Metro has improved its web-based urban growth boundary lookup tool to help residents understand how the urban growth boundary relates to their homes and businesses. Enter an address, and the web interface will determine whether a specific property is inside the urban growth boundary or a part of an urban or rural reserve. The tool also provides a map that displays the location of the address in relation to the boundary and to reserves areas.
Under the Oregon land use system, Metro maintains the urban growth boundary surrounding the Portland metropolitan area. This line encircling the region separates urban communities from rural areas, protecting farms and forestland from urban expansion. Every five years, Metro calculates how much acreage is needed to maintain a 20-year supply of land to accommodate projected urban housing and jobs and expands the boundary when necessary to respond to that need.
The last urban growth boundary expansion occurred in 2002. The Oregon legislature granted an extension of the typical five-year analysis timeframe in order for Metro and the counties to identify urban and rural reserves. Having reserves in place helps streamline the process for determining where the urban growth boundary will expand when the need arises, because consideration will focus on lands within the urban reserves.
On June 10, the Metro Council designated 28,165 acres of urban reserves – land that, if needed, will serve as the site of future neighborhoods and jobs for the next half century. Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties designated rural reserves – lands off limits to urban development that will remain farms, forests and natural areas.
The urban and rural reserves designations do not change current zoning or restrict landowners' currently allowed use of their lands. However, the reserves provide greater clarity regarding the long term expected use of the land and allow both public and private landowners to make investments with greater assurance.
This fall the Metro Council will analyze and take action on whether and/or how much the urban growth boundary would need to expand in 2011. Thereafter, the process will return to a five-year cycle. A report from Metro chief operating officer Michael Jordan, to be released this summer, will include proposed study areas for possible expansion for residential or industrial uses.