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Thread: Terribly confused about Portland...

  1. #1
    Member simulcra's avatar
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    Terribly confused about Portland...

    I'm so lost. Smart growth advocates herald it as a good example of how smart growth can happen and the benefits it brings about. Sprawl advocates hail it as why smart growth implementation has failed and how smart growth has failed as a principle.

    This is the same city we're talking about, right? Cox on one hand going blah blah, housing prices, blah blah, mass transit failure, blah blah, others going blah blah quality of life blah blah mass transit success.

    what? i dunno what to think, i just can't seem to find a more neutral assessment of the city (if one exists).

    help?

    (please, someone tell me what to think! )

  2. #2
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    IMO, the best way to get an unbiased evaluation of Portland is to visit there yourself.

    One of the things that struck me when I was there for a conference a few years back is how relatively small all the city blocks are (at least in comparison to cities in the U.S.'s northeast). While the size of the city looks somewhat imposing on a map, it turned out to be a joy to walk pretty much everywhere I wanted to go in short period of time.

    Go. Experience it for yourself.
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  3. #3
    Member Wulf9's avatar
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    I only visit occasionally, so this is an assessment from just a few visits. But here is my take. Portland has one of the best smart growth planning programs of any major city and has implemented it pretty well. Oregon requires development to occur within urban growth boundaries, which helps a smart growth program. It's a nice city.

    I think the "failure" assessment comes because of unanticipated events. Portland was a hub in the dotcom boom. Incomes went up. People moved in. Housing prices skyrocketed. The smart growth infrastructure could not keep up with the population growth, and the population growth took up the land which was supposed to be absorbed over a much longer time frame.

    Finally, Portland is across the river from Vancouver WA, which doesn't have a smart growth base and is sprawling in the traditional sprawl pattern. So it pumps cars into the city.

    Without the dotcom boom, I suspect Portland would have succeeded without the "failure" assessment.

  4. #4
    Member moose's avatar
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    I moved to Portland in January, and I now live just outside the city proper, but still within the Portland Metro area. I LOVE it here. Of course, I came as a planner (environmental consultant) drawn to Portland as the planning mecca it was made out to be in my college coursework. I think it has lived up to it's reputation pretty well. I am well aware that it has it's critics, but as a smarth growth advocate, and having just moved from California's Central Valley and Bay Area (where sprawl is all there is), I am very impressed with Portland and the surrounding metro area.

    Personally, I can't see how anyone could call the TriMet (mass transit system) a failure -- the trains and busses are always packed, especially in the downtown area during rush hours.

    It's great here! Of course, it's been known to rain on occassion, so come prepared if you do visit.

  5. #5
    Member Zoning Gangsta's avatar
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    I agree that the "mass transit failure" is a lot of nonsense. Mass transit works well in Portland, and they are building more of it. It recently was extended out to the airport, and is being expanded well beyond that. They are giving serious consideration to removing the freeway along the east side of the Willamette River, as was done in San Francisco with the Embarcadero Freeway, and roofing over the freeway on the west side of downtown.

    As for housing prices, it depends on where you look. Some areas went trendy during the dotcom boom, and prices there went up a lot. But they were low to begin with. There still are many bargains in Portland, especially compared to other cities on the west coast. I don't thing Portland housing prices are out of line. It may be that they were so underpriced before that some critics think they are high now. It's all relative.

  6. #6
    Cirrus's avatar
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    I've never been to Portland either (though pictures look great), and have a question.

    ... Statistically it isn't very dense. Census tracts top out at less than 25,000 people / square mile, which is less than a lot of streetcar suburbs back east (Silver Spring, MD and Alexandria, VA, for instance, peak near 50,000), and significantly lower than your more urban inner cities (Baltimore peaks at around 200,000 - eight times denser than Portland)... And there's really only one of those tracts in Portland, most of the city is below 10,000.

    Certainly there's more to smart growth than just statistical density, but what gives? Downtown looks nice, but have their smart growth initiatives really made a difference for the rest of the city, beyond rising prices? Is Portland really a smart growth success or is it window dressing for the status quo (*cough* Boulder)?

    Exhibit A: Portland - Great bastion of smart growth in the west


    Exhibit B: Arlington / Alexandria, VA - Eastern suburbs


  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Hi, I'm new

    Portland's smart-growth program has been a great success. The only failure that can really be laid at the program's door is lack of provisions (such as affordable-housing requirements for new development) to mitigate or prevent runaway gentrification, which didn't really happen on a significant scale until the dot-com boom and in all fairness to a city and state that didn't have the large proportion of lower-middle class and poor that many longer-urbanized places have wasn't expected by many.

