Metro’s battle for Damascus
By Ask Ask Damascus
Damascus incorporated just two years ago already has many dirty little secrets. The city was formed on the idea that this was the way to save the community from the clutches of Metro and 1,000 friends of Oregon. The idea was to have local control and that idea prevailed at the polls and Damascus was born. Whether the sell out was prior or after incorporation is debatable but it came swiftly and complete. Driven by Metro a committee was formed to plan the city and was used to claim public support. With Mayor Dee Wescott, two city councilors Barbara Ledbury and John Hartsock along with an attorney from 1,000 friends of Oregon on the committee the railroad had left the station.
The idea was an experimental city totally under government control for development and as a map put together by a local citizen would show to be quite profitable to many of those on the committee. Only portions of Damascus would be developable while over 35% of the city would be in a green overlay and not permitted to be developed. Dean Apostle a committee member and chief driver of the plan had recently purchased a piece of property that would appreciate greatly from this plan had another job. He was the unbiased reporter writing articles in the local paper, the Damascus Observer supporting this plan, no mention of his position on the committee or his possible profits. The plan started getting into trouble as citizens started attending meetings and were told they were either too early (This is only a draft and has not yet been accepted) or too late in the process (where were you when we first started talking about planning).
Enter the initiative process. Working for some time on initiatives that would bring control back to the citizens and with the help of Oregonians and members of the Executive Club, three initiatives have been drafted and qualified for circulation. Each of these measures are charter amendments.
1. No new taxes, charges or fees, or increases in either of these without a vote of the people.
2. Requires the city to compensate a property owner for any devaluation of property value by city action or the acquiescing to another action (i.e. Metro).
3. Prohibits the city from condemning property for the purpose of transferring to another private party.
These measures are very popular among the citizenry with approximately 17 in 20 people who are approached will sign all three. This has been a door to door campaign so has been very reliant on cooperative weather. We now have exceeded 80% of the required signatures on each initiative which is amazing since most of the people involved did not know each other one year ago and none have taken on a project like this before. Look for news of this project soon and I will keep you posted.
Dan Phegley (Chief Petitioner)