Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Oh Portland, you've done it again.

This article explains that Metro in Portland have divvied up the land in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties in Oregon. They have urban reserves, rural reserves, and some areas that haven’t been designated yet due to disagreements. They have allocated 27,000 acres to urban reserves, and 270,000 acres to rural reserves. This will be an 11% increase in urban reserves, and it is supposed to sustain for the next 40 to 50 years. Unfortunately, the population of the region is expected to grow 60 to 70% in the same time. Those numbers don’t quite add up very well, even if all they build is big apartment buildings. However it is believed that this will create “compact, vibrant communities”. Meanwhile conservation groups are asking for more rural reserves, and the people of Portland are trying to convince Metro that it didn’t work the first time and they don’t want to wait another 50 years to find out it didn’t work the second time.

What was more entertaining than the article were the comments made on the article. While not quite credible there were some good points made, along with some crazy points made. One woman talked about how they owned land that had been in her husband’s family for over 100 years. Oregon put a highway through the middle of it and a section was reduced to 18 acres and didn’t have a ‘legal dwelling’ on it. Her family rents the land out to a farmer for $800 a year, which doesn’t quite cover the $80,000 that they have to make off the land to live there. Interestingly enough, if they set such high amounts as the requirement, perhaps not in this woman’s case but in other farmers, it may cause them to raise the prices on renting the land out, or raise the prices of the crops the farmers grow, obviously raising the prices of food. Good job Portland! This article, along with the comments indirectly shows how really the only thing that these urban growth boundaries are doing is raising prices. The prices of housing, land, and food are rising because of planning taking place.

Another person made a pretty valid comment. He was at first saying how people being condensed caused crime, unhappiness, and that this was just the government trying to tell people how to live. What I felt to be the most valid point he made was why are we preventing urban sprawl rather than preventing urban decay. If you make a city a place where people want to live they will. Instead of pumping money into planning and restrictions why not pump it into things like schools, or amenities to attract people?

On a side note, it was also said that economists are fanatics of our religion (economics), and we’re out to destroy all other. This was after this person compared economists (really free-market capitalists, but I think this person saw those as the exact same thing, though they said that free-market capitalists use force) to Christians. I have yet to see the church of economics though.

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