Earlier this month, Metro released its anticipated Urban Growth Report. One of the hot topics covered in the report is the four UGB expansion proposals currently being considered by Metro Council.

Beyond this topic on future possible expansion areas, Metro Council also gave its view on various other interesting topics. One the topics was “Where we stand today with housing”. Below are some points made in the report. Be sure to share in the comments your thoughts on Metro’s assessment of Greater Portland’s current housing situation.

Metro Urban Growth Report –  “Where we stand today with housing”

  • Coming out of the Great Recession, Greater Portland grew its economy and added high wage jobs at higher rates than almost any other large U.S. metro area.
  • Thousands of young, educated workers migrated to the region drawn by the high quality of life and the opportunity of a booming economy.
  • This influx of new affluence and new people brought both economic growth and new challenges , changing the dynamics of our housing market and shifting the geography of affordability in a short period of time.
  • Housing construction came to a halt in the Great Recession but took off again as the region emerged from the Recession.
  • Currently, rents here are similar to those in cities around the country (Atlanta, Minneapolis, Nashville, Denver and Chicago).
  • Current rent rates represent a value compared to other coastal cities.
  • The most straightforward way to keep housing prices in check is to build more housing.
  • More than 20,000 new units of multifamily housing have been completed in thePortland metropolitan area since 2010.
  • Since 2015, developers submitted 25,000 permits for future multifamily buildings in greater Portland, meaning more apartments are in the pipeline.
  • Development type – Click to enlarge

    Nearly 30,000 permits for new single-family units, including duplexes and triplexes, were submitted between 2010 and mid-2017.

  • Most new housing is being built in existing areas (through redevelopment and infill in existing urban areas.
  • Several hundred accessory dwelling units (also known as “ADUs”, “granny flats” or “in-law” cottages) have been being built per year in the Metro UGB for several years now.
  • Today, a new single-family home uses about half as much land as one built in 1980.
  • New housing is being held back by various items such
    • as a lack of funding for pipes, pavement, parks and other facilities to make vacant lands development-ready.
    • neighborhood opposition to change that can slow or stop housing proposals.
    • uncertainty in permitting processes.
    • difficult access to financing for developers.
    • zoning codes that restrict housing.
    • depending on the location, achievable rents that are sometimes insufficient to spur redevelopment.
    • site specific challenges such as lot sizes and configurations, access, contamination, or property owners that don’t want to develop or sell.
  • Single Family lot size vs house size – Click to enlarge

    Since 1998, Metro Council has added about 27,000 acres or about 42 square miles to the UGB. But expansion in these areas is a challenge – building streets, sidewalks, sewers and other basic
    infrastructure to support a neighborhood easily costs hundreds of millions of dollars.

  • Another challenge – the private market often can’t profitably build new housing that is affordable to people earning lower incomes.
  • More and more, people prefer to live close to urban amenities like restaurants, grocery stores and cafes, as opposed to away from urban centers.
  • Many people that live in the suburbs are seeking urban amenities – restaurants and transit, for instance.
  • Unable to afford living in the region’s urban centers, many people have moved to areas of the region with cheaper housing – leading to gentrification and a shift in the racial geography of the region over the last decade.

Dates to remember (subject to change)

  • July 3, 2018: Metro releases Urban Growth Report, with analysis of the existing growth boundary, growth trends and expansion options.
  • Sept. 4, 2018: Metro’s Chief Operating Officer recommendation.
  • Sept. 12, 2018: Metro Policy Advisory Committee recommendation to the Metro Council.
  • Sept. 20 and 27, 2018: Metro Council public hearings and direction to staff.
  • Dec. 6, 2018: Metro Council public hearing.
  • Dec. 13, 2018: Metro Council decision on growth boundary expansion.