HomeDiagramsDatabaseMapsForumSkyscraper Posters
     

Go Back   SkyscraperPage Forum > Discussion Forums > City Discussions

Reply

 
Thread Tools Display Modes
     
     
  #1  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2017, 4:23 AM
ChargerCarl ChargerCarl is offline
SUSPENDED
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Los Angeles/San Francisco
Posts: 2,026
Portland's Urban Growth Boundary: A Driver of Suburban Sprawl

Portland's Urban Growth Boundary: A Driver of Suburban Sprawl



Quote:
Portland, OR--Ever since Portland adopted an urban growth boundary (UGB), there have been numerous and very legitimate criticisms of the policy. The boundary has increased housing prices, devalued the properties of certain land owners, and robbed consumers of housing styles they might prefer. But there is one potential negative that has been overlooked--and is rather ironic--given the plan's original intentions. The boundary may be driving suburban sprawl to points well beyond the Portland metro area.

The boundary was first drawn in 1979 by Metro, a 3-county, 24-city regional planning body that helps dictate land-use decisions for the Portland MSA. It was designed to protect farmland, slow sprawl, and encourage urban density, by surrounding Portland and its key suburbs with a preservation ring of large-lot agricultural zoning.

Although the boundary has been expanded 35 times, its total land area, according to ModernFarmer.com, has grown by only 14%, while population has jumped 61%. Therein lies the problem. When the boundary was drawn in 1979, Portland's median home prices were around the national average of $63,000, and the metro remained affordable while suffering through recession and population decline in the 1980s. But the boundary didn't prove so practical once population growth revived. Between 1990 and 2000, metro Portland's median home prices doubled, and they have continued increasing to $358,000, 90% above the national average.

This has prevented many people from living in the metro area--much less the growth boundary, where prices are much higher. But it appears that, rather than foregoing Portland's job market altogether, they're just leapfrogging to even more remote areas.

Beyond just the statistics, this would be evident to any Metro planner who bothered to notice the lay of the land beyond their 3-county domain. While it is true that when passing many parts of the growth boundary, the land shifts instantly from urbanization to beautiful countryside, a further drive reveals that a lot of the growth is just further extending. For example, 2 of Oregon’s 4 fastest-growing cities are small ones—Sandy and Canby--that sit about 10 miles beyond the growth boundary. Just north of Portland, across the Columbia river and outside the UGB, is Vancouver, which is routinely one of Washington state's fastest-growing cities. Since 1990, its population has nearly quadrupled from 46,000 to 173,000, and it too has fast-growing northern suburbs. And Salem, 60 miles to the south, has shown formidable growth recently also.

Well, it turns out that a lot of these places are just becoming commuter suburbs for Portland. Average commute times in Sandy, for example, are 29 minutes, suggesting that much of its population drives into the city daily. About 31,000 make this daily trip from Salem. And Vancouver-to-Portland commute times have increased by 300% since 2011, because of all the added people crossing the river. In fact, a 2015 analysis by demographer Wendell Cox found that Portland’s combined statistical area—which embodies the commuter networks emanating from given MSAs--is starting to resemble metros like New York. For example, 15% of resident workers in Benton County, which enshrouds Corvallis, now commute to one of the Portland MSA's 5 main counties, even though it is 85 miles away.

"Perhaps the greatest irony is that an 'urban containment' policy designed to prevent sprawl could well be accelerating it," writes Cox. "Higher prices, in part due to this policy, have forced more people to look ever further for housing that is affordable."

There are two big reasons why this UGB seems to be backfiring. The first is that, after Metro drew the boundary around Portland, the land inside it wasn't sufficiently deregulated. Instead, parochial Nimby battles and anti-density scaremongering means the city, even today, maintains a mostly single-family residential character.

The second is that Metro didn't anticipate how complex the consumer market for sprawl can be. Like other major metros, there is likely a large contingent of the 2.4-million-person Portland metro that wants to work in the urbanized area, but doesn't want to live within it, or can't find their preferred housing style there. Their natural settling point, in an open market, might be the undeveloped land most immediately adjacent. But because Portland's UGB limits these areas, this group must settle further out.

Sadly, this outcome exists wherever cities mix tight infill regulations with adjacent suburban growth restraints. For example, much of the developable land on the peninsulas immediately north and south of San Francisco is off-limits due either to preservation policies or Nimbyism in different municipalities. As a result, the region's fastest growth is occurring 40 miles away--in cities like Dublin and Antioch--that require 90-minute rush-hour commutes into San Francisco.

Similar dynamics are occurring in Boulder, which has a preservation ring, and even my home county of Albemarle. The only land within Albemarle that the Comprehensive Plan allows for development is the city of Charlottesville—a small university town with a strong economy—and some surrounding slivers of growth area. The remaining 95% is dedicated to rural preservation. This means Albemarle has median home prices of $306,000, and that much of the workforce makes long commutes in from neighboring counties.

