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House Bill 3084: A Real Solution to Forced Annexations.

Representative Brad Avakian is a second term legislator representing portions of Beaverton and unincorporated Washington County


Stopping forceful annexation by the City of Beaverton has been my top priority this session. In a free society, it is the people's right to decide who governs them, not the government's choice over whom they will rule. Annexation reform should be designed to insure the rights of our citizens to vote on their government, especially when governments abuse their power purely to amass more power at the expense of individual rights. Therefore, I have spent countless hours developing a comprehensive policy that will stop Beaverton and all cities from abusing their annexation powers and forcefully annexing residents against their will.

Beaverton's abuse stems from the "island annexation" statute, ORS 222.750, that allows cities to annex an unincorporated area without the area's consent when the area is entirely surrounded by the city boundaries. Beaverton has been annexing roadways and encircling many Washington County neighborhoods, including Cedar Mill and Cedar Hills, in order to create "false islands." Under current law Beaverton can annex these "false islands" without the residents' vote or consent or even giving notice that they will soon belong to the City of Beaverton.

In order to stop Beaverton, I have proposed a bill, HB 3084 as amended, that would reform the island annexation statute and stop these "false islands" from being annexed. My bill would prohibit all cities from annexing islands where a portion of the city boundary was "only a roadway." Cities would not be able to systematically annex roads to only then declare that a long established nieghborhood was "an island" of the city. Thousands of Oregonians live in unicorporated areas, and they do not want to be controlled and taxed by an agressive city trying to make itself more powerful. These citizens need our long term protection, and HB 3084 as amended would do that.

Unfortunately, many in Salem are not ready to give the citizens of Oregon long term protection from agressive island annexation strategies. Instead, the Senate Environment and Land Use Committee decided to develop a bill, SB 887, that pretends to fix the annexation problem, but really only acts as a temporary band-aid. When I asked to be a sponsor of SB 887, I believed that it was going to provide a real solution to the annexation problem. However, over the months it spent in the Senate and then in the House, it evolved into a short sighted solution for a long term problem.

Recently, some have critized SB 887 as a corporate giveaway because it protects our state's finest businesses from annexation, but those criticisms are misguided. Protecting citizens and businesses from forced annexation protects their rights and freedoms to determine their own future.

SB 887's biggest weakness is that it pretends to protect our citizens, but it does not. First, it does not protect all Oregonians from unwanted annexation. Rather it only protects the citizens adjacent to the city of Beaverton. Second, it only protects the residents adjacent to Beaverton for two years even though Beaverton's annexation plans go far into the future. A two year reprieve from forced annexation is virtually useless in light of Beaverton's long term goals.

Sadly, the worst aspect of SB 887 is its regressive mediation procedure. First, this lengthy and complicated mediation procedure has no backbone because it is optional for all cities in the state except one--Beaverton. Second, under SB 887 Beaverton must mediate even concentual annexations. This means that if, for example, a senior center wants to become part of Beaverton, they still must convene a "future boundaries work group." This is a waste of time and money for all parties and is completely unnecessary.

Some still argue that tying Beaverton's hands behind its back for two years and forcing it to mediate for even concentual annexations is the best solution to our annexation problems. Some claim that a permanent solution should only be developed by an interim committee, but I disagree. The Legislature is charged with creating the best policy for all Oregonians. We cannot put off tough policy decisions until tomorrow and then claim the problem is fixed because we set up another "taskforce." We must be brave enough to develop long-term policy changes that will protect all residents from overly agressive cities, and the time to protect individuals and business is now.

I will still vote for SB 887 because it is the only piece of legislation that has been allowed out of committee, but I will not pretend that this bill is a solution. Protection from forced annexation is freedom, and there is no reason to ask Oregon's citizens to wait two years before they are given real freedom.

June 6, 2005 by Brad Avakian
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I dunno, all you people in special districts welch off of those of use in cities and don't pay for all the services you use. Also, in an urban area, cities should rule, just divide it up by whoever's school district you're in and let that be that.

