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Metro

Hydrangea flowers. (Photo courtesy Wesley Waite)

Hydrangea flowers. (Photo courtesy Wesley Waite)

Contact
Contact: Tom Hughes, Council President
Address: Metro Regional Center, 600 NE Grand Ave., Portland 97232-2736
Phone: 503-797-1700
Fax: 503-797-1799
Web: www.oregonmetro.gov

 

Councilors
Tom Hughes 2014, District 1: Shirley Craddick 2014, District 2: Carlotta Collette 2014, District 3: Craig Dirksen 2016, District 4: Kathryn Harrington 2014, District 5: Sam Chase 2016, District 6: Bob Stacey 2016. Auditor: Suzanne Flynn 2014. The council president and auditor are elected regionally. The remaining six councilors are elected by district. All serve four-year terms. The auditor reviews Metro’s operations.

 

About
Metro serves nearly 1.5 million people in 467 square miles covering the urban portions of Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties in northwestern Oregon. There are 25 cities in Metro’s service area, including Beaverton, Gresham, Hillsboro, Lake Oswego, Milwaukie, Oregon City and Portland.


Metro has primary responsibility for regional land-use and transportation planning and is required to address other issues of “metropolitan concern” that cross jurisdictional boundaries. This grant of authority clearly underscores Metro's commitment to maintain and enhance the livability of the region.


The Metro Council is the only regional governing body in the United States directly elected by the region's voters. The council appoints a chief operating officer to carry out council policies and manage Metro operations. The COO oversees approximately 750 full-time and 1,000 part-time employees, from economists to park rangers and from cartographers to zoo keepers.

 

History
Metro was formed in 1979 when voters approved the merger of the Columbia Region Association of Governments, which had land-use and transportation planning responsibilities, with the Metropolitan Service District, which provided regional services including solid waste management and operation of a metropolitan zoo. An elected council and executive officer governed the new Metropolitan Service District that operated with its former authority and that of the council of governments. A 1992 charter gave Metro the nation’s only elected regional government organized under a home-rule charter approved by voters. The charter was amended in 2000, esblishing the regionally elected office of council president and replacing the elected executive officer with the appointed COO.


In 1980, Metro became responsible for regional solid waste disposal when it took over operation of the one existing publicly owned regional landfill and began construction of a transfer station. In November 1986, voters approved general obligation bond funding for the Oregon Convention Center, built and operated by Metro. In January 1990, Metro assumed management responsibility for the Portland Center for the Performing Arts, Portland Civic Stadium and Portland Memorial Coliseum (although the City of Portland later renegotiated the management of Civic Stadium — now JELD-WEN Field — and Memorial Coliseum through new agreements with private operators). In 1994, Metro assumed management responsibility for the Multnomah County parks system and the Portland Expo Center. Ownership of these facilities was transferred to Metro on July 1, 1996.

 

In May 1995, voters authorized $135.6 million in general obligation bonds to acquire and protect a regional system of natural areas, parks and streams. In 2006, voters approved another $227.4 million bond measure to continue this work.

 

In 1996, voters approved a $28.8 million measure to make improvements to the Oregon Zoo, followed by another bond measure in 2008 that authorized $125 million to improve outdated facilities and make the zoo more sustainable.

 

Funding
About half of Metro's operating revenues come from user fees related to solid waste disposal and waste prevention and from admission fees from Metro's visitor venues. Other revenues include grants, property taxes collected primarily for debt service on voter-approved bond measures, and excise taxes paid on Metro facilities, services and construction activity within the region.

 

Services
• Regional land use and transportation planning and development: The 2040 Growth Concept is the region’s long-range plan. It guides urban growth boundary management, efficient use of land, protection of farms, forests and natural areas, a balanced transportation system, a healthy economy supporting the creation of new jobs, and diverse housing options.


• Urban growth boundary management: Under Oregon law, Metro manages a single urban growth boundary for the greater Portland metropolitan region. The UGB protects farms and forests outside the boundary, promotes vibrant communities inside the boundary, helps local governments plan the location of public structures, and promotes efficient use of urban land, public facilities and services. Every five years, state law requires the Metro Council to analyze whether the UGB can accommodate the population and employment growth forecast for the next 20 years and, if necessary, to expand the boundary to meet regional needs.


• Data Resource Center: Metro offers state-of-the-art mapping, analysis and forecasting tools that are used for everything from locating businesses to planning new transportation projects. The region’s local governments rely on and contribute to this data center, eliminating duplication between governments.


• Solid waste management and recycling: Metro develops the region’s solid waste management plan and manages the disposal of the region’s garbage. Metro owns and operates two solid waste and recycling transfer stations and two hazardous waste facilities, and it runs a recycling information hotline. Metro has recycled more than 1 million gallons of latex paint since 1992, saving natural resources and landfill space.


• Protecting natural areas: Metro’s natural areas program has protected more than 10,000 acres across the Portland metropolitan area. Today, Metro owns and manages a total of 16,000 acres of publicly owned parks and natural areas, more than a third of the region’s total. Metro’s system of regional parks and natural areas includes Smith and Bybee Lakes Wildlife Area, a 2,000-acre freshwater wetland in North Portland; Oxbow Regional Park, a 1,200-acre forested natural area on the Sandy River east of Gresham, and Graham Oaks Natural Area, a 250-acre area of restored oak woodlands in Wilsonville.


• Venues for public gatherings and entertainment: Metro operates the region's public assembly facilities — the Oregon Convention Center, Portland Center for the Performing Arts, and Portland Expo Center – as well as the Oregon Zoo. These venues host hundreds of events each year, drawing millions of people. The Oregon Convention Center generates more than $400 million a year in economic benefit. The zoo has the highest annual attendance of all paid-admissions visitor facilities in Oregon.