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Senate Bill 1011: The law behind urban and rural reserves

Planning and conservation    Regional planning and policy    urban growth management    Urban and rural reserves    Reserves overview    Senate Bill 1011

Learn about the state law that established the process for designating urban and rural reserves.

In 2007, the Oregon Legislature passed a law, Senate Bill 1011, that provides a new strategic, thoughtful and collaborative approach to accommodating future urban development. It is part of a broad regional strategy for considering when and how we expand our urban footprint, enhance our current communities and protect our natural resources.

This law allows our region to consider where to urbanize based on a broad set of factors for suitability of lands for urban development rather the previous approach of choosing lands based primarily on the quality of agricultural soils.

The bill also provides a means for protecting farms, forests and natural landscape features from encroachment of urbanization for the next 40-50 years. Without rural reserves, there is no other legal mechanism for protecting these lands from development over the long term.

How is the designation process coordinated?

Because it is important that urban and rural reserves be addressed concurrently, Senate Bill 1011 created a process for designating them simultaneously through agreements between Metro and counties. This agreement-based process allows representatives of a very diverse group of interests including developers, farmers, foresters, social and environmental advocates and local governments to come together to make recommendations to Metro and the three counties as they designate urban and rural reserves.

Senate Bill 1011 also stipulates that the counties and Metro must coordinate their reserves designation process with the region’s cities, special districts, school districts and state agencies. The three counties and Metro must also engage the public in a coordinated process reviewed by the State of Oregon.

How was this law created?

Before determining the right approach to long term land use and protection, Metro joined Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties, the Department of Land Conservation and Development, and the Department of Agriculture in conducting a three-part study of the lands surrounding the current Portland metropolitan area urban growth boundary. They asked three questions:

  • What are the factors that affect the ability of an area to successfully conduct commercial agricultural operations over an extended period of time and which lands surrounding the current urban growth boundary meet these criteria?
  • Which natural landscape features surrounding the current urban growth boundary are most important in terms of ecological function or most influence our sense of place and should define our urban form?
  • What are the attributes of great communities and the most important considerations for effective urbanization?

The results of these studies formed the basis for the legislation. Senate Bill 1011 is an attempt to align the law with the region’s goals both for creating great communities and for protecting areas that should not be urbanized.

Learn more about the Shape of the Region study

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