    Most of the failures/problems are totally unrelated to smart-growth and can be blamed squarely on the tax structure and government complacency about dot-com wealth. The whinier/lazier/more selfish elements of the region's real estate/development industry just seized on these problems as an opportunity to attack smart growth, and the wider sprawl lobby (think the old highway lobby plus the suburban developers) has followed suit.

    As for Wendell Cox, once he goes beyond highway traffic statistics and talks about pretty much anything else, especially transit and land use, he's full of $h!t. If I remember right, someone on a thread here back in the spring (yeah, I've been lurking for a while ) dug into public record on Cox and the TTI and found out that he is heavily funded by several car and oil companies. So take anything he says other than traffic with huge handfuls of salt.

  8. #8
    Member green's avatar
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    Hi

    As a native Portlander (or suburbanite Portlander), I figured I'd weigh in on this . . .

    Cirrus - This is one of those cases where population density figures mislead. Los Angeles (where I'm living at the moment) actually has one of the highest population densities in the country. One of the major reasons is lack of open space. L.A. (and sprawl communities in general) might not have the best provisions for parks and open space. Portland, on the other hand, not only has an ample amount of parks and plazas scattered throughout the city, but also the nation's largest city park (Forest Park). Finally, the topography of Portland yields some places were building at high density is either unfeasable or undesirable (ie the West Hills).

    Wulf9 - Not only does the sprawl of Vancouver, WA pump cars into Portland, it also provides a constant threat to Oregon's urban growth standards. Developers who object build in Clark County. There is the same problem with businesses relocating there, undercutting Portland's tax base. Sadly, Oregonians have yet to show any common sense when it comes to interstate relations. Not only do we provide majority funding for transportation links across the Columbia River (between Oregon and Washington), no one seems to favor making these into toll bridges.

    As for the rest of the issues, in my opinion Portland's planning is (in the American context) a landmark example of a job well done. Unfortunately, its "teeth" are often dulled by Portland's inherent economic weakness (too close to Seattle, no major research university/magnet for federal $) and political impotence (what other self-respecting municipality would let the sparesly populated rest of the state divert state offices and universities away from the metropolitan area or decide whether or not the major city is allowed to have a baseball team). This is a city under a lot of outside pressure, and the planners there have done a remarkable job with what they have to work with. As for Wendell Cox, the guy's a right-wing think tank hack. His opinions, to me, hold about as much water as those of the guys at the Hoover Institute using Stanford's economic credibility and a lot of corporate research funding to proclaim the "genius" of W.'s handling of the budget. The fact that Mr. Cox is proud of his three terms on the Los Angeles County Transportation (where he helped procure the billions wasted on the Metro Rail project) speaks volumes about his "track record" on these issues.

  9. #9
    Cirrus's avatar
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    Cirrus - This is one of those cases where population density figures mislead. Los Angeles (where I'm living at the moment) actually has one of the highest population densities in the country. One of the major reasons is lack of open space. L.A. (and sprawl communities in general) might not have the best provisions for parks and open space. Portland, on the other hand, not only has an ample amount of parks and plazas scattered throughout the city, but also the nation's largest city park (Forest Park). Finally, the topography of Portland yields some places were building at high density is either unfeasable or undesirable (ie the West Hills).
    You'd have a point if I was using city-wide densities, but if you'll take a second look you'll find I'm using census tracts, which are essentially neighborhood-sized.

    Based on a lack of density, I worry that Portland is restricting vertical growth as well as horizontal growth. If you stop sprawl, you have to allow more density to offset the difference. Maybe Portland is doing that and it just hasn't manifested itself in the numbers a whole lot yet. Basically my question boils down to whether Portland is good planning or just good urban design. I don't know, having never been there.

  10. #10
    Member simulcra's avatar
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    he did mention that the west hills (i don't know where that is geographically, admittedly) doesn't permit high-density growth, and maybe that huge swath of light pink is such.

  11. #11
    Member green's avatar
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    In regards to the maps, topography and land use are key considerations. Admittedly, I'm not too familiar with the lay of the land in Northern Virginia, but Solipsa is right . . . almost all of the land in this map west of downtown (where the density drastically falls off) is covered by rugged hills. Another factor to consider is that a large portion of Portland's land is still used by industrial and shipping activities.

