Portland as “the” example?

But for what? Portland is often used as “the” example for how to manage growth effectively and efficiently. I usually read this blog and post it in my little sideblog, but this warrants further comment. The following link is well-researched, cited and presented. I look forward to Part 2.

Land use regulations affect housing affordability, sprawl, congestion, etc. Pretty much everything. How does Portland fit in?

Did the Portland experiment work?

After more than twenty-five years in operation, the results of the Oregon experiment are controversial and puzzling.  Growth control in Portland, like the text of the Bible, seems to provide almost anyone studying it evidence to bolster a pre-existing viewpoint.

Hmmm. How do we apply what they have learned in Portland to how we want the Central Virginia area to grow? Is New Urbanism “the” answer? “An” answer? Where does the vaunted Neighborhood Model fit into the grand scheme?

This Google search yielded some interesting results … more to read. And this (PDF) case study in particular.

The “missing link” in all of this is the myopic focus on the City of Charlottesville. What seems to be neglected is an understanding of how all localities interact and connect.  How does X development impact the surrounding area? How does X fit into the comp plan? So long as piece-meal development persists, the differences between NoVa and C’Ville area will becomes less and less.

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  1. Ray Hyde February 24, 2006 at 00:28

    You really opened up a rats nest with this one. I hope you get some good comments.

    I’ve been following the Portland thing closely. Urban growth boundaries have protected a lot of farmland, but the apple business and other rural enterprises have had problems, logging in particular.

    Portland is one of the least affordable cities, and if you can afford to buy, you don’t get much. Consequently, urban dwellers like to escape to the countryside. They can only go to visit, not stay, because of growth restrictions aqnd incrementally ever increasing ancillary rules. Travelling to the countryside generates a lot of VMT’s.

    Portland has a fabulous transit system, and every bus has bike racks. Also a lot of empty seats, and the city still has traffic congestion. And a lot of panhandlers.

    The rural growth limits are mostly supported by urban dwellers. Just as in Virginia, the liberals tend to live in town.

    After thirty years of having their lives controlled through bureaucratic central planning, the people rebelled through a referendum. Despite being opposed by a well funded coalition campaign of special interests and condservtionist, with a lot of money coming from out of state, the referendum passed overwhelmingly, only to be thrown out by the court.

    Four years later, the same thing happened again. This time the conservationists outspent the opponents 5 to one and proclaimed that the opponents were big logging interests. The big logging interest was a family operation, but it was big by some standards. The conservationists lost overwhelmingly again, and again the conservationists won in court, but then lost in the Supreme Court.

    Do we really want to go through thirty yeas of central planning just to find out it doesn’t work? Is sprawl the only alternative? I don’t think so, but there are a lot of rabid conservationists who can’t accept any compromise. I think they may lose all as a result.

  2. Ray Hyde February 24, 2006 at 00:53

    That pdf case study has a lot of problems.

    “Creating livable communities by preserving open space and more compact development will bring back the sense of community and
    have stores and libraries within walking distance.”

    We would need a lot of new stores and libraries to put them in walking distance, and the stores wouldn’t have a large enough base to provide varietywe are accustomed to. Elsewhere the report calls for parks evey 1/4 or 1/8 mile. Who is going to maintain all those parks, and waht is the point of jamming 12 units per acre just so you can have parks. What is so wrong with individual parks? I think in England they call them gardens, but here we call them yards.

    Surprisingly, she does come to a vlaid conclusion at the end. If we want open space we shoulf raise taxes and buy it.