Is Portland prepared for population boom?

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — The City of Portland is expected to see a huge population boom over the next two decades, but as of now, there aren’t enough places for those people to live.

Neighbors across the Portland area have protested the process known as lot splitting in which a developer tears down one home and replaces it with two.

However, developers said it’s a necessity due to a lack of space in the city.

A man stands outside of his NE Portland home next to a sign in his yard protesting the recent lot splitting and demolitions taking place in the metro area, June 11, 2014. (KOIN 6)
A man stands outside of his NE Portland home next to a sign in his yard protesting the recent lot splitting and demolitions taking place in the metro area, June 11, 2014. (KOIN 6)

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales agreed that lot splitting is a good idea for the city but also has his reservations.

“In places [it’s been good], but I think we’ve probably overdone it a little bit,” said Hales.

The Portland area is projected to see a population growth of up to 725,000 people in the next 20 years, but is city hall prepared for the boom?

“The comprehensive plan literally looks at every square foot of land in the city and says, ‘Where can we accommodate more people with the most upside and the least downside?’” said Hales.

According to the Portland Home Builders Association, the city has the capacity for 15,000 new, single family homes, which pales in comparison to the 725,000 people expected to move to the area.

“Change in general is difficult for people, and with population growth, we will continue to have change,” said Tim Reid, Metro senior regional planner.

Reid said Metro is in the process of analyzing the expected population growth and space available. One option, he said, is expanding the restrictive urban growth boundary, but that still may not solve the entire issue.

“Our regions track record is that despite adding about 31,000 acres to the urban growth boundary, most of the growth is happening in existing communities,” said Reid.

Metro said history shows us people want to live in the city’s core whether there is space for them or not.

The city said the comprehensive plan they’re working on will look at all options. Hales added they will likely also work to make lot splitting more difficult.

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