    A few other things to consider:

    - The patterns by which land use is mixed also yield lower population densities. "Mixed-use" developments inherently sacrafices population capacity in favor of commerical development.

    - Even in a purely residential district, a small neighborhood park diminishes population density. Portland has many of them.

    - The vast majority of the land in the map shown was originally developed between 1900-1950, when cities on the West Coast of America followed a sprawling pattern of land use (and urban planning was in its infancy).

  12. #12
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    My neighborhood: is one of the least dense census tracts in Chicago.

    The fact that at least half of the tract's area is consumed by a park and a cemetery (not pictured) may have something to do with it

  13. #13
    Cirrus's avatar
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    All right, we're still not getting it. There are parks and mixed use in Virginia, too. If I pulled out one single census tract and asked about it, things like that might make a big difference, but by looking at several tracts a pattern emerges, and there's a very clear pattern on the Portland map showing relatively low densities across the entire city.

    To clarify where I'm coming from, consider Boulder, CO. It's considered to be very progressive in land use. They have a UGB (through a city-owned greenbelt rather than political measure, but the end is the same if not the means) and are very good at urban design (you'll be hard pressed to find a more pleasant, walkable collection of bungalow neighborhoods anywhere)... but their practices turn out to be quite exclusionary and counter productive. Restrictive FAR limits remain, and most of the city is covered by a 35 foot height limit, which is only raised to 55 downtown (and even then, only part of downtown). In an effort to keep growth low they instituted a plan whereby the city will only grant enough building permits to maintain a certain percentage growth rate each year - a number far lower than is demanded for by the market.
    ... As a result of all that, sprawl in Boulder County has increased significantly, as everyone is forced to live in far-flung suburbs outside the greenbelt. The Boulder suburb of Superior, CO was, from 1990 to 2000, the fastest growing municipality in the country. Boulder lost out on the commercial end as well. Broomfield, another suburb, built a flashy new mall that degraded Boulders sales tax revenue significantly, and opened up a big office park that actually allows for reasonably sized buildings, which has, in the course of about 5 years, almost surpassed Boulder itself.

    Here's the thing, by Colorado standards Boulder is actually pretty dense. It's nothing compared to even relatively far-flung suburbs in the east, but that doesn't matter to them (Colorado is quite the isolationist state - "we do things our way"). Boulders problem is they're so busy congratulating themselves for being a little dense, for not being sprawl, they've lost sight of why that's important, and lost control of the situation, making it worse.

    To throw out another Colorado example, the TOD at the Englewood light rail station in suburban Denver. It's all over the news here as being a great step forward and supposedly a national model for transit planning... Really it's a glorified strip mall, complete with a Wal Mart (with, naturally, a huge ocean of parking). I showed some Colorado planners pictures of TOD around the Washington Metro, comparing it with Englewood, and they couldn't believe the difference. The jaws of well known, well respected planners hit the floor over the difference between what's "ground breaking" in Colorado and what's every day life in the east.

    So, to make the question very clear, does Portland zoning / culture allow for, and indeed encourage adequate densities needed to make an impact on sprawl, or do they make a lot of noise, combined with clever, attractive site design, and wow people from the sunbelt who have never seen sidewalks before?

    Or, in other words, is Portland a bigger version of Boulder?

    ... And again, just so we're totally clear, this is not an attack on Portland. I do not know the answer to my question... but looking at maps and statistics, and having lived in and been hugely disappointed by Boulder, I have to wonder if Portland is as fantastic as I always hear it is.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian plankton's avatar
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    Modest SFD's in desirable Portland neighborhoods are still available under 200k. It clearly is not a perfect city (what is?) but for a midwestern transplant (Detroit/Hamtramck) like myself, it is truly a wonderful city to be a part of. I cannot think of one particular city block in Portland that has been forsaken due to the quest for greener pastures in the nearby farmland/suburbia. IMHO, arguments contending that Portland's UGB has artificially driven up housing prices are self-serving half-truths to say the least.

    East coast cities have a lot to be proud of. I've never been to Alexandria but Boston, NYC, DC, etc. have always left favorable impressions on me as being vibrant, well planned, well preserved cities. I'm just glad I don't have to try to afford purchasing a home in any of those cities on a planner's salary.

