A win-win is possible for semiconductor expansion applications and Oregon’s farms, forests, and watersheds. But the window of opportunity closes in two months—our state must act now!
Content of this bill is changing fast. We'll continue to update this information as it develops.
The Short and Sweet Update
We oppose the current SB 4 (“the original version of bill”) because it allows the governor to unilaterally bring our farms, ranches, forests, and watersheds into urban areas with no guarantee that it will result in high-quality jobs for Oregonians or that it would leverage federal funding to the state. There is also no requirement for the governor to look first to the lands available inside UGBs. However, we do support the bill’s financial and educational incentives that will help grow our high-tech workforce for the future and bring existing industrial lands to full readiness. We are encouraged by Tuesday's new proposed amendment, which will ensure that any use of supersiting by the governor is a tool of last resort and that will be used to grow our high-tech workforce and leverage the historic CHIPS and Science Act.
Yesterday afternoon, on March 13, the Joint Committee posted a new SB 4 amendment, requested by Oregon Senate President Robert Wagner. The amendment allows the governor to bring land into a UGB by executive order as a tool of last resort. This is a proposed version of the semiconductor bill that includes marked improvements to build upon Oregon’s success in strategic land use planning and development decisions.
The Joint Committee has signaled that they will vote on SB 4 on Wednesday, March 15, at 5:00 p.m. Send in testimony now to ensure we set the state up for a win-win approach: support semiconductor expansions and CHIPS Act applications and our farms, forests, and watersheds.
Our Executive Director, Samuel Diaz, signed up to testify, but the Joint Committee ended its March 13 hearing before hearing all public testimony. Our takeaways?
Success for Oregon is near, if we focus on supporting active CHIPS Act applications.
We applaud Governor Kotek and her administration for their focused, strategic, and collaborative approach to capitalizing on a win-win strategy. At the Monday, March 13, hearing, we learned that because of existing land use planning and readiness efforts, semiconductor companies are already putting together applications for CHIPS Act funding for semiconductor expansions, reflecting that many companies already in Oregon want to invest here.
The Joint Committee can and should support this win-win strategy by funding incentives to support these efforts rather than focusing on land – we have thousands of acres of industrially zoned land available across Oregon’s cities and towns, including at least four sites with more than 500 acres.
As a point of reference, in 2022, Ohio drew two semiconductor factories (also called fabs) on 1,000 acres, using $2.1 billion in state funding, $150 million in grants from JobsOhio (the economic-development agency), and a 30-year, 100 percent property-tax abatement on buildings that Intel constructs.
Oregon has thousands of acres inside urban growth boundaries for industrial use. Land use is not the issue in whether Oregon is competitive. And let’s compete based on our strengths: Oregon leads on livability. Oregon already has 15 percent share of the semiconductor industry workforce. We punch above our weight class. Oregon is a leader in high-tech research and development and “first generation” production. Let’s build on what we have.
Applause for local leadership to identify and reserve existing industrial lands.
We applaud community, school, and business leaders and private-property owners helping Oregon identify and hold onto industrial lands and correcting the record with accurate, updated opportunities. Just three months ago, an ad hoc work group led by the Port of Portland, Gresham Mayor Travis Stovall, and McKinsey Associates reported that they could not find any available large sites (defined as at least 500 acres) inside UGBs in the state, with a particular concern in the greater Portland area.
The Joint Committee process has helped all of us get a better handle on reality: We have sites of all sizes, including large sites of 500 acres and greater, and multiple sites located in the Portland metro area. Now we need Oregon to create a statewide inventory of available industrial lands. The real problems are the lack of readily available and accurate information for businesses and the lack of industrial readiness dollars for local jurisdictions, not the land use system.
Supersiting with executive authority should be reserved as a tool of last resort in extraordinary circumstances.
SB 4’s latest proposed amendment represents an approach that gives the governor a tool of last resort. The governor could—in the rare instance that the thousands of acres of existing industrial lands inside UGBs are developed for other industrial purposes or determined not to be viable for a CHIPS Act application—bring land into a UGB by executive order. We appreciate the focus that has been built into the amendment to set Oregon up for success.
