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Metro UGB Decision Conflicts with Claims of Housing Crisis
November 19, 2015

BY KRISTIN FRENCH

The November 12, 2015 Metro Council decision to not expand the Urban Growth Boundary (“UGB”) flies in the face of statewide planning goals and blithely ignores present-day housing crisis indicators the acknowledgement of housing crisis conditions by government leaders.  The Urban Growth Report (“UGR”) divines that the regional survey of housing preferences is irrelevant, and clings to the mistaken assumption that almost everyone will live in a Portland apartment.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales declares a citywide housing emergency in response to the City’s steeply rising rents and housing shortage. Over the past year, Portland area rent increases in the range of 15 percent constitute the highest increases in the nation. Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, head of the Portland Housing Bureau, states that the people of Portland can’t afford to wait. “Our city’s housing crisis demands thoughtful, immediate action.” In early November 2015, Oregon Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli addresses the topic of affordable housing, characterizing the affordable housing “state of emergency” as a symptom of deeper underlying problems, including “expensive housing due to erratic land use laws.”

Just weeks later, on November 12, 2015, the Metro Council votes unanimously 7 – 0 to hold the current Urban Growth Boundary (“UGB”) without allowing any expansion or modification to accommodate the development of single-family housing units within the UGB at appropriate price ranges and in a manner that would provide flexibility and options regarding housing location, type and density, as required by Oregon’s Statewide Planning Goal 10 (Housing).

Since the 2014 release of the UGR, single-family housing development in towns outside of Metro’s UGB has accelerated because the lack of available land within the Metro UGB is pushing many families to the exurbs.  Tigard, Tualatin and Oregon City lose, Estacada, Sandy and Newberg win.

Many industry pros and scores of mayors are critical of the UGR’s figures and projections about the assumed unprecedented shift to multifamily, and that the report plainly ignores how restricting the supply of land increases housing prices.

The recent Metro Council decision ensures that single-family housing affordability and supply concerns will continue to plague the Portland area.  
 



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