Now at just over 600,000, the population of Portland is expected to increase by some 30-50,000 people in the next five years. A story in yesterday’s GoLocalPDX reviews the implications — good and bad — of rapid growth.
- Population and economic growth usually go hand in hand. So Portland will likely experience an increase in jobs and overall prosperity.
- But economic growth may not be sustainable or of optimal quality since the city attracts many young people who don’t have jobs and retirees on fixed incomes.
- The city’s current Urban Growth Boundary — designed to limit urban sprawl and promote density — may not be able to contain or house a growing population. Already the supply of single family homes and apartments is low compared to demand. Prices and rents have risen sharply.
- Rising home prices and rents fuel gentrification, which revitalizes neighborhoods and increases the net worth of homeowners. But it also displaces lower income people unless construction of affordable housing is encouraged and enforced.
- Enlarging the Urban Growth Boundary to accommodate population growth will lead to urban sprawl, more freeways and traffic congestion and tend to sap the vitality of the city center.
- If the current Boundary is maintained, then the city will need to grow up. But taller buildings block light, create wind, and undermine the walkability or livability of city streets. Already residents and businesses in the west quadrant have raised concerns about taller buildings.
City officials will need to address these issues as they draw up the next 20-year plan for urban development. The GoLocalPDX story encourages residents to accept the mayor’s invitation to help shape the plan with their input.