What a Planning Commissioner Should be Like

The Oregon Land Use Law means we have to draft a Land Use Plan for Sherwood that's good for the next twenty years. To that end, an urban planner has recently been hired and the Citizen's Planning Advisory Committee was formed. At our first meeting the planner announced that we were supposed take an "inventory" and that the inventory was necessary "to find out what the People of Sherwood want."

Joe Galbreath, son of a pioneer family and long-time onion farmer, volunteered to lead the first crew. He already owned an axe and a compass and said he wouldn't need to borrow one. "We better start on the East side and work our way around." he told us, with a farmer's sense of practicality and an eye to the weather.

It wasn't easy stopping that Southern Pacific freight train, but with Joe's direction we dropped a Douglas Fir tree across the tracks just North of the City Limits and got our questionnaires out. The engineer and the signal man gave us so much citizen involvement that we worried we might have too much for the City Planner to focus on right away. But Joe wasn't satisfied.

"Hold on Joe!" I shouted when I saw him heading off to Highway 99 with his sledge hammer slung across his shoulder. I explained when I caught up with him that I thought the City Planner wanted us to interview people right here in town for our inventory.

Joe looked at me with that particular smile he had on his face so many times when I had seen him talking to professional people like the City Planner. "When's the last time you bought anything in Sherwood?" he said.

I had to think a minute. "Well that would have been back in 1953." I replied, "Earl and Dolly Reiser had a grocery store at Six Corners then. I was only nine. They had the only television set in town and I used to go there a lot."

Joe winked his eye. "There. You see?" he said, "The amount of money you spend in Sherwood decreases in direct proportion to the amount of time you spend here. That's the rule. You have to inventory the people that are just passing through. They're the ones who make the real decisions about how you and me and these other landowners are going to come out."

It was a pretty iron clad rule as far as I could see but I still can't feel my jaw where a motorist punched me and I never found the results of our inventory anywhere in the Sherwood Comprehensive Plan to this day.


ADDED NOTE: I published several versions of this article during Joe's lifetime and he always got a kick out of it. When Joe passed away I went to his funeral but it wasn't the kind of affair he would have been comfortable at. I almost thought we should ask him to wait outside until we were through taking our inventory, the way we had done all those other times.

Copyright 2005 by Clyde List

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