Agriculture vs. Business on Portland's Growth Boundary

Hillsboro, Oregon, a suburb of Portland, is an ambitious town on the urban growth boundary that is eager to expand into the farmland next door. How will Portland's system of growth-slowing government respond?

This article by Zach Dundas covers the more recent decisions in the Portland metro area to create "rural reserves", locking down some areas for up to 50 years in order to preserve their status through a fickle political process. Helvetia, the farming community that Hillsboro wants to absorb, is a candidate for preservation.

Dundas writes, "The intent was to create some long-term certainty. Certainty is big for farmers, who often face decisions that can affect their businesses for decades."

Meanwhile, a case can be made for Hillsboro's desire to remake Helvetia into office parks and industrial buildings.

"Intel, the silicon-processor giant, built manufacturing and advanced research facilities here in the 1970s, and today employs more than 15,000 people in the area. Other tech, manufacturing, logistics, and research businesses piggyback on Intel's massive presence."

Full Story: Pushing the Limits



Farming first

Portland should keep farming first. Growth boundaries become meaningless if they are continually encroached upon.

You can't eat microchips, but you can eat apples.

Urban Growth Boundary

Municipalities should be required to use the available land they already have within their borders before they demand more land. There are plenty of undeveloped parcels and surface parking lots that could be developed in Hillsboro (and the rest of the area within the UGB) that we don't need to look to expand the boundary for another 25 years.

Maintaining green spaces in town also, however


I agree with this with the exception that because green spaces are valuable in downtown centers, sometimes they should be kept open even if development pressure increases. I prefer urban centers that offer some elbow room and breathing space.

Cities across the US, including LA, have lost community gardens that were previously vacant lots, in order to pave the way for more of the same conventional building projects. There needs to be a balance in urban centers between the built and open/green environment.

But in this case...

It isn't a matter of preserving community gardens. Indeed, here in the Portland area community gardens and other such open spaces are viewed as untouchable by everybody.

In this case, we're talking about a matter of Hillsboro wanting to give the middle finger to our land use policies here in Oregon, and plow over neighboring farmland so they can build yet more sprawl. As the commenter above noted, Hillsboro (and for that matter, every other representative from Washington and Clackamas Counties pushing to expand their UGB) has more than enough vacant space already.

For that matter, so do we here in Portland, as well. There's more than enough room already here in the city for whatever growth comes (fwiw, the "growth projections" that Metro uses / cites are WAY overblown, imo, and were probably "projected" / sponsored by suburban homebuilders in Washington and Clackamas Counties).

Back to the original question - it's not about protecting community gardens or green space here - it's more about the regional counties outside of Portland / Multnomah wanting to turn the Willamette Valley into Orange County, and we're not going for that. Keeping Helvetia farmland is not standing in the way of "progress", by any means.

Oregon's "amongst-if-not-the-best-in-the-nation" land use laws are the real issue here, and just like everywhere else one or two "aggressive" suburbs would like to see everything within a day's drive of them paved over and turned to strip malls, cul de sacs and office parks. If they get their way, unfortunately we're all screwed.

Good luck Jay

Keep up the good work, Jay. Good luck!

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