Urban-Growth Boundaries and Housing Affordability: Lessons from Portland

Urban-Growth Boundaries and Housing Affordability: Lessons from Portland

Urban-growth boundaries are emerging as one of the most popular growth-management tools in the fight against suburbanization. More than 100 cities and counties have adopted them, and statewide mandates for growth boundaries exist in Oregon, Washington, and Tennessee.
Urban-growth boundaries, however, have potentially large, if unintended, negative impacts on housing. The burden of these impacts will most likely be felt by low-, moderate-, and middle-income households since their housing choices will be the most severely constrained. Housing production fell by 74.2 percent when strict growth controls in Napa County, California were implemented, creating an effective countywide urbangrowth boundary; and housing prices soared in rural parts of the county as demand outstripped supply, increasing the price “premium” for rural housing from 16.3 percent in 1985 to 84.8 percent over the county average in 1997. Similar impacts were found in Portland, Oregon where a regional-growth boundary hems in 24 cities and three counties.

Samuel Staley

Reason Foundation

October 1999

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By |2018-01-01T00:00:00-08:00January 1st, 2018|Affordability, Efficiency/Growth, Land Use Regulation, Reference, Reforms|