Oregon Has Managed Sprawl Well. Now For Affordable Housing.

I didn’t know it at the time, but one of the reasons I fell in love with Portland, OR and moved here in 2009 is its development boundary. Unlike some cities in the west (Hey Hey, L.A….), all of Oregon’s metropolitan areas have this anti-sprawl measure. It works.

One problem to manage is housing prices. If developers don’t feel like it’s worthwhile to build or upgrade a property, they don’t. So although we don’t have the same type of sprawl as some cities, we do have the same type of housing shortage and the high prices they do. There are other factors like institutional investor involvement in the housing market, but it’s not quite as bad as places like Vancouver, B.C., which has struggled to cope as foreign investors have snapped up real estate that often sit unoccupied for most of the year.

Oregon is looking at ways to bring its housing costs under control. One idea getting traction is the idea of allowing single-family plots to be subdivided and built (vertically, too). Initial signs are promising. Minneapolis is taking this approach as well.

I prefer proactive solutions over reactive ones. They’re usually far cheaper and yield better results. I’m hoping that will be the case here.