Does Portland's Innovative Planning Hinder its Competitiveness?

Wendell Cox questions the economic impact of the city's much-celebrated land use and transportation policies, which are intended to strengthen the urban core and discourage sprawl.

Cox suggests that stringent growth regulations by Portland Metro, the three county planning body, cause the region to lose jobs and residents to its neighbors. While Multnomah County, the core of the Portland metro region, lost 20,000 jobs between 2001 and 2009, nearby Clark County, which has less stringent land use regulations and lower housing prices, added 13,000.

Cox also argues that the city is over-investing in transit at the expense of roadways, spending $5 billion on new light rail and bus systems over the past 25 years even as telecommuting is on the rise. In 2009, nearly as many residents worked from home as commuted on public transit.

'A higher cost of living driven by policies that have kept prices 40% higher than before the housing bubble (adjusted for household incomes), and increasing traffic congestion make Portland's three county area less competitive and nearby alternatives more attractive,' writes Cox.

Full Story: Portland Metro's Competitiveness Problem



misleading statistics

I can't tell if Cox means to mislead, or if he simply poorly interprets and explains the statistics he uses.

He argues that pro-transit policies are not working, based on a declining transit mode share. This is an argument that appears time after time. However, when you look at actual ridership, you find it has increased rapidly and consistently (see here for the case of Trimet: If you look further, you find that the transit system has capacity problems that restrain further transit growth.

The correct conclusion is that the transit system has not expanded rapidly enough to keep pace with growth and demand. That's the exact opposite of the position implied by people like Cox, who clearly want to advance a policy that invests less in transit.

He means to mislead. That,

He means to mislead. That, or he's been lying for so long that he's started to believe his own lies. I see this happening with many "conservatives."

Overbuilt suburban areas are going to become the slums of the 21st century as energy supplies continue to decline. Only those areas that can function without cars will stand a chance. Car-cities were a product of cheap oil and will cease to function without it. No combination of alternative energy sources will remedy this problem because it requires fossil energy to build the alternative energy infrastructure. It is therefore inconceivable that we will maintain or increase our current rate of energy consumption once peak oil has been reached. The rate at which alternative energy supplies are brought online cannot exceed the rate at which fossil energy is depleted. A reduction in energy use is inevitable.

This is a non-partisan issue. To try to politicize this issue is morally reprehensible.


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