Appreciating Portland's Urban Growth Boundary
It occurred me recently how fortunate we all are to live in a city where we have an imaginary line (Urban Growth Boundary) drawn around us, pushing us to utilize what we have to the best of our abilities. I know that historically the dream for prior generations was to get a good job, work hard and raise your 2.5 kids and dog in your very own slice of suburbia. For many, that remains the ultimate goal, and I can absolutely appreciate that desire. I do believe however, that the lifestyle ambitions of the younger generations entering their adult lives are being approached quite differently. They are much more interested in living near the heart of the city rather than trade that proximity for a bigger house and front yard. Fundamentally, I believe this one of the main benefits of our UGB. Instead of pushing out, we have the opportunity to think about improving the core of our most vibrant neighborhoods. Rather than finding untouched land and starting anew, we focus on revitalizing central neighborhoods that have seen better times.
Despite the current trend, it honestly won’t be a surprise to me if we start to see more of the older generations finding a way to get back to the city core as well. When I think of the quality of life that my parents are going to live as they get older, I can see a lot of benefits to them moving closer in verses staying in the suburbs. I am sometimes surprised when I see articles written about some of the “hot” areas around town; areas that may hold onto the spotlight because of new restaurants and shops, but lack basic conveniences of a more “full-service” neighborhood.
To me, the neighborhoods that are going to be the “hottest” in the future are the ones where most of your goods and services are within walking distance of each other. For example, if you look at a section of town like the Hollywood district, you will see an area where you can handle the vast majority of your personal business without ever having to get in your car. This of course is over-simplification, but you show me a high walkability score, and I’ll show you a neighborhood ready to thrive. Without our Urban Growth Boundary, I can’t honestly say that I’d feel the same.