One of Portland’s Primary Principles: We’re Not California

by | Sep 16, 2009

One of the charming aspects of life in the Portland Metro is this not little thing called the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). It’s a line beyond which, “the city” can’t go.

According to Eric Mortenson of The Oregonian, Portland’s elected regional government known as Metro–which serves more than 1.5 million residents in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties–believes the Portland area can grow by one million more residents over the next 20 years, without pushing the UGB beyond its current dimensions.

Michael Jordan, Metro’s chief operating officer, said Tuesday at the Metro Council meeting that the region can buffer prime farmland and preserve key natural areas while providing land for the projected newcomers and for the additional jobs they will need.

Jordan laid out his recommendations backed by a 3-inch stack of studies, charts and maps compiled by planners during the past two years.

Among the findings: There are 15,000 acres of vacant, buildable land within the current urban growth boundary, or UGB, for Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties. That’s about 35 times the size of downtown Portland, according to Metro.

Naturally, there is opposition to this vision of Portland’s future. Mike Wells, spokesman for the Oregon Chapter of NAIOP, a commercial real estate development association, says, “We respectfully disagree with some of the underlying assumptions” of the Metro report. “We embrace the goal of compact development and making wise use of infrastructure, but we challenge some of the assumptions as just not realistic.”