FAQ - Reserves


Does creation of an urban reserve guarantee that the urban growth boundary will expand there?

No. Urban reserves will be the areas that are selected first for urban growth boundary expansions if and when they happen over the next 40 to 50 years, but it will be up to the Metro Council – now and in the future – to determine when, where or how the urban growth boundary gets expanded. Land that will be included in urban reserves will not be developed with urban zoning until it is brought into the urban growth boundary.

How can I get involved with this effort?

Metro and the three counties are coordinating public outreach efforts to engage citizens throughout the region in the study of urban and rural reserve areas and to advise the Reserves Steering Committee—and the Metro Council and three county commissions—on which areas are best suited to accommodate future growth and which areas should be protected for farmland, natural area preservation, forestry or other rural needs.

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How much land is needed for urban and rural reserves?

That has not yet been determined. A forecast of population and employment over the next 50 years, illustrating a range of possible outcomes, has been prepared by Metro that will help inform this work. This work will also attempt to assess how much population and employment growth can be accommodated within the existing UGB, which will also determine how much land may be needed for urban reserves. With regard to rural reserves, it is not so much a question of how much land is needed as it is in identifying which agricultural areas, forest lands and natural areas are the most valuable and should be excluded from urban development.

How will this process deal with the transportation needs this much population growth will demand?

The Urban and Rural Reserves process won’t directly address the need. During analysis of the study area for potential reserves, one of the many factors to be considered is proximity to infrastructure. The Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) analysis is also underway with the same timeframe. The intent is to match transportation needs through the RTP with reserves designation. Also occurring at the same time is funding analysis – how will needed changes be paid for – and a process to set some benchmarks to monitor progress and adjust programs as necessary. These four processes are going on under the “Making the Greatest Places” planning efforts led by Metro.

If my land is included in a rural reserve, does that change what I can do with my land?

No. Lands that are brought into rural reserves will not have additional restrictions or limitations placed on them beyond those that already exist. The same rural zoning and development restrictions will apply. A rural reserve designation will exclude land from being brought into the UGB over the next 40 to 50 years.

Is South Hillsboro (or any other specific area) likely to be an urban reserve?  Is Sauvie Island (or any other specific area) likely to be a rural reserve?

It is premature to suggest which areas will be included as which types of reserves. We’re just getting started on determining the scope of the broader regional area to study for urban and rural reserves. Reserve study areas have not been defined yet, and no agreements have been made between Metro and the counties to designate any specific area as a particular type of reserve. The findings of the Shape of the Region study will serve as a foundation for a regional conversation about which areas are best suited for which types of reserves.

Over the past several years, there have been a variety of studies done by different local, regional, and state agencies. Are these studies being incorporated into the reserves designation process?

Much of the work done in the last several years is being incorporated. For instance, the Shape of the Region study done in 2006 – 2007 helped increase awareness of the agricultural community’s value to the region – it is one of many reasons rural reserves are being designated – to protect valuable agricultural lands. Many of the cities within the Metro region are updating their comprehensive plans – those updates help provide information into how much growth each city can or would like to accommodate. A number of economic analysis are occurring for the same reason. Other studies important to the reserves process include: natural resource protections (streams, rivers, corridors, etc.); regional and local transportation plans; costs and availability of infrastructure to deliver services; and population and employment growth forecasts.

All of these studies contribute valuable input to determine what areas need protection from urban growth (rural reserves) and what areas could logically and efficiently accommodate more growth. An additional important study being conducted will identify growth capacity within the current Urban Growth Boundary.

There are a variety of opinions on the accuracy of the population projections that are the basis of the designation process. Are there good reasons to believe these projections are accurate?

The projections are as accurate as any 40 – 50 year projection can be. Considering how different the region looks today than 1960, it is hard to believe any projection will be spot on. However, in preparing the projections, five distinctly different approaches were used that resulted in a range. That range, of 3.5 to 4.1 million people in 2060 (up from approximately 2.5 million now) is a guideline for region wide growth.

There is much interest in providing local farm goods to local markets. How will small farms be considered? Will they be forced to change if they are designated one type of reserve or another?

No. Land uses remain the same for all property owners regardless of being designated one reserve or the other. A primary intent is to provide long-term certainty so that farms within rural reserves will remain agriculture-oriented for the next 40 – 50 years. Current farm use on lands designated urban reserves can continue farming. Once an urban reserve is considered for inclusion into the Urban Growth Boundary, the value of the land may provide property owners with additional choices regarding future use.

There were several open houses held last summer and earlier this spring. Were those our only chance to provide input into this process?