    IMHO, the sooner Max reaches Vancouver, WA the better. Just say NO! to 12-lane vehicular bridges across the Columbia.

  15. #15
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
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    Originally posted by plankton
    IMHO, the sooner Max reaches Vancouver, WA the better. Just say NO! to 12-lane vehicular bridges across the Columbia.
    How about a 12 lane I-405 that runs UNDER the columbia from Mill Plain in 'Couver to downtown... and charge a big fat toll!

    Oh wait, didn't Boston try that?
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  16. #16
    Cyburbian plankton's avatar
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    Just say no to Big Digs!

  17. #17
    Member green's avatar
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    I'll similarly try to make my point clear:

    You are comparing apples and oranges.

    Portland, Boulder, and Northern Virginia cannot begin to function as a comparison group.

    To briefly add to my previous comments on why the Portland-Northern Virginia analogy doesn't work . . .

    You are looking at census tracts, which deal with population figures. A bedroom suburb might have a higher population density than a primarily industrial area where everyone lives in apartment towers. Consider City of Industry, CA, population 500. In the daytime, the workforce numbers around 50,000. The bulk of the area is zoned for heavy industry. Its population density is quite low, however. Hopefully this will end the confusion about census maps as an indicator of the form of the built environment. That simply isn't what they measure.

    The regional concept is key to the comparison as well. With Northern Virginia, you are looking at one of the predominantly residential segments of the Greater Washington area. In the upper right hand corner of the map, one can see that the District has quite a few very low density census tracts. This is because as the city center of the Washington region, its land use is skewed toward public, institutional, and commerical uses. The segment of the Portland area you have shown is the city center of Portland.

    A key ingridient for Portland's success as a "walking" city is the scale at which its uses are separated. If you don't have a car, you have to walk to the store. You cannot drive to the neighboring census tract with the megamall. Therefore I would speculate that the non-residential features in Portland are much more evenly distributed amongst the census tracts.

    As for Boulder . . .

    There are a number of factors unique to Boulder amongst this group. First of all, it is very clearly within Denver's sphere of influence, due to proximity. Though perhaps not a "true" suburb, it can in effect function as one, being part of the Denver market. This allows it to be "exclusive" in the ways the suburbs can and center cities can't. My guess is no matter how many urban growth restrictions Denver laid down, because of the cultural and economic functions it must provide as city center, it would never look like Boulder. The same is true of Portland.

    Secondly the urban growth boundary in Portland is a completely different mechanism. Its application is mandated by state law. There can be no outside-the-greenbelt suburbs in Oregon, because the land use planning is a statewide legal construct rather than a physical barrier. The only place for a Superior or Broomfield to take advantage of being outside the planned realm would be in Clark County, WA, and I have earlier discussed the conundrum that poses.

    About the percieved TOD quality gap between the Wild West and the urbane East Coast - TOD's are examples of urban design, so perhaps it is Washington that benefits from the flashy UD.

    Another inherently anti-sprawl measure in Oregon that often goes overlooked is the lack of any sales tax. Big-box retailers in the suburbs may take some tax revenues away from Portland, but they don't pay suburbs the sales tax windfall that drives them to bend over backwards to get one within their city limits.

    And to answer your italicized question:

    Given its context within the American culture and legal system, Portland's urban planning iniatives are nothing short of remarkable. A large part of this is a result of its government institutions - the UGB is a state law and Portland's regional government (the only one of its kind in the nation, though Minneapolis-St. Paul's comes close) is chartered by the state. It is far from perfect, and put under great stress by the fact that despite its economic shortcomings, the Portland area's population growth has not slowed (unlike Boulder, Portland does not have any measures directly designed to limit population growth). Portland, Boulder, Northern Virginia. Apples, oranges, and pears.

    A visit to the Pacific Northwest is highly recommended, as it would clear up any misconceptions about it being part of the "Sun Belt."

    And in reference to the East Coast bias, National Geographic, published in Washington, DC, found Oregon's Orenco Station TOD worthy of celebration in its magazine.

  18. #18

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    Originally posted by Cirrus
    All right, we're still not getting it.

    So, to make the question very clear, does Portland zoning / culture allow for, and indeed encourage adequate densities needed to make an impact on sprawl, or do they make a lot of noise, combined with clever, attractive site design, and wow people from the sunbelt who have never seen sidewalks before?

