Government officials speak of growth a lot. But what does that mean to the residents of Keizer? How are we to define growth?
Some say that growth means more jobs within our city borders. Some say growth means expanding our city limits and adding more housing and commercial hubs.
It is important that city leaders explain what they mean by growth specifically and assure that their constituents understand exactly what the push for growth is all about.
If the push for growth is mostly about attaining jobs for Keizer residents, what kind of jobs and where will they be? In an robust economic climate there are people working more than one job. Part-time work and service jobs, important to the overall economy, don’t support a family of three or more. In those cases, the spouse is forced to find employment to sustain the household which adds childcare costs to already overtaxed budgets.
It is nice to recruit eateries with their part-time shifts but if asked we suspect most Keizerites would rather see full-time jobs with good wages that can be reached by foot, bus or a short car trip. What are some fields that can be recruited? Topping the list is anything in the medical field—clinics, labortories, medical transcription office, to name a few. Those industries may not be as sexy as a popular restaurant or a gaming arcade, but they are the businesses whose future is assured.
Many will say there is no room in Keizer for such developments which is why the Urban Growth Boundary needs to be expanded as soon as possible. There are plots of land that can be obtained. Much of Cherry Avenue is zoned commercial/industrial; using incentives such as lowering system development charges, the city can work with a developer and medical business to purchase land on Cherry, raze what’s there and build a sparkling new building. The caveat for any of that is dictating the types of jobs and wages offered.
There is land in Keizer Station and on land where a power plant was once considered. Though the city of Keizer doesn’t want to be in real estate business, it should consider the long-term benefits of buying land and then selling it to the types of industries that will bring the jobs we want.
Aside from jobs some may consider tangible growth, such as new subsdivisons and commercial buildings. Growth to them may mean gleaming new buildings including mixed used, multi-story developments along River Road.
When others think of growth they may be envisioning an expanded Urban Growth Boudary, annexed by Keizer followed by the construction of hundreds of new rooftops stretching from the Country Glen neighborhood to Perkins or Quinaby Road.
Before the discussion of Keizer’s growth gets along too far the city leaders need to figure out what growth means to the people who already live here. It would be a shame to get far down the development road only to realize people were talking about different types of growth.