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In 2007, when the legislature established a system for designating urban and rural reserves, many observers saw the reserve process as a panacea to deal with the contentious process of changing the Portland Metro urban growth boundary (UGB). Under the urban reserve process, identifying urban land needs based on a 50-year projection rather than the historic 6-year cycle for changing the UGB, lands designated urban reserve would stand in the queue prioritized for inclusion in the UGB when expansion was appropriate. Similarly, land within any rural reserve was off-limits for consideration within the UGB within that same 50-year planning period.

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.

 

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