    Or, in other words, is Portland a bigger version of Boulder?
    Someone else mentioned that your Portland/Northern VA comparison was apples to oranges, and I tend to agree a little.
    I've never been to Portland, but I'm guessing that if you want to see the impact of Portland's policies on sprawl, you have to compare metro areas, not just the major cities.

    I recall seeing (but can't cite now) some planning research that suggested that many metro areas in the West have higher overall densities compared to those in the East, South and Midwest. This was because Western metro areas have a moderately high density figure that is fairly consistent throughout the area, and Eastern and Midwestern metro areas have densities that are very high in inner city areas and drop drastically further out from the metro area center. This research was used to show that LA's MSA has a higher overall density than NY's MSA.

    My point is, Portland may not have super-dense areas like Eastern cities, but I'm guessing they don't have 2-acre-minimum residential areas in the 'burbs, either. And that is ultimately the Metro's impact on the area.

  19. #19
    Cirrus's avatar
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    I showed the area with the highest population density in the Portland region (look it up if you disagree) and a medium-high area of Washington that's also home to more jobs than people. The low density tracts you mention in DC are the monumental core and have no residential at all, but again, we're looking at regional trends here, and the trend in Portland is very clearly for a significantly lower density than it is in Washington.

    Re: TOD and urban design, I'm sorry, but there are huge differences between a more or less conventional suburban strip mall that happens to have parking in the rear (Englewood) and a dense, mixed, highly urban neighborhood that actually functions around transit (say, Silver Spring). If you think the only difference is flashy urban design, I'd invite you to visit and see the difference first hand.

    ... Actually that's another question, have you ever lived on the east coast? I'm getting a lot of the same answers from you regarding Portland that I get from native Coloradoans - "this is the west, we do things different here". No doubt. I just get annoyed when something in the west that's old news in the east gets passed off as ground breaking and called a model for the rest of the country to follow.

    Re: the sunbelt, I didn't mean to imply Portland was part of it. What I meant to imply was Portland gets so much attention because it does things sunbelt people haven't seen before, and has a good marketing team.

    Another inherently anti-sprawl measure in Oregon that often goes overlooked is the lack of any sales tax.
    That's interesting. Didn't know that.

    I would speculate that the non-residential features in Portland are much more evenly distributed amongst the census tracts.
    That may be the answer I'm looking for. How do we find out?

    the UGB is a state law and Portland's regional government is chartered by the state.
    ... That can, of course, be bypassed by going up to Washington state. The question I'm trying to ask, and am having no luck getting across, is how often that happens? Are Portland growth laws inclusive enough to handle the demand, or do they artificially force people to Clark County? I'm not talking about the hold-out who insists upon living on a 10 acre ranchette (though I hear that's a problem outside the UGB), I'm talking about the family that would be perfectly happy living in a bungalow in Portland - can they afford it, or does anyone who wants a house for less than $500,000 have to go north to Washington?
    Last edited by Cirrus; 18 Sep 2003 at 1:50 PM.

  20. #20
    Cirrus's avatar
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    I recall seeing (but can't cite now) some planning research that suggested that many metro areas in the West have higher overall densities compared to those in the East, South and Midwest. This was because Western metro areas have a moderately high density figure that is fairly consistent throughout the area, and Eastern and Midwestern metro areas have densities that are very high in inner city areas and drop drastically further out from the metro area center. This research was used to show that LA's MSA has a higher overall density than NY's MSA.
    You're right, they do. But it comes down to water and suburban lots. Because there isn't a whole lot of water to go around, your basic sprawl neighborhood in the west has houses that are a lot closer together than your basic sprawl neighborhood of the east. So, the purely residential exurbs of the west are denser than their eastern counterparts, but not inherently different except for side yard size.

    OTOH, the urban neighborhoods of the east and the urban neighborhoods of most of the west (there are certainly exceptions) are quite a bit different. Because the sprawl is closer together, Denver ranks as about the 5th densest urbanized area, but no one in their right mind would argue "urban Denver" is anywhere near as dense as "urban Philadelphia". What passes as inner city Denver is functionally the equivalent of a fairly distant streetcar suburb in any given eastern city.

    ... What that says to me is that new suburbs eat up less land in the west, but are otherwise no different, and more of the city is suburban.

    ... The lack of particularly dense tracts in Portland reinforces this idea. Is it actually revolutionary land use, or is the sprawl just closer together? (Which would certainly be an improvement, but hardly worth the press).

