Metro Council Passes 1,985-Acre Urban Growth Boundary Expansion

On October 20, 2011 the Metro Council approved a 1,985-acre Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) expansion for the Portland metropolitan region. The expansion is split into four areas, all of them in Washington County, including roughly 1,650 acres for new residential developments and 330 acres intended to attract industrial employers that use large lots.

A map of the expansion, provided by Metro, is available here.

1000 Friends advocated for limited to no expansion of the UGB in 2011, based on the region's current economic state, an oversupply of existing housing and developable industrial land, and the costs of extending services and infrastructure to expansion areas, when our existing neighborhoods are in need of considerable investment. Evidence shows that focusing on large-lot industrial employment growth is not a strategy likely to produce the sustained economic growth our region needs, and needlessly opens more of our limited farmland to development.

 In Oregon and nationwide, most new jobs come from existing small businesses and small start-up companies, not from new large businesses re-locating to a region. 1000 Friends believes the region should target investment in existing businesses and the existing urban land supply, rather than add more farmland at the edge.  Learn more about why 1000 Friends believes this expansion was unnecessary, financially unsustainable, and not supportive of the region's agricultural economy and quality of life.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to contact your Metro Councilor to ask him or her to invest in existing neighborhoods and hold a strong line on the UGB boundary this year. Although the Councilors voted to expand the boundary, your voice reminded them of the importance of thinking very carefully about an expansion this year.

In its UGB decision, the Council specified that growth in the South Hillsboro area (the largest of the residential expansions, at just over 1000 acres) must include at least 10,776 new housing units and cannot count new housing in undeveloped areas previously included in the UGB toward that total. This effectively means that the South Hillsboro area will achieve a higher density than Hillsboro had originally proposed. However, it remains to be seen whether the overall density, design, mix of uses, and affordability of the housing is sufficient to support transit-oriented development that will limit traffic, reduce our climate impact, and provide housing for all. The City of Hillsboro must now plan the area to comply with Metro’s direction.

1000 Friends will continue to be actively involved as the UGB expansion moves on to review by the state. The decision must be reviewed by the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC), which will likely hold a hearing early in 2012.

Click here to learn more about the region's Urban Growth Boundary and the proposed expansion.

And make sure that Metro hears from you in the future as it considers UGB expansions, transportation invesments, and other actions that will affect the quality of life and economic success of the region--sign up for the Opt In online opinion panel. Learn more here.