Portland, Ore. —Business and labor organizations joined together in their concern for the Portland metropolitan region’s ability to house and employ current and future residents. The organizations filed comments with the State Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC), challenging the amount of the regional land supply allocated to meet housing and employment demand for the next 50 years.
“We are deeply concerned about the near and long-term future of our region,” said Drake Butsch, Chair of the Coalition of a Prosperous Region (CPR). “Metro’s plan threatens our economic future, they fail to account for where we and our children will work and how we will be able to locate traded sector employers.”
The planning process, known as Urban and Rural Reserves, creates a 50-year supply of urbanizable land. The resulting plan submitted to LCDC by Metro and Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties forecast a regional population that will more than double, but the land supply provided by the process to accommodate this growth will only increase by 10 percent. This means that the majority of new housing and jobs will be forced into higher densities due to the limited land supply.
“During the next 50 years, the community is projected to nearly double in population and employment need, yet we are not adding enough land to accommodate that increase,” said Butsch. “Given Metro’s projections and the resulting designations of where we are going to put new housing and create jobs is an educated guess at best with no allowances for being wrong. And given the region’s unemployment numbers and declining level of economic prosperity compared to other regions, we cannot afford to get the land supply equation wrong.”
CPR submitted evidence to LCDC stating that the amount and location of land designated rural, leaves little or no room for adjusting the urban designations for up to 50 years into the future, particularly in Washington County. CPR advises that the Urban and Rural Reserves plan should provide more flexibility for future decision makers by including more “undesignated” land – land that is neither designated for development nor protected for rural. “This way, we are able to meet the varying and unanticipated demands of the future. No one could imagine 50 years ago an Intel or a Nike would be major economic drivers of our region. How can we know today what type of land we will need for the next 50 years of job and housing growth?”
“Protecting our communities livability and creating employment opportunities go hand-in-hand and you can’t have either without an adequate supply of land,” Butsch stressed. “The labor unions know this, the business community knows this, as do housing providers. We’re working to make sure our regional leaders know this as they plan for the future we all will share.”
About the Coalition for a Prosperous Region:
The Coalition for a Prosperous Region (CPR) is a consortium of business and labor organizations that includes the Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council, the Oregon Chapter of NAIOP, Commercial Real Estate Economic Coalition, Home Builders Association of Metro Portland, Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors®, Portland Business Alliance, and Westside Economic Alliance. The CPR supports regional growth that balances urban development and natural resource protection while promoting a vibrant regional economy.