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DLCD Issues Staff Report on Metro Urban Growth Boundary

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.

LCDC reviews the decisions similarly to how it would conduct periodic review and its staff at DLCD has recommended that significant portions of Metro’s decision be remanded.  Specifically, DLCD believes the amount and location of the expansion was plausible, but did not think it was adequately supported by the record.  The key missing pieces, according to DLCD staff, are (1) a failure to reconcile the population forecast with the needs for the particular numbers, types and densities of housing units and (2) the lack of an adequate inventory and analysis of employment land.

The elephant in the room, which DLCD mentions, but does not emphasize, is Metro’s reliance on the urban reserve decision made by Metro, but which has not been blessed by LCDC and likely will be appealed.  As Metro chose only to expand onto urban reserve land, if the urban reserve decision is remanded or overturned the whole exercise might be for naught. 

DLCD’s staff report can be found on its web site.  LCDC will consider the staff report and recommendation at its May 10-11, 2012 meeting.

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