A new land-use approach

Portland, OR (June 5, 2007)- Over the past few years, expansions of the Portland-area urban growth boundary have added more than 20,000 acres for future housing, public services and jobs. But while these expansions are needed for a growing population, they aren’t exactly making everyone happy. Nor are they providing immediate or even mid-term relief to the problem of a dwindling land supply.

The list of those who have concerns about these urban expansions is diverse:
* Some city and county officials say future growth is being focused in areas where cities and school districts will be hard-pressed to provide services. Certainly, Gresham has struggled to extend urban services to Pleasant Valley, and it is now embarking on a similar process for the Springwater area.
* Farm groups are concerned that past urban-growth decisions foretell that even more farmland will be lost in the future.
* Environmental groups have said recent urban expansions have not sufficiently protected environmentally sensitive areas.
Given such a track record, we think it is reasonable to try a new approach. That’s why we support Senate Bill 1011, which would allow Metro and local counties the authority to designate lands that over the next 40 to 50 years would be protected as urban reserves for jobs and housing, and designate other lands to be protected as rural reserves for agriculture, forestry or environmental needs.
Senate Bill 1011 is not the complete fix for a 30-year-old statewide land-use system that is in need of an overhaul. But it would provide greater certainty to farmers, businesses and city leaders who need to know where the region anticipates growing.
For the full article, visit the Gresham Outlook.