The Metro Council reviews the land supply within the urban growth boundary every six years. The results are published in the Urban Growth Report. Metro prepares a 20-year forecast of population and employment growth for greater Portland and, if necessary, adjusts the boundary to meet the needs foreseen for that period. The Portland area urban growth boundary has been expanded many times since it was first drawn. In 2014, a system for designating urban and rural reserves was put in place, further honing criteria for bringing land into the boundary.
The most recent Urban Growth Report was published in 2018. Although another assessment is not due for several years, Metro has the authority perform mid-cycle amendments to the urban growth boundary. The City of Tigard has proposed a well-planned expansion that includes middle housing under Metro’s mid-cycle review process. Metro’s chief operating officer recommends that council approve Tigard’s proposed expansion through a growth boundary land exchange instead of the mid-cycle addition.
The exchange process is different than a mid-cycle review as it would add the area Tigard seeks to develop, while also removing a comparable amount of land elsewhere in the region. This approach aligns with Metro’s focus on city readiness in its growth management decisions. It recognizes that Tigard is ready for growth, while some other areas that were added to the boundary in the past have not resulted in housing and may not for decades to come.
Ultimately, adding land to the urban growth boundary can only help us address our housing shortage if it develops in a thoughtful, predictable way. Tigard has demonstrated that it is ready to develop River Terrace 2.0, the area they seek to bring into the boundary, with a mix of middle housing types that makes efficient use of land.
A series of Metro Council work sessions are planned going forward to discuss this matter. In April 2022 the council is scheduled to meet to discuss the COO’s recommendation. The council expects to meet again in May to discuss development readiness criteria that will help determine what land should be removed from the urban growth boundary as part of the exchange. Metro Council plans to discuss staff analyses and recommendations in early fall, leading to a decision on the exchange by the end of the year.