1999 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: Tony Chenhansa <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1999 10:32:34 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-brownfields
Subject: [CPEO-BIF] "Urban-Growth Boundaries & Housing Affordability: Lessons from Port

CONTACT: George Passantino, 310-391-2245
Report Cautions Against "Portlandization" of America
Research Identifies Wrinkles In "Smart Growth" Promised Land

Los Angeles, California -- While environmentalists and anti-sprawl
activists across the nation point to Portland as a model of land-use
planning, new research suggests that much of the mystique is verblown. A
report released today by Reason Public Policy Institute (RPPI) argues that
Portland's self-inflicted growth controls come at a steep price, namely
unaffordable housing and a growing housing shortage.

"Where once it was among the most affordable cities in the nation, it now
holds the dubious distinction of being among the least affordable cities in
the west. How this can be 'smart,' one must wonder," states Samuel Staley,
director of RPPI's Urban Futures Program and co-author of the report,
Urban-Growth Boundaries and Housing Affordability: Lessons from Portland.

The study points out that the heralded Portland urban-growth boundary,
which is aimed at limiting suburban development by prohibiting development
outside of a fixed boundary, has actually propelled a decline in the
availability of affordable housing for low and moderate-income families.

According to one estimate, 80,000 Portland homes became unaffordable
between 1995 and 1997 due to dramatic housing-price appreciation. As
available land within the boundary becomes scarcer, competition for the
land and the additional costs associated with urban redevelopment and
construction drive prices up and out of reach of working families.

 Another dangerous effect of the urban-growth boundary and its limits on
the urban real-estate market, according to the report, is a growing housing
gap. At current rates, absent an expansion of the boundary, Portland could
suffer a significant housing-unit deficit in less than twenty years. Staley
notes that despite pledges to increase the boundary to support necessary
growth and avoid this deficit, the record leaves such future efforts in
doubt. Boundaries tend to make planning decisions difficult and political,
a mix favoring anti-growth advocates.

"Despite all of the idolization, growth boundaries have real problems which
are now beginning to bubble to the surface in Portland, such as
unaffordable housing and housing deficits. Smart Growth advocates had
better wise up to these facts before they hitch their wagon to a
questionable land-use model," concludes Staley.

Reason Public Policy Institute is one of the nation's leading sources of
market-based land-use and economic-development policy solutions. In
addition, the organization conducts academic, peer-reviewed research into
the fields of transportation, environment, privatization and government
reform, education, and social policy.

Copies of Urban Growth Boundaries and Housing Affordability: Lessons from
Portland are available for $5 at 310-391-2245 or the RPPI Web site,

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