    I suppose it all depends on your point of view which is more important. I'm quite the little urbanist - I want no part whatsoever with the suburbs, so I'm infinitely more impressed with a good core than with less harmfully spaced McMansions. Other people may have different values.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Originally posted by Cirrus
    Are Portland growth laws inclusive enough to handle the demand, or do they artificially force people to Clark County? I'm not talking about the hold-out who insists upon living on a 10 acre ranchette (though I hear that's a problem outside the greenbelt), I'm talking about the family that would be perfectly happy living in a bungalow in Portland - can they afford it, or does anyone who wants a house for less than $500,000 have to go north to Washington?
    Like for most such questions there is no simple answer. I think most of the reason people pick Vancouver over Portland (i.e. Clark County over Portland Metro) has to do with tax burdens, not with land use as such. Oregon has no sales tax but has relatively high income tax. It is easy to live in Washington and shop in Portland and get the best of both tax worlds (Washington lets Oregonians shop without paying the sales tax I am told, but that does not matter in the present context). Washington has much higher vehicle regitration and licensing fees, however, so some people try to register their cars in Oregon, too, while living in Washington. Whan a neighbor rats them out the penalty is quite high as I understand it.

    What I notice when I visit friends in Vancouver and Clark County is that all the badges of sprawl are there, including terrible road congestion, big sign proliferation, and general ugliness (sorry Vancouverniks), and this generally is lacking in Portland. People who think traffic is congested in Portland have never been on 66 in Virginia, by the way. Or to Seattle, for that matter. Portland traffic is a breeze, IMHO, except sometimes on I-205. Hmmm... that highway goes right to Vancouver...

  22. #22
    Member japrovo's avatar
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    I come late to this thread so I reluctantly just want to add a couple of things...

    I think the big story re: Clark County in the next few years will be with respect to Industrial land. On the Oregon side Metro is working on something that may end up looking like industrial sanctuaries on a regional scale, but in the near term more and bigger industrial parcels over there will complicate some of the easy assumptions folks make when trying to put Portland in a box. We also tend to overlook that there is a growth management act in place in Washington. Of course starting almost two decades after Oregon we are still in the lag time before assessing its impacts makes a lot of sense.


    Recommended reading list for following up on this discussion:

    Impact of UGBs/smart growth policy:

    Nelson, Arthur and Rolf Pendall, Casey Dawkins and Gerritt Knapp (2002). The Link Between Growth Management and Affordability: The Academic Evidence. Washington: Brookings. (available on-line at www.brookings.edu)

    Downs, Anthony (2002). Have Housing Prices Risen Faster in Portland than Elsewhere? Housing Policy Debate. 13:1,7(26).
    Fischel, William (2002). Comment on Anthony Downs: “Have Housing Prices Risen Faster in Portland than Elsewhere?” Housing Policy Debate. 13:1,43(8).
    (Both available on-line at www.knowledgeplex.org)

    Defining/operationalizing density/sprawl
    Lang, Robert (2002). Open Spaces Bounded Places: Does the American West's Arid Landscape Yield Dense Metropolitan Growth? Housing Policy Debate, 13:4, 755 (24).
    Galester G., Hanson R., et al (2001). Wrestling sprawl to the ground: defining and measuring an elusive concept. Housing Policy Debate, 12:4,681(37).
    (Both available on-line at www.knowledgeplex.org)

  23. #23
    Cyburbian plankton's avatar
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    Originally posted by Richard:

    What I notice when I visit friends in Vancouver and Clark County is that all the badges of sprawl are there, including terrible road congestion, big sign proliferation, and general ugliness (sorry Vancouverniks), and this generally is lacking in Portland. People who think traffic is congested in Portland have never been on 66 in Virginia, by the way. Or to Seattle, for that matter. Portland traffic is a breeze, IMHO, except sometimes on I-205. Hmmm... that highway goes right to Vancouver...

    Maybe because we're in the business of noticing these things, or maybe not, but I agree with you 100% my good colleague down the coast. I avoid Vancouver like the plague. SR 500, 502, 504, 506, 508, 511, 513, 515, 517, on and on and on......and all the associated traffic signals and traffic congestion are unsavory to say the least. Could you imagine how Hwy 26, 30, 22, and 18 would fare without Metro and 30+ year old UGB's in the area. Would not be a pretty sight, I'm sure.

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