The lesson here--at least for those who think the laws of supply and demand apply to land just like everything else--is that there are consequences to UGB-style policies. And they may not even be the ones that environmental or density advocates want. That is, if bustling cities prevent what can be vaguely defined as "sprawl" on their nearest virgin land, it's not like the people will go away and the sprawl will stop. It may resurface in even more remote places. This is counterproductive both for these advocates, and for the people who must suffer long commutes each day.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/scottbe.../#5ff327bb6964
__________________
This Machine Kills NIMBYs
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #2  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2017, 4:48 AM
pdxtex's Avatar
pdxtex pdxtex is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 2,227
i think its more like, portland is the largest, most concentrated job market in the state. the csa is over 3 million people and the state is only 3.98 million. so everybody lives in the nw corner, and some market area are starting to bleed into each other. i can see how the boundary is responsible for inflated home prices and sprawl across the river in washington though. houses, are/were way cheaper in vancouver but the 5 mile commute back across the bridge from downtown can take hour on some days. traffic here has gotten fucked up in the last decade. dont believe the transit hype. we have a good system but 5 miles from downtown and its car city usa just like any other place. i bought a house finally but im already planning my exodus in a few years...
__________________
Portland!! Where young people go to retire.

Last edited by pdxtex; Mar 30, 2017 at 5:00 AM.
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #3  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2017, 5:53 AM
mhays mhays is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 15,363
Bullshit. Wendell Cox makes an appearance of course.

The outer counties might get more growth as a result, but they control growth too, including on the Washington side, so it's more orderly either way.

Meanwhile they're preserving a lot of priceless natural areas as well as farmland. And Portland is relatively cheap by West Coast standards.

True about transit though. Commute shares are in LA/Denver territory.
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #4  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2017, 6:05 AM
ChargerCarl ChargerCarl is offline
SUSPENDED
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Los Angeles/San Francisco
Posts: 2,026
Quote:
Originally Posted by mhays View Post
Bullshit. Wendell Cox makes an appearance of course.

The outer counties might get more growth as a result, but they control growth too, including on the Washington side, so it's more orderly either way.

Meanwhile they're preserving a lot of priceless natural areas as well as farmland. And Portland is relatively cheap by West Coast standards.

True about transit though. Commute shares are in LA/Denver territory.
I don't see the logic. People have to live some where, and if you stop them from living in the area they prefer they'll move elsewhere. General vs partial equilibrium.

You can't control growth everywhere. The math simply doesn't work. It's a zero sum game.
__________________
This Machine Kills NIMBYs
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #5  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2017, 6:10 AM
mhays mhays is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 15,363
No, one major outcome is that people live on smaller lots or in multifamily.
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #6  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2017, 6:14 AM
ChargerCarl ChargerCarl is offline
SUSPENDED
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Los Angeles/San Francisco
Posts: 2,026
Quote:
Originally Posted by mhays View Post
No, one major outcome is that people live on smaller lots or in multifamily.
Portland doesn't seem willing to do that to keep prices in check.

Also you need to allow SOME suburban growth to truly keep prices affordable for low income families since the marginal cost of high density housing is high.

Ceteris Paribus Portland would be better off without the boundary.
__________________
This Machine Kills NIMBYs
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #7  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2017, 6:19 AM
mhays mhays is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 15,363
They could do the same thing by allowing more density. And save that natural land and farmland while they're at it...a huge priority. And encourage transit use.

There is NOTHING expensive about a small townhouse or apartment on a small lot that's cheap because development sites are plentiful. All it takes is zoning and a streamlined process. (Labor etc. is also a factor, but your idea doesn't help that.)
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #8  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2017, 6:22 AM
ChargerCarl ChargerCarl is offline
SUSPENDED
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Los Angeles/San Francisco
Posts: 2,026
Quote:
Originally Posted by mhays View Post
They could do the same thing by allowing more density. And save that natural land and farmland while they're at it...a huge priority. And encourage transit use.
That would still drive people to commute from farther away at the margin relative to a regime of unlimited allowable density and no urban growth boundary. It's still a zero sum game.

Not sure why you think a low marginal value activity like farming near a large city deserves protection
__________________
This Machine Kills NIMBYs
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #9  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2017, 6:22 AM
tablemtn tablemtn is online now
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 702
I've seen arguments of this sort for years about Portland's UGB, but is Portland actually more sprawling than a typical American metro area of 2.5 million or so? If not, it's hard to fault the existence of the UGB for the sprawl which does exist.

The other factor is that a lot of the land held back from development is farmland within the Willamette Valley. The Willamette Valley has some of the best farmland in the US, but it's not a gigantic region; every acre of farm plowed under is an acre gone within a limited zone of such farmland. That's a very direct use-priority tradeoff that other areas don't necessarily face.
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #10  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2017, 6:23 AM
mhays mhays is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 15,363
Then the distant places should control sprawl too. And we don't need to expand any roads to facilitate waste.
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #11  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2017, 6:25 AM
ChargerCarl ChargerCarl is offline
SUSPENDED
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Los Angeles/San Francisco
Posts: 2,026
Quote:
Originally Posted by mhays View Post
Then the distant places should control sprawl too. And we don't need to expand any roads to facilitate waste.
Then people will either drive till they can afford it or move out of the region all together.

