According to Wikipedia, Happy Valley had 13,903 residents as of the 2010 census. It was originally founded in 1851 (though not incorporated for more than a century) by two farmers who claimed 640 acres in the valley. For whatever reason, in recent years Happy Valley was not happy remaining a very small town and decided to gobble up more land, to the point where it is now about 3 square miles of prime suburban land at the very northern edge of Clackamas County . And Happy Valley is not content with where it is, seeking to expand even further to annex health care areas in neighboring unincorporated areas, and developing the land it has for maximum tax revenue in centrally planned urban gentrification .
So, why was Happy Valley not content to be a little town in a picturesque valley? Had Happy Valley been a picturesque valley far from Portland or any other city, it would probably have no need to annex square miles of high desert land or green coastal farmland. But Happy Valley is a suburb of Portland, astride some prime unincorporated land in the suburbs of Oregon’s largest city. In such a circumstance it is either grow or die, and Happy Valley’s civic fathers had enough drive and ambition to expand and preserve their independence as a municipality. And so Happy Valley became one of the fastest-growing cities in Oregon and swallowed up other suburban land, seeking to develop its tax base as well, sitting astride I-205 and a couple of other major roads in a major commercial and medical district with eyes on expanding still further.
Nor is Happy Valley alone in being in such an expansionistic mood. The city of Jacksonville, Florida, expanded to swallow up almost its entire county within its city limits. Sometimes counties fight back, as Miami’s massive debt led Dade County Florida to annex Miami. Most of the time money is at the basis of expansion or annexation. Whether debt forces contraction or the lure of tax revenues spurs expansion, the borders of municipalities are based largely on tax revenues. Obviously, there is both risk and reward, although most of the time the rewards probably are exaggerated and the risks underestimated. Sometimes the risks pay off and sometimes they do not. Sometimes politicians act with wisdom, and more often they act foolishly. Such is life in a fallen world.
Life is full of risk. Any time we seize a chance for what we see as advancement, or increase our education, we are taking a risk. Most of the time we are focused on rewards–the lure of a better job or a better salary, more fame or respect or honor, and we do not pay attention to the risk–the debts we incur, or the exposure we have to failure. This is not to mean that we should not take such risks or seek advancement, but rather that we should be more conscious of the risk. In this life happiness and success are not guaranteed in all of our pursuits, and we need to have enough resilience to keep going and to avoid recklessness. Since there is always risk, let us at least seek places where such risks can pay off, and where we can minimize potential losses as we seek a better world for ourselves. It is grow or die for all of us, after all.