This 2013 law mandates “simplified” methods for expansion of urban growth boundaries outside Metro in order to lighten the burden on cities and counties. A committee largely comprised of representatives and staff from state and local government entities and land use lawyers was created to write the new rules. The last year has been spent struggling to create simple rules without sacrificing accuracy when projecting residential land needs and counting the available acreage to meet those needs. Thus far, the committee acknowledges the new method for evaluating buildable lands is “pretty much” the same extensive analysis required by current rules.
For residential land needs, the committee is analyzing items such as existing density, different sources of population data, accessory dwelling units, mandated increases in multifamily units, the impact of frequently unoccupied vacation homes, prison populations, counting redevelopment units, and predicting urban redevelopment. The recent draft residential land method has 18 specific steps, and the committee frankly asks whether it is too complex.
This law and this committee present the question squarely: Is Oregon’s land use planning regime capable of reforming itself? Early indications appear doubtful.
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