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Urban growth OregonFollowing several LUBA and appellate court decisions that invalidated urban growth boundary (UGB) amendments in McMinnville and Woodburn (twice), the 2013 Oregon legislature enacted HB 2254, legislation that purported to “simplify” the UGB amendment process by creating an alternate path for local governments outside the Portland Metro Area. However, LCDC’s efforts at implementing that legislation to date make manifest the difference between aspiring to simplicity and achieving it.

iStock_000072430455_LargeWe are pleased to share Ed Sullivan’s latest publication – “Urbanization in Oregon: Goal 14 and the Urban Growth Boundary” that was just published in The Urban Lawyer. In this article, Oregon’s urbanization process is examined through the lens of Goal 14 – the state’s principal method of controlling urban growth through implementation of the Urban Growth Boundary (“UGB”). When you fly overhead or take those quick trips to the Gorge, it is that stark line at the urban edge that divides city life from nature, farm and open space that catches our eye. Not many other states have successfully limited sprawl and given way to urban escape as well as we have in Oregon.

This paper provides a historical perspective about Oregon’s planning system in the context of the national movement for planning and moves through a step-by-step analysis of the evolution of Goal 14 and its amendments in 1988 and 2000. The article discusses the important factors that influence urbanization and application of Oregon’s statutes and rules, including population forecasting and the urban reserves process. Next, the article covers the interplay of Goal 14 with other Oregon Statewide Planning Goals and administrative rules. Most importantly for planners, the article examines the Goal 14 case law development over the 40 years since its inception. The article explores the “need” cases, locational factors, and need v. location. In Ed Sullivan’s artful manner, he manages to summarize the McMinnville case (1000 Friends of Oregon v. LCDC) in two paragraphs!

Of course the article would not be complete without the final discussion of the Barkers Five, LLC v. LCDC, 323 decision and the Grand Bargain. The stakes are high for property holders on the edge of the UGB and every one of them is vying to be next in line for inclusion within the boundary. We are left with the question of whether a legislative fix will be required in every circumstance – politicizing the planning process to an even greater extent than already exists.


The latest round of urban growth boundary (UGB) expansion in the Portland Metropolitan area is likely to go back to Metro for further justification.  On April 19, 2012, the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) issued a staff report to Land Conservation and Development C ommission (LCDC) recommending partial approval, but remanding most of the important elements of Metro’s most recent attempt to expand its UGB. 

Metro, the area’s regional government, is responsible for adopting a comprehensive UGB for the various jurisdictions within the Portland area.  Its decisions on UGB expansions are typically complex and lengthy and this decision was no exception.  The current round began several years ago, with Metro initially adopting a decision that it would expand its boundary in December 2010.  Subsequently, LCDC postponed consideration of that decision and then consolidated it with Metro’s October 2011 decision on where, exactly, to expand the UGB.

With the recession, the Gulf Oil Spill and overseas wars, and battle raging over the future of urban growth in the Metro area, Oregonians may be forgiven for not bringing to mind a previous crisis and the resolution of that crisis chosen by voters after much debate.  In 2004, voters passed Measure 37 to provide “just compensation” for property owners who claimed their balance sheets were reduced by state or local land use regulations.  The remedy under the Measure was either payment for that “lost value” or (as was overwhelmingly the case) a waiver of those regulations that had been enacted since the current owner acquired the property.  Over 6,850 Measure 37 claims, affecting over 750,000 acres of land were filed. 

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