We must not bypass the benefits from UGB processes.
Normal urban growth boundary processes are still the gold standard; they are nimble and responsive. The research and analysis that happens during an urban growth boundary review process uncovers information that is helpful for community members, local governments, utilities, and businesses. The research and analysis bring foresight to development decisions by identifying and reducing the risks of harm to communities, businesses, and the environment: from critical habitat to hazards to public facilities and services availability to transportation connection issues.
The UGB process is also responsive to instances where and when communities need to grow. From 2016 to 2021, 35 of the 37 proposed UGB expansions (or 95 percent) were approved. Eighty-three percent weren't appealed and 80 percent were approved within one year. Of those 35 approved applications, nine were for industrial lands, and 15 were for industrial or employment lands. None of the approved industrial expansions were appealed.
Support Our Work that Protects Oregon’s Working Lands and Communities
1000 Friends of Oregon is committed to stopping unjustified expansions of urban growth boundaries and defending against legislation that undermines protections for agricultural and forested lands. The threat is urgent and the time to act is now. With your support, we can protect agricultural lands for our economy, rural communities, food systems, and the environment.
Make a gift to 1000 Friends of Oregon today and Board Member Ken Hayes will match your gift dollar-for-dollar, up to $10,000 total.
Please use this link to give now or mail your check with “Uphold” in the memo line to 1000 Friends of Oregon, PO Box 40367, Portland, OR 97240—and support our continued work to make sure we welcome semiconductor facilities in a way that also supports farmland, rangeland, forestland, and thriving communities of all sizes.
Spread the Word
We need your help reaching other concerned Oregonians. Please reach out to people you know to encourage them to learn more, get involved, and join our coalition.
The following text was published March 7, 2023, and may contain outdated information.
MARCH 7, 2023
About the CHIPS Act
In August 2022, Congress passed the CHIPS and Science Act (CHIPS Act), which provides $52 billion to companies to increase the research and production of semiconductors and associated activities that happen in the United States.
Two of the CHIPS Act’s goals are to reduce our dependence on foreign sources for semiconductors and create new, high-quality jobs here at home. In Oregon, the state legislative Joint Committee on Semiconductors has been hard at work identifying potential state actions and asking the public for information, ideas, and help to expand upon Oregon’s existing 15 percent share of the semiconductor industry’s workforce.
Before the Joint Committee on Semiconductors began its work in January, there was doubt about whether Oregon possessed adequate ready or nearly ready potential sites for semiconductor expansion. One question that arose was whether Oregon’s land use laws, particularly our urban growth boundaries (UGBs), hinder our ability to offer appropriate opportunities to expand the semiconductor industry here. The answer is clear: No, it does not.
Since the introduction of Senate Bill 4 (SB 4)—which focuses, in part, on ways to support the expansion of the semiconductor industry’s footprint in Oregon—1000 Friends, local land use groups, and hundreds of Oregonians have urged the State’s Joint Committee on Semiconductors to act fast and strategically to meet the May 2023 application deadline.
The Good News
The Joint Committee on Semiconductors brought clarity of possible sites for companies to locate and expand semiconductor facilities in cities and towns across Oregon inside existing urban growth boundaries (UGBs). These sites of all sizes are already part of city-adopted comprehensive plans, zoned for industrial/employment uses. We do not need to bring farmland into urban growth boundaries to fill a need that doesn’t exist. Instead, we need investment now to take the last steps to bring these sites to full readiness.
Highlights of potential sites already zoned for possible semiconductor expansion(s):
- 70 acres as part of a redevelopment possibility in Jantzen Beach, in Portland;
- 180 acres in McMinnville;
- 400 acres in Corvallis;
- 700 acres in Wilsonville;
- 590 acres in the Rogue Valley;
- 900 acres in Redmond
And many more sites identified by an ad hoc working group with the Port of Portland, Department of Land Conservation and Development, Metro.
According to the invited testimony of Vijendra (VJ) Sahi, of Clark Street Associates, before the Joint Committee on Semiconductors on Monday, March 6, 2023, companies are developing applications now. Most companies are targeting full applications by mid-May. Applications need:
- Secured private financing (either from the company itself or from a bank or a combination);
- Secured State of Oregon funding (expressed in a letter of intent from the state for full application with some high confidence);
- Site agreement with private property owner(s) (if expansion requires more land).
