04 Oct Portland’s Rapid Population Growth Expected to Continue Through 2018
There’s no doubt that Portland is growing considerably, and new population estimates from Portland State University shows that the city is growing faster than initially projected. Every day, new residents move to the city and more babies are born in the local hospitals.
Portland’s population is on a steep trajectory rise and expected to hit the 6.2 million mark by 2065.
Can Portland’s Urban Growth Boundary Help?
Under Oregon law, all cities and metropolitan areas have an Urban Growth Boundary. This is a land use line to help control urban expansion onto farms or forest lands and is a great way to manage the projected growth rate for Portland. It was created to protect farmlands, slow down sprawling, and promote urban density, by surrounding Portland and its major suburbs with a preservation ring.
Although the boundary has expanded 35 times and grown by 14%, the population has also grown by 61%. When the boundary was created in 1979, Portland’s median home price was the same as the national average of $63,000 and was relatively affordable. But now, Portland’s median home price has increased way over the national average. So how is the Urban Growth Boundary supposed to help?
Portland’s Urban Growth Boundary is designed for:
- Economic growth and development;
- Preserve farms and forests;
- Support equitable housing and;
- Develop new communities when needed.
A task force was set up in 2015 to look into the growth of the city (The Urban Growth Readiness Task Force) and included leaders from 25 cities and 3 counties. Their job was to look deeper into this population growth and help plan for the future. They came up with several recommendations, most importantly to ensure that growth only happens in communities that are ready. This means that communities must make homes more affordable and create more job opportunities to be classified as ‘ready’.
This recommendation is at the center of the 2018 growth boundary process. Cities have up to December 2017 to submit letters of interest for boundary expansions into adjacent urban reserves. But must complete concept plans and prove that they are ready to create new homes and neighborhoods. They must also prove that they’ve taken the necessary steps to make housing affordable, create jobs, improve transportation, and other important factors.
If the application is accepted, the growth boundary will be expanded. Most importantly though, the Metro Council will listen to the public before making a decision.