Urban & Rural Reserves
Update: September 5, 2012: 1000 Friends is appealing the reserves plan to the Oregon Court of Appeals. Specifically, we are concerned about the process used by Washington County to designate rural and urban reserves on its revised map. For more info, click here to read a letter from our Executive Director describing our decision, or click here to read our press release announcing the appeal (pdf). Click here to see a listing of recent media stories on the appeal. We will update this page with further information as it becomes available.
Background on Urban and Rural Reserves: Saving Farmland & Building Livable Communities
Oregon is blessed with some of the world's best farmland. Agriculture in Oregon provides tens of thousands of jobs and healthy, locally grown food for farmers markets, restaurants and grocery stores. Oregon agricultural products are also exported around the world, making agriculture a critical element of the state's economy.
Managing urban growth makes our cities and towns more livable, reduces air and water pollution, increases our transportation options and helps prevent sprawl from gobbling up valuable farms, forests and natural areas. It also reduces greenhouse gas emissions by keeping our "carbon footprint" smaller.
Better Planning for a Better Future
The population of the Portland metropolitan region is expected to grow by one million people by the year 2030. Our region faces a tremendous challenge - how to provide future housing, jobs, schools, parks and other amenities and still maintain our cherished quality of life.
The 2007 Legislature gave the Portland region a potentially valuable new tool to shape our future: the ability to designate urban and rural reserves. Metro and the counties of Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington will jointly designate which land will be protected and which land will be developed over the next 40-50 years.
Urban and rural reserves could improve the existing process of urban growth boundary expansion by providing greater predictability for farmers, landowners and communities as to where future growth will occur - but only if we all participate in the decision-making.
We have a unique and important opportunity to shape the future of our region for generations. If done correctly, the decisions on urban and rural reserves will:
- Protect our most valuable farm land from future development;
- Ensure that future growth will support healthier communities and greater opportunities to walk, bike, and take transit for our transportation needs;
- Help the region reduce the emissions that contribute to global warming pollution.
In 2010, Metro and the counties of Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington submitted their joint decision on urban and rural reserves to the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC). Unfortunately, Washington County's proposal envisioned including thousands of acres of valuable farmland as urban reserves, and 1000 Friends and our allies challenged this proposal before the state. In October 2010, the state Land Conservation and Development Commission agreed with 1000 Friends' appeal, and remanded the Washington County reserves map.
In April 2011, the Washington County Urban and Rural Reserves process entered a new phase, as a new reserves map was jointly approved by Metro Council and the Washington County Board of Commissioners. In August 2011, LCDC approved the revised map, and in summer 2012, released its written approval.
In September 2012, 1000 Friends appealed the reserves plan to the Oregon Court of Appeals. Click here to read a letter from our director explaining why.
Thank you to all who have participated in this process and shared concerns about the new map.
The documents below contain additional detail about the areas we are particularly concerned about.
- Blue Oregon, September 7: "Why we're challenging the reserves plan" (Guest post by our Executive Director)
- OPB, September 7: "Multiple Groups Challenge Portland's Urban Growth Plan"
- Capital Press, September 7: "Urban, rural reserves under appeal"
- Metro News, September 11: "Reserves battles head to appeals court"