Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Should the UGB expand?

From the Oregonian:

The Metro regional government wants your thoughts on a controversial assumption: That the Portland area can accommodate up to 300,000 new homes by 2030 without expanding the urban growth boundary.
The Metro Council distributed its preliminary report earlier this spring, and will release the official draft in September. Comments are due no later than June 30.

The report assumes that the growth can be absorbed through a combination of zoning changes, density increases, clearing polluted "brownfield" sites, incentives for housing
near transit centers and new financing tools to pay for infrastructure.
The council particularly wants comments on:
* The report's assumptions about the range of possible population and employment growth.
* The report's assumptions about the potential to accommodate more growth in urban centers, transit corridors and employment and industrial areas.
* The "policy questions" on page 9 of the executive summary of the residential report and pages 18 and 19 of the employment summary.

This is why I reject the assertion that the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) restricts the housing supply leading to more stable home prices. It can expand at political whim and doesn't restrict growth any more than a tight pair of jeans prevents you from gaining weight.

While I reject the UGB I feel our slow development approval process restricts housing supply because it takes so darn long to get things approved, but 'bureaucratic nightmare' doesn't sound as hip and progressive as 'UGB'.