Land Use Planning in Oregon

Oregon has what is arguably the most well-developed and progressive state land use planning system in the United States.  This system was established by Senate Bill 100 in 1973, and is governed by the Land Conservation and Development Commission.

The mission of Oregon’s land use planning system is

“to conserve farm land, forest land, coastal resources, and other important natural resources; encourage efficient development; coordinate the planning activities of local governments and state and federal agencies; enhance the state’s economy; and reduce the public costs that result from poorly planned development” (Oregon Blue Book).

Oregon’s land use planning system is based on 19 State-wide Planning Goals (“Goals”), which are implemented through local planning processes.  Each jurisdiction in the state must complete and periodically update a comprehensive plan consistent with the Goals.

A number of these Goals are related to housing.  State-wide planning Goal 10 is “to provide for the housing needs of the citizens of the state.”  Specifically, jurisdictions must maintain an inventory of land designated for residential use “at price ranges and rent levels which are commensurate with the financial capabilities of Oregon households and allow for flexibility of housing location, type and density.”

Oregon’s Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), established by Goal 14, designates where development can occur, and is continually adjusted to accommodate changes in urban populations.  The UGB is intended both to protect green space and agricultural land, and to control urban sprawl.

There has been some debate over whether, by limiting the amount of land available, the UGB contributes to rising housing costs.  This is part of a larger conversation in Oregon about Goal 14 and property rights, the subject of Measures 37 and 49.

Housing Land Advocates uses the tools of advocacy, education and litigation to help ensure that the housing needs of all Oregonians are being recognized and met by both the State-wide Planning Goals, and by local land use decisions.

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