Urban Growth Boundaries

1000 Friends Staff and Board
Thu, 07/28/2016 - 12:20pm

It's time to double down on their protection

You may already know UGBs are the single most contested aspect of Oregon’s land use planning program. UGBs make Oregon different by giving landowners certainty, shaping our cities and towns, and enabling our agricultural economy to thrive without risk of urban sprawl. Today UGBs face a pressing threat: special interests are claiming they drive up housing costs.

This false claim holds dangerous power as Oregon’s population grows, cities declare housing states of emergency, and the legislature gets involved. A growing contingent of special interests would like to see UGBs dismantled and are using affordable housing as rhetoric to do so. Because of your continued support, 1000 Friends will continue to push back these forces.

This myth is gaining traction. You can do something about it by first knowing the facts:

  • A land shortage for housing is not possible because every Oregon city must have a 20-year supply of land for housing within its UGB. Any claim about land supply is simply not true. And, any newly developed land will not result in affordable housing.
  • Development at the edge of our cities and towns is really expensive because infrastructure like roads, sewer pipes, water lines, stormwater services must be extended to those areas. This unnecessary burden to taxpayers results moreover in higher rates and fees for services. Would-be residents at the edge must be wealthy enough to afford homes at above-average prices due to development costs, plus must be prepared to pay higher transportation costs.
  • Expanding UGBs does not result in more housing. Here’s proof: Over the last two decades 93% of all housing units permitted across the Portland-Metro UGB were within the original 1979 UGB lines, despite 38,000 acres of expansion since then. (Metro Regional Government Report)
  • Housing needs and preferences are changing. Studies show more than half of all Baby Boomers prefer homes in walkable neighborhoods with shorter commutes and better access to amenities. The preference for walkability and access to transit is even higher for Millennials. Oregon doesn’t need more land to build on: what we need is more housing in areas where people want to live.

Every year, special interests and their myths convince some legislators to try to weaken Oregon's 40-year old land use planning program. Every year, 1000 Friends of Oregon and allies across the state -- from Eastern Oregon ranchers to Portland bicycle commuters to Willamette Valley farmers -- successfully thwart these brazen attempts to devalue and pave over farmland, create more sprawl, and add hidden tax burdens for citizens.

Adding housing at the edge of our cities is not an affordable, environmental, nor equitable solution. We need to build better where we already live; expanding the UGB is not the answer.

Thank you for joining with me to support 1000 Friends of Oregon. Now, more than ever, we need to stand together to protect UGBs!  

Photo Credit: North Bethany UGB Line by Urbanland Magazine