PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — There’s no question the Portland metro area is growing substantially, and new population estimates from Portland State University show the city is growing faster than expected.
But many are wondering how the Rose City will be impacted as more and more people move in.
Metro, which voted not to expand the city’s urban growth boundary last year, says Portland’s growth problem is less of a land issue and more of a housing issue.
“What Oregonians hate the most is sprawl and density,” Metro President Tom Hughes said, referring to the council’s decision not to expand the urban growth boundary. “Our system is to maintain a level of density that allows us not to sprawl out on the farm land, but at the same time, not feel like we are packed in like sardines.”
Metro made its decision in November when the 7-county region’s population was estimated to be around 2.3 million people. But new estimates from PSU and the U.S. Census Bureau show that number is about 11,000-33,000 people short.
It may seem like a small number now, but it could have big implications in the future.
Hughes says the difficulty isn’t expanding the urban growth boundary to provide more land, but “getting houses built on the land” that has already been expanded.
More than 400,000 people are expected to move to the Portland metro area over the next 20 years, increasing the region’s population to 2.7 million.
Hughes says current trends show more people are moving into urban, multi-family housing, and thanks to millennials, that trend is only expected to continue.
The Urban Growth Task Force, which includes leaders from 25 cities and 3 counties, will look deeper into this trend and many others to help plan for the future.
Metro will also take another look at the population forecast in 2018 to determine whether to expand the urban growth boundary or increase multi-family housing.