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Reason Foundation

Urban-Growth Boundaries and Housing Affordability

Lessons from Portland

Samuel Staley
October 1, 1999

Executive Summary

Urban-growth boundaries are emerging as one of the most popular growth-management tools in the fight against suburbanization. More than 100 cities and counties have adopted them, and statewide mandates for growth boundaries exist in Oregon, Washington, and Tennessee.

Urban-growth boundaries, however, have potentially large, if unintended, negative impacts on housing. The burden of these impacts will most likely be felt by low-, moderate-, and middle-income households since their housing choices will be the most severely constrained.

Similar impacts were found in Portland, Oregon where a regional-growth boundary hems in 24 cities and three counties. A review of research and housing data found:

Several lessons were gleaned from Napa County and Portland’s experience with growth boundaries:


Samuel Staley is Research Fellow

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