Posted by: Bobby | Jun 6, 2005 4:42:29 PM

Ya know, I agree with Bobby, why is it that Oregon has all these unincorporated and inefficient areas and no one else does. Incorporate them all, quality of services will go up a lot for a small tax increase.

Posted by: Andy | Jun 6, 2005 9:07:16 PM

Representative Avakian,

You make it sound like you are defending an oppressed minority. But we are talking mainly about people who are living in fully developed residential areas within the urban growth boundaries, who get the same services that I get but don't want to pay for them. Or large businesses that have been in the area for a long time, and that would rather have me pay more for the public services I get so that they can save a fraction of one percent of their costs.

What I would like to see come out of Salem is something that would limit the amount of time that a neighborhood can be outside the city limits. After 5 or 10 years, you have to choose to be annexed to an existing city or pay more to become a new city.

Posted by: Marcello | Jun 7, 2005 7:31:58 AM

Rep. Avakian,

Your entry illustrates the City of Beaverton as a rabid badger hell-bent on winning a game of Othello, but I really don't think the city is as devious or even as power-hungry as you'd like to think.

Cities provide basic services and utilities, which of course must be funded in turn with taxation. Your bill significantly endangers a key source of funding for cities and in turn devalues the utilities and services they provide. It is true that many living just outside the boundary of a city benefit from the infrastructure provided by the municipality, and it is only fair that they pay to receive such a benefit. De facto citizenship in a municipality without the cost can and should be replaced with actual citizenship with the cost included.

Your quest for individual freedom sounds an awful lot like shielding companies from the taxes they rightfully owe than proctecting the resident from an 'aggressive' suburban city council.

Posted by: Tom Powers | Jun 7, 2005 4:45:54 PM

The "Napolean Complex" lives and breathes in Beaverton. Right on Rep. Avakian--Nike $$$
Brevity folks---brevity

Posted by: brevityohyeah | Jun 7, 2005 6:52:25 PM

I appreciate all the feedback I have received about annexation. I agree that cities should be able to easily annex the areas that receive services from the city, but this is not the situation in many parts of our state. For example, in Washington County services are provided by special service districts, not cities. Residents already pay for these services and would gain little more by joining the city of Beaverton, which is why many are happy remaining outside city boundaries. They identify with their long established neighborhoods, some of which pre-date nearby cities.

If cities are building infrastructure and providing services to unincorporated areas, then those areas should come into the city. However, I can’t imagine a city extending benefits without first having an annexation agreement in place. It is clearly not okay to let residents benefit from services they don’t pay for, but the residents seeking protection from forced annexation already pay for the services they need. The reality is that since special service districts began providing urban services, the city has been displaced as the exclusive service provider. And this has changed the original purpose of annexation. Assuming that residents are not “freeloading” off the city’s services, they should not be forced to become part of the city without consent or a vote.

Posted by: Representative Brad Avakian | Jun 8, 2005 11:28:54 AM

I am so dissapointed to read your article, Representative Avakian, on this forum.

Your "support" of the people in cedar mills etc is so misinformed. It pre-supposes that they are disconnected from the areas around them. You suppose that those residents don't use the services of Beaverton. But the truth is that in the modern world, most of us live in the metro area, and work in the metro area, not in some isolated little suburban community. Most of the high-income-earning residents of Cedar Mills probably commute to their downtown offices regularly. And most of the employees of Nike or Intel probaly commute from Multnomah County or even Clark County.

Democratic leadership at the state should focus on increasing metropolitan governance. The suburbanites of your district are a part of the same fabric as the rest of the incorporated areas in the metro area.

If you are so concerned about representation and service provision, then maybe you should do something courageous like leading the charge to do away with special districts and transferring their services to a metro government or a city!

--Dave Dyk

Posted by: Dave Dyk | Jun 16, 2005 3:20:33 PM

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