It's STILL a zero sum game.
__________________
This Machine Kills NIMBYs
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #12  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2017, 6:27 AM
ChargerCarl ChargerCarl is offline
SUSPENDED
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Los Angeles/San Francisco
Posts: 2,026
Quote:
Originally Posted by tablemtn View Post

The other factor is that a lot of the land held back from development is farmland within the Willamette Valley. The Willamette Valley has some of the best farmland in the US, but it's not a gigantic region; every acre of farm plowed under is an acre gone within a limited zone of such farmland. That's a very direct use-priority tradeoff that other areas don't necessarily face.
If the land creates more value producing agricultural products then it won't be developed. Not sure why it needs protection.
__________________
This Machine Kills NIMBYs
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #13  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2017, 6:32 AM
pdxtex's Avatar
pdxtex pdxtex is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 2,227
^^^is your avatar roof koreans? sorry, thats amusing to me...concerning portland multifamily, they are in the process of rewriting portions of the zoning code to accomodate higher density residential within proximity to transit lines but its still in the works. its still mostly relegated to the very central neighborhoods and along major thoroughfares all together. otherwise its single family city...this town really needs to allow duplexes and patio homes in sf neighborhoods too. instead some developers just flatten older homes and build mongo no yard mega houses right in the middle of old neighborhoods. not a good use of space and they usually end up looking heinous.
__________________
Portland!! Where young people go to retire.
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #14  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2017, 6:35 AM
ChargerCarl ChargerCarl is offline
SUSPENDED
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Los Angeles/San Francisco
Posts: 2,026
haha yes it is
__________________
This Machine Kills NIMBYs
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #15  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2017, 6:37 AM
tablemtn tablemtn is online now
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 702
Quote:
If the land creates more value producing agricultural products then it won't be developed. Not sure why it needs protection.
Because it's extremely high-quality agricultural land that doesn't exist in vast quantities. It doesn't really matter if the economic value produced by the farms is greater than the nominal GDP bump from a housing development; it matters that the land is used for farming.

In other words, pure GDP is only one consideration. There are many other considerations involved. A family heirloom might be worth more if it is melted down and decomposed into little ingots of metal, but that's not really the point.
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #16  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2017, 6:47 AM
ChargerCarl ChargerCarl is offline
SUSPENDED
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Los Angeles/San Francisco
Posts: 2,026
Quote:
Originally Posted by tablemtn View Post
Because it's extremely high-quality agricultural land that doesn't exist in vast quantities. It doesn't really matter if the economic value produced by the farms is greater than the nominal GDP bump from a housing development; it matters that the land is used for farming.

In other words, pure GDP is only one consideration. There are many other considerations involved. A family heirloom might be worth more if it is melted down and decomposed into little ingots of metal, but that's not really the point.
I don't think you understand how markets work. All of which you're worried about is incorporated in the price signal.

High quality agricultural land is high quality because it yields a high value product.
__________________
This Machine Kills NIMBYs
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #17  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2017, 7:25 AM
TexasPlaya's Avatar
TexasPlaya TexasPlaya is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: ATX-HTOWN
Posts: 2,155
Quote:
Originally Posted by mhays View Post
Then the distant places should control sprawl too. And we don't need to expand any roads to facilitate waste.
Good luck.
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #18  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2017, 7:31 AM
TexasPlaya's Avatar
TexasPlaya TexasPlaya is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: ATX-HTOWN
Posts: 2,155
I wish park and rides would become as fashionable as rail for suburbanites.
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #19  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2017, 7:59 AM
tablemtn tablemtn is online now
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 702
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChargerCarl View Post
I don't think you understand how markets work. All of which you're worried about is incorporated in the price signal.

High quality agricultural land is high quality because it yields a high value product.
Yikes. "Price signals" for a fixed asset like land decompose things into a moment-in-time economic value based on factors like anticipated rents.

I don't particularly care about those. I am saying that this farmland is of sufficient quality and sufficient rarity that I really don't care if its GDP value AS FARMLAND is lower than it would be as housing, because there are concerns beyond that.

Central Park would be more valuable as skyscrapers than a park, at least to a point - should Central Park be built up?

Most people would violently reject that idea. Because the economic value of the land is only part of its overall value, part (perhaps most) of which is not monetarily-denominated.
Reply With Quote
     
     
  #20  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2017, 12:43 PM
dave8721 dave8721 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Miami
Posts: 2,658
If you want to go full on growth boundary like South Florida (which didn't really have a choice) you need to open up higher density housing on a wide scale like South Florida does. The MSA has added 500,000 people since 2010 with very little change in the geographic footprint, so it can be done. People just have to accept living at higher densities in the suburbs (see South Florida or Southern California)
Reply With Quote
     
     
This discussion thread continues

Use the page links to the lower-right to go to the next page for additional posts
 
 
Reply

Go Back   SkyscraperPage Forum > Discussion Forums > City Discussions
Forum Jump


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 1:46 AM.

     

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.