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Old 03-19-2013, 02:14 PM
 
1,221 posts, read 1,491,763 times
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Hi,

I would like to hear objective opinions about the so called "urban growth boundaries" or UGB.

The publicized intention of these UGBs is to preserve nature and local agriculture for the people living in the certain area or town. What is also well known is that establishing these UGBs directly result in sharp rising of housing prices in the area, making it unaffordable for many people to become home owners. Normally the UGB policies are advocated by people who are already homeowners, so they don't have to face housing unaffordability, they can (if they are financially reckless) cash out on their inflating equity through refinancing. They apparently have no compassion to other human beings, only to plants and wild animals. With establishing UGBs after buying their homes, they get a free ticket to travel upwards in the social/financial hierarchy (creating and restricting the membership of the new ownership class) by the rising home prices and by other people not being able to afford what they have. It is nice to have nature in your backyard, but if you really want that then move out of the job hotspots and get a farm in a rural area.
Often these OGBs are established in job hotspots like the Silicon Valley where there is an influx of workers to become new residents, increasing demand for housing, while the presence of UGB restricts supply forcing prices to rise even more. Also most of those who move for work to these places will have a better chance to find suitable jobs, but much less chance to be able to afford decent housing. This way those who establish the UGBs restrict the quality of life of those who are newcomers in an area, while their own quality if life does not decrease a little bit. I find it unfair and inhumane. Especially because the local economies are mainly driven by newcomers in those areas, and many older residents don't contribute (just take advantage of) the new wealth generated in the area. Everyone has a right to decent life, not only those who were there first. Often the pro-UGB advocates want to preserve nature, but they are only concerned about that little piece of nature that is at the edge of town, but not concerned too much about nature found in the real nature away from their own backyards. So I also find it hypocrisy as well.

So what do you think?
Should all newcomers in job hotspots become wage slaves to the former residents while living in tightly packed rental housing? Is that right?

What can we do AGAINST these UGBs and aggressive land preservation policies?
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Old 03-19-2013, 03:41 PM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
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Well, most of the US (and Canada) has loads of space within the built up areas of their cities to accomate population growth without having to resort to crowding. The problem is that existing residents often oppose the changes required to accomodate an increase in population within the built up area in an affordable manner.
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Old 03-19-2013, 05:55 PM
 
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Urban growth boundaries, such as the one in Oregan, lead to ridiculous situations like land inside being worth 30 times more than land outside, companies being unable to expand, and stimulation of development in the neighboring State.
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Old 03-20-2013, 05:29 AM
 
Location: "Daytonnati"
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Yes quite familiar with one, in Lexington/Fayette County, KY.

The effect was that there was more higher-density apartment type housing in Lexington, and that, after awhile, industrial development happened more in the ring of county seats outside of Lexington, since modern industrial development eats up a lot of land. Also, the houses that were built in Lex become more high-end. Lexington became more white-collar and affluent over time, while the surrounding county seats (about 15 miles out or so) (say, Winchester, Georgtown, Nicholasville) became more industrial and blue collar.


So yes, I think the urban growth boundary did inflate the housing market (both rentals and sales), so the response was to build further out beyond Fayette County. And the growth boundary would be extended every so often, too.

I should also say the growth boundary around Lexington was to protect the horse farms. To outsiders the horse biz seems like a paltry thing, but it is a multi-million dollar buisness in the Lexington area, so the growth control concept was sort of a way of protecting an important and lucrative sector of the local economy as much as about 'good planning'.
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Old 03-20-2013, 02:29 PM
 
Location: Just outside of Portland
4,621 posts, read 5,854,920 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pvande55 View Post
Urban growth boundaries, such as the one in Oregan, lead to ridiculous situations like land inside being worth 30 times more than land outside, companies being unable to expand, and stimulation of development in the neighboring State.
You are exaggerating a bit.
The good thing is that we don't have endless sprawl, huge tract housing developments, endless traffic jams, 7-11's, gas stations and strip malls on every corner, etc.

What we do have is nice rural countryside and beautiful scenery once you get out of the city.
And the city is focusing on public transit, denser housing, and urban livability, which is fine with me.

I have lived in Oregon all my life and honestly, I like the tradeoff.
Oregon doesn't need to look like Dallas, Houston, or southern California, thank you very much...

BTW, exceptions are made, but it takes forever to get them.

Last edited by pdxMIKEpdx; 03-20-2013 at 02:37 PM..
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Old 03-20-2013, 03:11 PM
 
2,553 posts, read 2,003,828 times
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Clearly, Buenos, you're starting from the position that the original problem is the UGB. This is not the case in the Bay Area. For us, zoning and a dramatically uneven distribution of income are the core problems.

Zoning rules have limited density, even as prices have risen over the decades, such that developers cannot keep up with demand. Just take a look at the south Bay to see; million dollar+ homes are common.

Meanwhile, the sheer number of individuals earning $100k+ and families earning $250k+ has created heated competition for houses, thereby pushing up prices.

The UGB, however, is not a core problem. Yes, it has been a problem, but a small one by comparison. How many houses do you think would fit in the Coyote Valley? Or on the eastern hills of SJ above the 15 degree slope line? Given how high land values are, can you honestly say that opening those lands to development, limited in scope as they are (see page 2 on http://www.sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/716), would make a large dent in home prices?
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Old 03-20-2013, 08:36 PM
 
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I did some research about how much SFHs could be built in the south bay: a thousand a year for 30-70 years.
See details: http://www.buenos.extra.hu/download/...e-bay-area.zip The areas I marked conflict with the UGB line on the map you posted. This could push prices down by 40%.

