The Metro Council is poised to expand the urban growth boundary by 2,200 acres to help accommodate 9,200 new homes next Thursday. They would be built in Beaverton, Hillsboro, King City and Wilsonville.
The elected regional government held a final hearing on the proposed expansion on Thursday, Dec. 6. The final vote scheduled next Thursday, Dec. 13.
Thursday's hearing was part of a new process for considering expansions to the boundary, which determines where growth can occur in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas county. For the first time, the elected regional government solicited and considered requests from cities onto adjacent urban reserves set aside for future development. The cities had to submit plans about how they would support the growth, including how they would guarantee a mix of housing,
The largest request being considered came from Beaverton, which asked to expand onto 1,232 acres in the Cooper Mountain urban reserve area for 3,760 homes. The next largest request is from King City, which wants to add 528 acres in the Beef Bend South area for 3,300 homes. After that, Wilsonville wants to expand on 271 acres in the Advance Road (Frog Pond) area for 1,325 homes. And Hillsboro wants to expand on 150 acres in the Witch Hazel South area for 850 homes.
Such housing is in high demand. Hundreds of new homes have recently been built or are currently under construction in the Cooper Mountain area, where the Beaverton School District's new Mountainside High School opened last September. Most of the homes currently under construction in the area are already sold.
A Metro staff report says the expansions could reduce owner-occupied home prices slightly in the Portland area. "If developed, the four proposed UGB expansions would result in modest reductions in housing prices for owner-occupied housing by providing additional housing supply," reads the 2018 Urban Growth Report, which was released July 3 to inform the council's decision.
In addition to the four cities, the expansion requests were supported by the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland, PGE, Clackamas County, the Clackamas County Business Alliance, the Community Housing Fund, and the Westside Economic Alliance.
"As you are aware, the Portland metropolitan area is in the midst of a housing supply and affordability crisis. It is time to act," the Westside Economic Alliance wrote the council on Aug. 15.
Some residents in each of the cities opposed the requests, with most saying they prefer the way things are. The Sherwood City Council withdrew a fifth preliminary request in the face of community opposition in April.
But even of all the expansions are approved, the predicted just a addition 9,200 units is just a fraction of the 280,000 or so more homes that Metro says are needed in the region by 2038. Many more units are expected to be new apartments in Portland, which is already zoned for them. Such developments have already been built or are taking place along major transportation corridors, including stretches of Southeast Division Street, Southeast Tacoma Street, Southeast Belmont Street, Burnside Street, North Mississippi Avenue, North Williams Avenue, the Lloyd District, and in the former Conway freight distribution site in Northwest Portland.
The City Council also is scheduled to consider a proposal next summer to rezone a significant portion of single-family neighborhoods for relatively small multifamily projects, such as duplexes, triplexes, four-plexes and additional accessory dwelling units. The idea is controversial, and has generated considerable organized support and opposition.