Metro’s top manager says there’s no need to make more Portland-area land available for development this year.
Martha Bennett, the regional government’s chief operating officer, will recommend that the region’s urban growth boundary not be expanded now. If the Metro Council agrees, it would be the first time the body has voted not to expand the boundary since the current process was put in place in the 1990s.
But, Bennett said, the council should revisit its decision in three years rather than waiting the usual six.
Critics of the plan have complained that Metro’s growth forecast relies on observations from the beginnings of the economic recovery. As a result, it predicts more new apartments than the historic norm, both in Portland and its suburbs, and fewer single-family houses.
But Bennett said the forecast calls for more one- and two-person households than in the past, a trend driven by millennials moving out on their own and baby boomers becoming empty nesters. It also calls for lower median incomes, following a national trend toward low- and high-wage jobs, with fewer in the middle.
That possibility has alarmed some people, Bennett said, but “there’s a difference between saying they think the numbers are wrong and ‘we don’t like the pictures the numbers paint,’ ” she said.
Legal wrangling over the land available to add to the growth boundary has complicated Metro’s decision.
Property owners in Multnomah and Clackamas counties have challenged earlier Metro decisions on urban and rural reserves. Urban reserves are available to be added to the urban growth boundary over the next 50 years, while rural reserves are protected over the same period.
Until the reserves are finalized, Metro can’t add land in those counties.
“Even if the numbers showed that Metro should expand the urban growth boundary, none of the urban reserve areas in Multnomah or Clackamas counties could be included,” she said.
- The Oregonian article above is a little misleading since the final decision isn’t scheduled until the end of this year, but the leanings are there. In any event, the dialogue has also been to extend the UGB to the EAST – to Clackamas County – NOT to the WEST. The best source of information on the Metro Regional UGB is via the Metro weeklies and the website: http://www.oregonmetro.gov/public-projects/growth-management-decision