portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article announcements portland metro

forest defense | sustainability

New McNeighborhood planned for hills above Camas

A public service announcement
A few days ago I rode my bike down Lake Rd. which is up above Lacamas Lake. If you travel southeast from the Prune Hill area, it's a long downhill ride through second growth forest. On the side of the road there's a sign put up as a public announcement, concerning a "proposed" subdivision bordering Prune Hill. The sign is easy to miss if you're on a bike, much less in a car, and I would guess almost no one walks up or down this hill, so in effect the sign is useless. It's about 20 ft. from the road, in among the trees and fern.

The proposed development is quite large, and apparently has already begun, as I saw somewhere on the web that contractors have asked the city of Camas for access to the site. Actual groundbreaking may not have begun though.

The info from the sign:

Proposed subdivision
Lakeridge North-110 single family residential lots from 10,502-19,787 sq. ft.-to be surrounded by 4 open space tracts totalling 38.6 acres

Applicant-Ralston Investments
931 SW King St.
Portland, OR 97205
Contact: Ryan Zygar (503) 221-5353

Engineer-Otak Inc.
17355 SW Boones Ferry Rd.
Lake Oswego OR 97035-2517
Contact: Don Hanson (503) 635-3618

Phil Bourquin
City of Camas Planning Department
(360) 834-3451

From looking at the map on the sign, the actual development will be 40-50 acres, with surrounding "open space tracts."

This forest would likely have been converted into a neighborhood much earlier, except that it's a steep hillside. I hiked through the area, and it's mostly a maze of old logging cuts and game trails. I didn't see any old growth, but plenty of old growth stumps from the last time it was logged, probably early last century.

I would imagine the forest here is an important part of the Lacamas Creek watershed, which flows into the Washougal River, and then into the Columbia. Across the Lacamas Creek valley is Round Lake Park, and some areas of that park are so ecologically sensitive that they're off-limits to everything except foot traffic.

The surprising thing is not that there's a new subdivision planned in a rural area, but the sheer size of these planned McMansions--10,502-19,787 sq. ft. It defies logic why people need these things, much less BRAND NEW ones out in what used to be forest.

We use the term McMansion, but I think this really underestimates, or trivializes the damage that these subdivisions do to the physical landscape and the social character of their host communities. As bad as McDonald's is, they never built a 20,000 sq. ft. restaurant in a sensitive watershed. Of course, I'm sure they would if they thought it would be good for business.

This has been a public service announcement.
it DOES affect the watershed 02.Jun.2004 13:03

yr pal evolution

there are so many of these neighborhoods springing up everywhere and it does affect the watershed. the place where my parents used to live was a huge sprawling suburban community near chicago with a golf course and huge houses. they had to build man made ponds just to put the water in. any little bit of extra rain would flood things, and it became a big concern. driveways, pavement, parking lots and the like totally ruin the ground underneath. and any runoff devastates the surrounding streams, forest, and/or wetlands. the fish have to swim in that shit. and the washougal river is a very beautiful place and it seems very clean, but it is not the biggest river in the world. i can easily imagine it being a small trickling stream with no fish or even just a leaf covered path where a stream used to be. i can understand that maybe people want to live there, but i don't think it's too much to ask for them to look at the costs. there are other nice places to live that have already been built. we don't need any more of our forests to be colonized by people who don't really care one way or the other about the environment around them. the people who move in will appreciate the river, i'm sure. they'll think it's nice to go out and enjoy nature and hike and all these things. maybe they'll build a golf course there as well. they won't even be aware of what it really costs for them to live there. and when they come home from their nice picnic on the river, they'll sit down, turn on cnn, and cheer on our president and curse saddam hussein and those annoying terrorists! sorry if i sound bitter. i am.

yr pal evolution

Lot, not house size 02.Jun.2004 13:32

Further south

I agree with many of your comments, but it appears to me that they are talking about size of the lots to be sold, not the size of houses to be built. It remains to be seen whether this will be an ecologically sensitive development, but it's encougaging that they are planning to leave a lot of undeveloped land surrounding and within the neighborhood.

City of Camas 02.Jun.2004 13:36


I know as a fact that The City of Camas has been trying to stop this new developement from the get-go. (In fact, it's been tied up in the courts for the last few years. Saddly the Land Developers won.)

Yes, lot size 02.Jun.2004 14:09


I thought something sounded strange about a 20,000 sq. ft. house. That would be a good sized McMansion! There is of course already an infestation of McMansions right above the lake, on the western slope. These are all supersized luxury palaces, and they've been there approx. 10 years.

Both the lake and creek are already pretty choked with algae and I'm sure alot of pollutants from both farms upstream and the new subdivisions. Its good to hear that the city of Camas was at least putting obstacles in the way.



What can we do to stop this in its tracks?

What's That Smell? 02.Jun.2004 21:44

Camas Soul

I'm surprised that anyone would invest in a giant development upwind of Camas on a steep hill. Next to Albany, it's the smelliest pulp town around. Must be running out of places to develop.

goodby nature 03.Jun.2004 10:44


Ever get out to Beaverton?....go cyclying or driving on Skyline?....find yourself driving north on Murray Rd at Jenkins (real close to the nike compound)?...look up at the skyline hills and see what's been done to our surroundings. When you're on skyline, or huett blvd at Sylvan, look out across to Bull Mountain, Chehalem Mountan, Bald Peak. The valley has been steamrollered, paved, with junk, and now so the hills are becoming so as well. Nearly all natural surroundings are subordinate to "progress" and generation of income for someone. Where's our quality of life going?...Who will give up their retirement, or their fancy lifestyle so a valley retains a population that doesn't obliterate the nature that characterizes it. Don't build. Try get people to see the logic of that. Say goodby to your beautiful hills. They're gone.

Don't just complain about it! 04.Jun.2004 10:04


Get involved!

Alternatives to Growth Washington

Alternatives to Growth Oregon