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  • Writer's pictureLeslie Lewallen

Ask Leslie- Growth Management

Today's Question:

How do you see Camas growing or changing as you look ahead, and what can the Council do to guide the City in that direction?

All Camasonians are proud of our rich and extraordinary history - from 1883 when the Columbia River Paper Company opened its doors, to 1906, when Camas officially incorporated, to the 1940s when Camasonians supported the World War II effort by manufacturing military-grade ship parts, to today where Camas is the second largest city, by total population, in Clark County. We are equally excited about the vision of what Camas will deliver for its residents in the years ahead.

While out door-knocking and speaking with Camas residents, I often hear the sentiment that “growth is inevitable.” While that may be generally true, the Growth Management Act provides discretion on where and how growth is incorporated into Washington cities. Accordingly, the Camas City Council plays an instrumental role in the form, plan and impact growth will have on Camasonians. Our City Council must maintain a careful balance between what residents believe makes Camas so special, and growth that could threaten the existence of those community attributes.

Uncontrolled growth for the sake of “progress” is an ill-advised proposition. Instead, I believe that our City Council should provide effective leadership to deliver smart, sustainable growth solutions that both address the opportunities and challenges we face today, but also practicably positions Camas to achieve the aspirations and needs of our citizens tomorrow. Examples of smart, sustainable growth concepts include:

Exploration of developing a “Mill District” adjacent to Historic Downtown Camas:

Historic Downtown Camas is one of our best community assets. Working today for a Mill District along the Columbia River waterfront tomorrow is both smart and sustainable. Affordable housing, entertainment, commercial businesses creating new working class jobs, and recreational areas, could all be essential parts of a new Mill District. Bend, Oregon provides a good model to work from. Many residents could walk or bike to work. For visitors enjoying what our Mill District would provide and other Camas residents, the NW 6th Ave. and Hwy 14 corridor would provide smart, sustainable transportation solutions, including bus and other public transportation services, to support growth in downtown without significantly impacting traffic flow in other significant traffic corridors in Camas.

Modernize the Camas Municipal Code:

Clear, comprehensive municipal codes are the foundation upon which smart, sustainable cities are built. They provide the rules and framework by which real estate developers and other citizens use to improve communities. Codes that are outdated or deficient can, among other things, frustrate community efforts to protect the safety of its citizens (e.g., Camas code loophole used to approve siting its first drug and alcohol rehab center right next to Dorothy Fox Elementary) and prioritize the development of residential sub-areas that make little sense from a smart, sustainable growth perspective and where citizens have clearly said they do not want developed at this time (e.g., Northshore). Additions of transit-oriented development provisions, revised design guidelines and zoning overlays, as well as revisions to current permitted and conditional uses would help Camas prepare for the growth of tomorrow.

Thanks for the question. If you have a question, just send me a note at

- Leslie


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