Sahi testified that for companies applying, “knowledge of the full capital stack is ideal (i.e., completion of full legislation including state level R&D credits).”
The Bad News
Senate Bill 4 is being slowed down, in part, by a proposed approach that unnecessarily undercuts Oregon’s ability to plan for healthy communities, protect our farms, forests, and watersheds, and foster shared economic prosperity for generations to come. SB 4 creates an untested, alternative way to carve up our farms, forests, and watersheds outside existing urban growth boundaries for different types of development.
What Will Senate Bill 4's March 6 Amendment, Actually Do?
Senate Bill 4—with its amendment introduced on Monday, March 6, 2023—includes two sections focused on land use: Sections 10 and 11. Both sections cut corners to bring land outside existing UGBs into UGBs.
- SB 4, Section 10 would allow Oregon’s governor to bring multiple sites into one or more UGBs by executive order if the governor determines that there is no available land inside a UGB (prioritizing lands within UGBs was not included in SB 4 prior to the recent amendment). Specifically, the Governor may designate up to a maximum of 12 sites (some call this “super siting”), as follows:
- Two sites of any size;
- Four sites that do not exceed 500 acres; and
- Six sites that do not exceed 100 acres.
- SB 4, Section 11 would remove land brought into a UGB under the statute unless one of two conditions has been met by 2027: (1) the land hasn’t been substantially developed or (2) the local government has subsequently incorporated the land into the urban growth boundary. There is no requirement that the land actually be used for semiconductor facilities or industrial use, at all.
Likely Consequences of SB 4 Include:
- Overlooking existing industrially zoned sites inside UGBs that cities have already designated and incorporated into their economic development strategies.
- Irreversibly converting and paving over our farms, forests, ranches, watersheds, and natural and scenic areas that provide so much of our food, fiber, and outdoor fun.
- Contributing to increased sources for carbon, air, and water pollution caused by sprawling outward onto our natural and working lands.
- Enabling a potential one-time windfall profit to a few landowners at the expense of taxpayer dollars.
- Adding tens of millions of dollars in ongoing costs to taxpayers for additional, unnecessary planning, service extensions, infrastructure upgrades for land that is not currently part of a town’s comprehensive or public facilities plans.
Joint Committee on Semiconductors Recap: 5 Takeaways on Industrial Land for Semiconductors in Oregon
- Oregon has sites of all sizes inside our existing UGBs that are zoned for industrial use (including semiconductor industry use), approved in comprehensive plans, and located near infrastructure and amenities.
- Oregon has multiple sites larger than 10 acres and smaller than 500 acres for semiconductor research and development facilities and related uses zoned for industrial use inside existing UGBs.
- Oregon has multiple sites inside our existing UGBs that are 500 acres and larger, and zoned for industrial use. These large sites offer the amount of land, along with other important characteristics, that are attractive for semiconductor manufacturing facilities.
- Oregon has multiple sites that can offer redevelopment opportunities for vacant or struggling properties, transforming towns and cities for the better.
- Sites already inside UGBs and zoned industrial can generally be ready for development much more quickly and often more cheaply than potential sites on farmlands outside current UGBs. This is critically important for Oregon to be competitive in attracting semiconductor expansion that qualifies for CHIPS Act funding. Several Oregon cities already have such pre-zoned lands inside their UGBs, which can be more efficiently served by short extensions of existing infrastructure and services.
- Many local elected officials are doing the right thing for their cities and towns by creating and holding onto industrial land (a land use system requirement). Elected officials are offering sites for semiconductor expansion. We applaud these local leaders who are advocating for the investment in community-approved, council-adopted economic development plans.
- Several private property owners are also doing the right thing by holding onto industrial sites as part of communities’ adopted economic development plans, and are offering this land to be considered for potential semiconductor expansion.
- Oregon has industrial land. Land readiness and preservation are the primary barriers for creating more high-quality jobs through semiconductor expansion. The CHIPS Act and Oregon’s investment can overcome those barriers.