The City of Damascus

How we BEGAN, were PRONOUNCED DEAD, and have been REVIVED

A Fact Sheet by James De Young, MayorAugust 2019

Damascus has a pioneer history that goes back to 1851 at the end of the Oregon trail.

Damascus signified a new beginning for the Apostle Paul as recorded in the Bible (Acts 9); and this led pioneer founder Ed Pedigo to suggest the name Damascus – a “new beginning” for them.

Metro imposed the Urban Growth Boundary on the Damascus area of about 10,000 acres and about 10,000 people (2002).

To preserve its heritage and determine its own character distinct from Gresham to the north or from Happy Valley to the west, the people of Damascus voted to incorporate the City (2004).

Mayors have been Dee Wescott, Jim Wright, Steve Spinnett, Diana Helm, and James De Young.

Very restrictive amendments to our charter such as voter approval of the Comprehensive Plan, prohibition of system development charges and franchise fees, and spending limits, have hamstrung the City.

Early on, many to the east wanted to keep Damascus rural and many to the west wanted to develop their property like Happy Valley.

Voters rejected all Comprehensive Plans, even though they are an absolute requirement for all new cities.

Disenchantment with the lack of progress and division led people to vote for disincorporation in 2013 or to skirt the charter regulations for de-annexations in 2014. The Appellate Court declared all such actions to be illegal or unconstitutional.

The Oregon Legislature devised special laws in 2015 (HB 3084, 3085, 3086) for Damascus, and required the City to vote on disincorporation in the May 2016 primary as Measure 93. This passed by a simple majority but fell short by over 600 votes of the super majority required by law.  People assumed the City was dead.

Then-Councilor De Young filed legal action to challenge the vote as violating Oregon statutes, the State Constitution, and the City Charter. After three years the Appellate Court ruled that De Young “should prevail as a matter of law” (May 1,2019).

This decision nullified the vote of 2016. The City continued to exist. The Council never surrendered its Charter. The Councilors never lost their offices. According to the City Charter, Councilors continue in office until their successors are voted in, unless they choose not to be a Councilor or move out of the City.

During its three-year hiatus, the City lost to the County $8 million, property, vehicles, and documents. Happy Valley also annexed 1400 acres of City property.

Beginning in May 2019, the Council began restoring City government; they appointed people to fill vacancies, they appointed a Mayor (De Young) and City Manager, they held a half dozen meetings where they completed a budget, passed several resolutions, and set a tax levy at 0.57 per $1000.

The City is currently pursuing restitution and reconciliation with the County, the State, Metro, and Happy Valley; and is appealing the latest law directed against Damascus (8-14-19).

Damascus City Council “Special” Meeting

(per Damascus Council Rules 2.2.2)

August 22, 2019; 6:30 pmSunnyside Community Church16444 SE Hwy 212, Damascus, OR 97089


I. Call to Order: Roll Call of Those Present

II. Pledge of Allegiance

III. Additions or Changes to the Agenda

IV. Consent Agenda (to approve minutes of 7-25-2019 by motion)

V. Council Business

1. Resolution 19-707, accepting resignation of former appointed city manager Richard Carson

2. Resolution 19-708, regarding City bank account and signatories for it

3. Report regarding Clackamas County Assessor and Oregon Department of Revenue. Report re the financial state of the City.

4. Report on legal endeavors        

5. Discussion of fund-raising appeal for donations

6. Future challenges: passing the 2013 Comprehensive Plan.                       

7. Discussion of how to improve communications.                                 

a. New additions/postings to City website ( Video                              

b. Summary fact sheet of past and present status of Damascus: Sample                                                                                                           .                     

VI. Councilor Comments

VII. Adjourn

Attorneys Representing City of Damascus Filed a Petition with the Oregon Supreme Court

On Aug 14, 2019, attorneys representing the City of Damascus filed a petition with the Oregon Supreme Court to review (to challenge) the legality and constitutionality of the recent SSB 226, which became law under the Governor’s signature on July 15. It is now known as part of statutory law, Chapter 545, Sec 4. This new law seeks to validate retrospectively the disincorporation vote of 2016, and disregards the Appellate Court decision of May 1, 2019, which nullified the vote.

The petitioners are the City of Damascus, and individuals James B. De Young, Mayor, and Councilors Jeanne Robinson, Mark Fitz, and William Wehr, Council President. This review is authorized by Section 4 of the 2019 Act.


Damascus Mayor James De Young,, 503-658-2886

Coffee with the Council – Friday August 2, 2019 – 1 PM

Help us kick off the Neighborhood watch program for damascus

At this gathering, Mayor De Young will introduce the Neighborhood Watch Program for Damascus. Recent increased incidents of homelessness in our area and the disturbing home invasion that occurred Wednesday morning in one neighborhood, will require our community coming together to discuss and begin implementation of what we can do to remain a safe and livable community.

Please join us for this important kick off event.

We will be meeting in the seating area by the Starbucks booth at the Damascus Safeway. Sure hope you will be there too!



June 28, 2019 6:30 PM

Sunnyside Community Church, 16444 SE Hwy 212, Damascus, OR 97089





Consent items are considered routine and will not be allotted discussion time on the agenda. They will be adopted by one motion, unless a Councilor requests before the vote on the motion to have an item considered under Council Business.

 4.1 Resolution 19-700: Certification of Municipal Services


Public comment will be allowed on items under this part of the agenda following a staff report.

5.1 Resolution 19-701:

Declaring the City’s Election to Receive State Revenue Sharing Funds for Fiscal               Year 2019-2020

 5.2 Resolution 19-702

 Adopting the budget for fiscal year, 2019-2020, of the City of Damascus, Making              Appropriations, Imposing the Tax and Categorizing the Tax





The meeting location is accessible to persons with disabilities. A request for an interpreter for the hearing impaired or for other accommodations for persons with disabilities should be made at least 48 hours before the meeting to the City Recorder/City Manager or the Mayor at 503-658-2886.