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Think Out Loud

Within Bounds

Pete Springer/OPB

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to move to the Portland Metro area in the next twenty years. According to a new report by the Metro Regional Government, the region’s urban growth boundary (or UGB) does not need to expand to accommodate these residents. (Here’s a current PDF of the boundary.) Land use debates are old hat in Oregon, but this new development does raise the question: What will the Metro region look like in twenty years if we don’t expand the UGB? What precedent does this set for other UGBs in the state?

While the UGB has moved about three dozen times over the last thirty years, virtually all growth in the Portland Metro region in that time has taken place within the UGB set in 1979. Obviously many people, especially developers and home-owners just outside the boundary, want to build past the current line. But on this round Metro says it just isn’t necessary.

Every five years Metro is required by law to update the region’s Urban Growth Report and recommend whether or not the UGB needs to expand. It is intended to spur a regional debate about how to prepare for forecasted growth. (One which we want to have right here!) The official report will be released on March 31, but the gist of it is out already.

Based on their projections (PDF), Metro expects 224,000 to 301,500 new housing units will be needed by 2030. They say these should all be built within the current UGB. Where do you think these units should be built? Can you imagine infill housing in your neighborhood? Or a new condo next door? Would you like the region to grow past the growth boundary or within it? If you live outside the Metro region, do you want your regional UGB to change as population increases?


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