Op-Ed: Housing Solution Lies Within Urban Growth Boundary

Undoing Oregon’s urban growth boundaries won’t solve the state’s housing crisis, an opinion piece argues. Smart growth lies within existing cities.

1 minute read

December 5, 2022, 10:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Portland and other Oregon cities have established urban growth boundaries that prevent development outside a designated area. | Sung Choi / Shutterstock

An opinion piece by Sam Diaz, Kim McCarty and Steve Messinetti in The Oregonian argues against removing the state’s urban growth boundaries, which restrict development within a certain geographic area around each city.

The piece is written in response to a November 12 column by Steve Duin that proposed eliminating the urban growth boundary as a way to relieve the state’s housing affordability and supply crisis. According to the authors, Duin’s suggestion “will not result in housing options near existing schools, parks, jobs, stores and services that most Oregonians can afford.”

As the authors explain, “The urban growth boundary is an innovative policy for designating land for development that continues to achieve its goals of preventing climate-harming and congestion-inducing sprawl while protecting land that grows our food and offers us moments in nature.” The article points out that cities without urban growth boundaries aren’t faring any better when it comes to the housing crisis, and that ignoring growth boundaries would promote sprawl.

The real solution, the authors write, is more complex. “We need a comprehensive approach that includes stabilizing renters at risk of eviction, land use policies that encourage density near jobs and transportation, funding to close racial disparities in home ownership, fast-track permitting and fee waivers to encourage affordable housing, and increasing availability of underutilized land within urban growth boundaries.”

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