The city that isn't — yet

The road to an incorporated White City has been long, and many miles remain to be traveled before the community officially becomes the city that in reality it already is.

With an estimated population of more than 5,000, White City would be the sixth largest in Jackson County, smaller than Talent but larger than Phoenix, Shady Cove, Jacksonville, Rogue River and Gold Hill. After years of depending on county government for what services it could get, it's time for White City to step up and provide for itself.

Getting from here to there won't be easy. Incorporation will likely mean higher taxes for residents, and legal and political obstacles to including high-value industrial properties will place more of the burden on homeowners and smaller businesses. But the benefits would be substantial.

So far, organizers of the incorporation effort appear to be moving slowly and carefully, which is exactly what they should be doing. It will take careful study and an extensive public education effort to convince residents that creating a new city would be in their best interest.

One factor that could work in favor of the move is the end of tax collections by the White City Urban Renewal District next year. All property owners in the county have been supporting the district, which has improved the community with a number of projects including sidewalks, street lights, a community center and parks.

Another incentive for White City property owners to support incorporation is the opportunity to subdivide larger parcels of land that cannot be developed under land-use laws as long as they are in the unincorporated county.

The next step in the process is to finance an economic study to determine what services would be provided by the new city and whether the tax base would be large enough to support those services. Jackson County officials should help find the money to pay for that study.

Ultimately, it might be necessary to include some of the White City industrial park west of Highway 62 in order to generate enough tax revenue to make a city government viable. Unfortunately, legislation passed in response to an annexation dispute between the city of Beaverton and Nike's corporate headquarters makes that extremely difficult in the near future.

But industries in White City have benefited from the urban renewal district, and it's not unreasonable to ask that they contribute to the future of their community.

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