(August 23, 2015) – Traditional "Large Lot Zoning" is "Greener" than "Smart Growth" within Urban Growth Boundaries . . . Copyright 2009 – 2015 . . . Tom Lane . . . Photographing California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington.
Above: Eugene, looking south from Skinner Butte. Eugene’s haze, due to crowded smart growth conditions and air pollution, accumulating from traffic and local industry. Due to growth restrictions and declining local industry, Eugene and Lane County grew only 7% from 2000 to 2009.
(Nov. 18, 2010) Over the past two decades, Oregon Willamette Valley planners in the DLCD and TGM have acheived their goal of “slow growth” within urban growth boundaries and with smart growth principles. Today, Portland State University released its preliminary population studies for 2008-2009 (Nov. 15, 2010).
Despite high unemployment, Bend (Deschusets County), was one of the fastest growing counties in the state in the past year, at +0.8% from 2009-2010 (reaching 172,000). While Portland’s county (Multnomah) also grew at 0.8%, many counties only grew a couple of tenths of a percent, and 10 of the state’s 37 counties actually lost population. For specific counties, see the Excel spreadsheet at the link above.
This is not surprising, considering the high tax business environment, anti-timber, anti-housing, anti-natural gas, and pro-smart growth and slow growth policies (i.e. urban growth boundaries), from various State officials, including DLCD’s Director Richard Whitman, LCDC commissioners John VanLandingham and Bruce McPherson, along with DSL Director Louise Solliday (specific information on their recent land use and natural resource decisions in earlier posts below, i.e. failing to approve Bend’s urban growth boundary expansion, and liquified natural gas facilities).
While +0.8% from 2009-2010 may not like very much, consider that Bend has grown by 48% since 2000, the fastest growing county in the state. Whereas Portland (Multnomah Co.) has only grown by just only 9.7% in the past decade:
Clearly, Oregon’s heavily centralized decisions making behind closed doors in a far left environment, and consequential anti-business policies, high taxes, high impact fees, and urban growth boundaries, have achieved their desired effect – “slow growth.” It’s come with much unnecessary pain and suffering, with resulting foreclosures, unemployment, and expensive relocation to pro-business Washington State and others.
Whenever a college/retirement/tourist town such as Bend exceeds the growth of the state’s major center for trade and manufacturing (Portland), then clearly something is stalling growth.
Remember, urban economists refer to three metrics for urban economic health, as reviewed by Ed Glaeser and Joshua Gottleib of Harvard, “Urban Resurgence and the Consumer City.” These metrics are population growth, income growth, and rising productivity.
In respect to growth controls, the urban economist asks whether or not economic health is adversely impacted by excessive growth controls such as urban growth boundaries. And, the sociologist asks whether or not social programs and schools will be maintained in the face of declining tax revenues, as a function of 1) diminished population growth, and 2) high unemployment. This graph shows the slowing of Oregon’s growth rate in the past decade:
I do not know. Hopefully, a member of the DLCD, TGM, ODOT, DEQ, or DSL will talk to the media and explain their agenda. I used to send these blog posts to senior members of all four of these agencies, and not one member has ever written in the comment boxes, explaining why they stall Oregon growth and natural resource use. It appears that Oregonians are content with a centrally planned economy, as they just elected far left Democrat John Kitzhaber in Nov. 2010. However, it was a very close election, with centrist Republican Chris Dudley losing by only a few thousand votes.
Although, the Oregon officials might tell me that I said that the Seattle metro is overpopulated in the previous post. Yes, it is, but I also said that Seattle should ideally diffuse over a larger area of Western and even eastern Washington, to eliminate externalities associated with growth (i.e. traffic, pollution, and crime).
And, I advocate for more tellecommuting and land trusts with cabins on Weyerhauser timberland, for truly affordable, green, and sustainable housing. That’s the environmentalist’s agenda to growth, compared to architecturally dull smart growth towers along light rail lines. Therefore, I do not consider the high density smart growth advocated by Kitzhaber, Whitman, and McPherson as very green.
Even though I’m conservative on economics, I share more in common with the aesthetic idealistic tree huggers. We both dislike sprwal and smart growth, and desire decentralization of population away from urban centers of millions of people. Bend, Oregon provides an ideal example for decentralization, with nature preserved around the City.
And, that’s why Bend has grown by 48% since 1990. Because we’re all tree huggers; it’s just that some of us hunt, some of us hike; others run and others mountain bike. Everybody loves small towns in the mountains such as Bend.
However, Bend crashed since DLCD imposed urban growth boundaries limit the supply of buildable land, raising its price, driving up the cost of existing housing as the entire market reached its peak, before collapsing.
Today, this is what you see in Bend – FREE RENT –
Due to Oregon’s 12% unemployment (up to 16% in some counties), Oregon should cancel its growth management act and restrictions on timber and natural gas. All cities should be allowed to grow (or not grow) however they please. If Ashland’s rich folks don’t want Ashland to grow, and they all tellecommute from home, and elect anti-growth members of the City Council, I’ll even support that.
However, if Bend citizens and their City Council want to expand their UGB, and DLCD stops them, then perhaps those DLCD officials are not acting in the public interest, since they do not respect the people and City officials in Bend. Remember, we live in a representative Democracy, so the people of Bend have chosen pro-growth City Council members, who then appointed pro-growth planners and a City manager. The DLCD and Oregon Growth Management Act should only control public lands, and not have any influence on the decisions of incorporated cities.
Reference map of Oregon cities and counties:
DLCD Statewide Zoning Map –
This appears on the state’s web site, and it hasn’t changed since 1986.