"A lot of developers here are really split on the issue of Metro and the urban-growth boundary because they're getting filthy rich off of it. They expand [the growth boundary] by 4,500 acres, and wherever they draw that line, on one side of the line land is $100 or $150 an acre, and on the other side it's worth $3,000 an acre," Sizemore said. "But I don't know any developers that haven't told me that eventually Metro's plan will ruin it for everyone."
"John Fregonese was quoted as saying Beaver Cleaver doesn't exist anymore, and you don't need a back yard. Well, Fregonese's an arrogant jerk," said Dick Laughlin, a resident of Portland's West Moreland neighborhood, a district of 1920s houses that, along with nearby Selwood, will see 5,700 new residents in row houses and apartments under Portland's plan for the next several decades.
Martie Sucec, head of the Multnomah Neighborhood Assn., said many Portland residents laud the region's growth-management goals but believe that Portland is making a mistake by trying to cram too much of the new growth into old neighborhoods.
"What the city's map [for Multnomah] called for was to rezone all but eight blocks of the neighborhood to high-density housing, and that's in a 120-block neighborhood," Sucec said. "It just infuriated people. All you had to do was show people the map, and you had an army of volunteers [against the plan]."
But on the other side, Knowles points out, are neighborhoods like those in northwest Portland that had been slowly dying before redevelopment attracted people back. Regions like the River District will, through intense urbanization, transform old rail yards into livable neighborhoods of offices, shopping and high-density housing.
Redevelopment May Be the Key
What happens in those neighborhoods, much more than what happens on the urban fringes, says Watson, is what will determine whether the plan fails or succeeds. Her next project will be an attempt to capitalize on the light-rail line running through the Goose Hollow region near downtown. She is seeking design approval for a transit-oriented condominium development, nine stories high on what is now a small, vacant corner lot. Neighbors have raised concerns about the building because it is so high.
"The true test will be people like me and other developers who can focus on redevelopment," Watson said. "Because if we can't do that, they're going to blow that boundary out like no one's ever seen."
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Setting Growth Limits
The 364-square-mile urban-growth boundary encompasses Portland and 24 surrounding cities in three counties. It is the area in which all urban development must be contained, leaving outlying farms, orchards and forests untouched. Recently, the Portland Metro regional council voted to expand the urban growth boundary by about 4,500 acres. As a first step, the council designated urban reserves, shown on the map, which are most likely to become part of the urban growth boundary.