No. The open houses addressed the first two key questions in the process. 1) Was the proposed study area (green area on the maps) the appropriate area to begin reserves analysis? 2) Are the proposed Candidate Urban and Rural Reserve areas the appropriate areas for further analysis? Public input informed the decision-making process to properly identify the study area and candidate reserves areas. Now that the study area and candidate reserves areas have been agreed to, technical staff from Metro and the counties will begin applying state-mandated criteria. Once the technical staff has moved forward with initial analysis, the public will be asked for their review and comment again inlcuding a Public Hearing August 20, 2009. Beyond those opportunities, each additional phase of the project will incorporate multiple ways for the community to weigh-in. All four of the participating jurisdictions have dedicated websites to provide current information.

Each jurisdiction has multiple advisory committees working on the project, all of which are open to the community and all have opportunity for public comment.

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What are urban and rural reserves?

Urban reserves will be areas outside of the current Metro urban growth boundary (UGB) that will be designated to accommodate future expansions of the UGB over the next 40 to 50 years. These areas, before coming into the UGB, will need to provide for public facilities and services in a cost-effective manner.

Rural reserves will be areas outside of the current Metro UGB that will be excluded from UGB expansions and provide long-term protection for agriculture, forestry or important natural landscape features that limit urban development or help define appropriate natural boundaries of urbanization.

What factors are considered when creating urban reserves?

When identifying and selecting lands for designation as urban reserves, these and other factors will be considered:

•Can the land be developed at urban densities in a way that makes efficient use of existing and future public and private infrastructure investments?
•Does the land include sufficient development capacity to support a healthy economy?
•Can the land be served efficiently and cost-effectively with public schools and other urban-level public facilities and services by appropriate and financially capable service providers?
•Can the land be designed to be walkable and served with a well-connected system of streets, bikeways, recreation trails and public transit by appropriate service providers?
•Can the area be designed to preserve and enhance natural ecological systems?
•Does the area include sufficient land suitable for a range of needed housing types?
•Can the area be developed in a way that preserves important natural landscape features included in urban reserves?
•Can the area be designed to avoid or minimize adverse effects on farm and forest practices, and avoid or minimize adverse effects on important natural landscape features, on nearby land including land designated as rural reserves?

What happens if in the end, Metro and the three counties don’t agree on designations?

If consensus is not reached, Metro will revert to the existing UGB growth approach.

Where can I find more information about this effort?

More information about urban and rural reserves can be found online at www.oregonmetro.gov/reserves

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Who makes the decisions to designate urban and rural reserves?

Urban and rural reserves will be designated through agreements between the Metro Council and the county commissions of Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties. A Reserves Steering Committee, consisting of representatives of local cities, neighboring communities, business groups, developers, farmers, land use advocates, environmental organizations and others, is advising the three counties and Metro on the development of the reserve areas along with public input received through various events and forums.

Why are urban and rural reserves necessary?

The Metro Council is required to consider expansion of the UGB every five years to meet the anticipated land need for housing and jobs over the next 20 years. Without urban and rural reserves, the Metro Council must primarily consider the types and quality of soil in surrounding areas when determining where and how to expand the UGB, without considering whether that new land can provide for the public services and amenities that are essential to creating vibrant communities. Establishing urban reserves will help identify, before the UGB gets moved, which areas can best sustain vibrant communities. Without rural reserves, there are no long-term protections available for valuable agriculture, forest land and natural areas to prevent urban development of these areas.

Why are we looking at growth only in the Metro region and not encouraging growth to locate in other areas of the state?

The Urban and Rural Reserves process addresses growth within Metro’s jurisdiction. Newcomers to the area can’t be redirected to other regions. The three-county area is expected to increase substantially in the next 20+ years. Other counties also are expecting tremendous growth pressures. Other planning processes such as the Big Look are considering growth-related issues state wide. In addition many cities and counties are revising their comprehensive plans to accommodate change. The urban and rural reserves process is only one of many planning efforts underway to address growth.

Why are we only looking at growth in the Metro region, why limit considerations to just the three counties? Why aren’t Columbia, Marion, Yamhill and Clark County, Washington as well as surrounding cities involved in these discussions?

Metro has jurisdiction for growth and transportation management within Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties only. Recognizing that surrounding counties and communities, including Clark County in Washington, will also be impacted by future growth, those jurisdictions are kept informed through a variety of inter-governmental and inter-jurisdictional communications.

Why should urban and rural reserve designations last only 40 to 50 years?  Shouldn’t some rural reserves be permanent?

While providing long-term certainty for landowners, local governments, businesses and citizens is important in land use planning, land uses can change significantly over several decades and in ways that we cannot predict now. Establishing a 40- to 50-year rural reserve provides sufficient long-term protection for today’s landowners while giving flexibility to future generations to continue the reserve designations or modify them to meet changing needs.