Development 101 Series

For the past two decades, Happy Valley has continued to grow at a steady pace. Every year, more and more families move to the community for a higher quality of life and the deep sense of community.

Homebuyers choose Happy Valley for its neighborhoods, complete with trails, open spaces, and connections to parks.  Parents come to send their sons and daughters to top-rated schools.  Restaurants, shops, and other businesses are drawn to Happy Valley for a customer base that mirrors their values.

As Happy Valley grows up, the community has shown a deep interest in shaping its future. Given the complexity of the Oregon land use system and the high rate of growth, the land use and development process can be complicated. Frequent questions residents have about development are:

  • How does the City manage growth when working with developers, businesses, and landowners?
  • How does the City ensure growth occurs responsibly?
  • How can the City safeguard neighborhood livability standards, such as parks, trails, open spaces, are required as the community grows?
  • What are the design standards for new commercial, institutional, and industrial developments?
  • Is the City able to require additional public improvements, such as sidewalks, street trees, and landscaping along with a particular development?
  • Are new buildings safe, handicap accessible, and built to last?
  • How can I be involved in the process?

Before we dive into the development process and answer these important questions, it is important (and interesting) to know a little history about the community we call home. It was not until 1965 that Happy Valley was incorporated as a city by a vote of 111 to 66. At the time of incorporation, the population was approximately 300.  Portland was rapidly expanding and the proponents of incorporation were most interested in maintaining local control to define the future of the community.  Following incorporation, five citizens were elected to City Council and entrusted to ensure Happy Valley remained a tight-knit and unique community.

Near the same time Happy Valley incorporated, the land use system in Oregon dramatically changed. Urban Growth Boundaries were implemented to protect farm and forest land while directing development into cities. Even after the Portland Metro Area Urban Growth Boundary was established and included much of Happy Valley, the community remained largely rural-residential in character for the first 30 years.

When the U.S. economy boomed in the mid-1990s, interest in developing Happy Valley took hold. Given that Happy Valley had available land inside the Urban Growth Boundary, pressure mounted to build new subdivisions. This led to a population boom in Happy Valley and a City that now includes a population of over 21,000 residents.

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Now, the task at hand is to ensure growth happens in a responsible manner consistent with the values and visions of those in the community.