Once UGB is in place and already pushing prices upwards, then the real-estate investors (speculators) come in making things worse. They don't start investing in an area until something else starts pushing prices up.

My other point was, that UGBs push for high density housing development, but those who create these regulations will not live in those high density housing, they are already owners of single family homes. So they are forcing only OTHER people to live in high density housing.

The sprawl: I see nothing wrong with it. It makes sense only from the current homeowners perspective, for everyone else it should be desirable.
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Old 03-20-2013, 09:04 PM
 
2,553 posts, read 2,003,828 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buenos View Post
I did some research about how much SFHs could be built in the south bay: a thousand a year for 30-70 years.
See details: http://www.buenos.extra.hu/download/...e-bay-area.zip The areas I marked conflict with the UGB line on the map you posted. This could push prices down by 40%.

Once UGB is in place and already pushing prices upwards, then the real-estate investors (speculators) come in making things worse. They don't start investing in an area until something else starts pushing prices up.

My other point was, that UGBs push for high density housing development, but those who create these regulations will not live in those high density housing, they are already owners of single family homes. So they are forcing only OTHER people to live in high density housing.

The sprawl: I see nothing wrong with it. It makes sense only from the current homeowners perspective, for everyone else it should be desirable.
You have to use sprawl carefully on this subforum. It is generally, by myself included, taken as a negative, as in everything is spread out and segregated to the effect of being harmful to society. It is associated with endless tracts of low density suburban housing.

So sprawl should be taken as different from growth.

If you want anyone to click your link, a zip file is not the way to go. But I'd like to know what's in it.

As to your point about who supports the UGB, I do not own or live in a house, but I support San Jose's UGB, especially as it pertains to the Almaden Valley and the eastern hillsides. Quite frankly, I enjoy being able to look up at the hills and not see rows of houses.
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Old 03-20-2013, 09:51 PM
 
3,836 posts, read 4,713,490 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdxMIKEpdx View Post
You are exaggerating a bit.
The good thing is that we don't have endless sprawl, huge tract housing developments, endless traffic jams, 7-11's, gas stations and strip malls on every corner, etc.

What we do have is nice rural countryside and beautiful scenery once you get out of the city.
And the city is focusing on public transit, denser housing, and urban livability, which is fine with me.

I have lived in Oregon all my life and honestly, I like the tradeoff.
Oregon doesn't need to look like Dallas, Houston, or southern California, thank you very much...

BTW, exceptions are made, but it takes forever to get them.
The problem with Oregon's version of the UGB is it doesn't really fix the problem.

The problem of sprawl is form. Portland is building sprawl, just inside the UGB instead of outside it.

The real solution to sprawl is wholesale revision of city codes. Mandate buildings are oriented to the street and not set behind parking lots, allow for VMU, reign in the traffic engineers, tell the NIMBY's to stick it where the sun don't shine, stop requiring sufficient parking for the busiest shopping day of the year, build transit, create nodes everywhere of mixed use so people no longer need to get in a car for 99/100 trips, build more transit, etc.

It's not enough to draw a line around a city and say - in here, not there. I'm agnostic on a UGB - but it really wouldn't be necessary if codes were revised to make sprawl hard and make urbanism easy. Otherwise you are just massing sprawl. High density sprawl is just as bad as low density sprawl. You have to do more than just confine development - you have to direct it as well. Because this:



is still sprawl
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Old 03-20-2013, 10:22 PM
 
1,221 posts, read 1,491,763 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Komeht View Post
It's not enough to draw a line around a city and say - in here, not there. I'm agnostic on a UGB - but it really wouldn't be necessary if codes were revised to make sprawl hard and make urbanism easy. Otherwise you are just massing sprawl. High density sprawl is just as bad as low density sprawl. You have to do more than just confine development - you have to direct it as well. Because this: is still sprawl
I used to live in Europe with walkable cities and good public transport. But for each there was an option to buy single family housing at a reasonable price at the outskirts. Most people bought apartments inside the city. It was worth living in the city centre. Here in the Silicon Valley, city centre means high density wasteland, I could not walk anywhere for any reason, low-end living. I cannot walk to a pub (15min max distance) nor to a bakery (2min max distance) ... so then it would be worth living in a suburb instead which is not less walkable but at least much nicer.
What policies would confine sprawl without force? I think starting corner shops and pubs/restaurants and other places where people would want to walk in. I don't see any benefit of being close to the downtown here, I don't even go there, although if I lived in Manhattan or San Francisco then it would be different.


Quote:
Originally Posted by darkeconomist View Post
You have to use sprawl carefully on this subforum. It is generally, by myself included, taken as a negative, as in everything is spread out and segregated to the effect of being harmful to society. It is associated with endless tracts of low density suburban housing.So sprawl should be taken as different from growth.
Tell me more about it.
So what is acceptable growth? Only inner city multi-story hosing?
If not, then how does UGB allow for it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by darkeconomist View Post
If you want anyone to click your link, a zip file is not the way to go. But I'd like to know what's in it.
Here is another link, to an image file (that was in the zip file): http://www.buenos.extra.hu/download/..._south_bay.jpg
And the calculations:
I have converted the image to black and white, then used an image analysis program to calculate the percentage of black pixels. Then calculate the area occupied by those pixels: 2.48% = 50.77 km2
If we allow 5000sqft per house including street portion for access, 2 story homes, then it is 0.00046 km2 per house.
Total number of units = 50.77 km2 / 0.00046 km2 = 109295. Take 30% off for utilities, transport, shopping and recreation: 70k homes. Build 1000/year, then it's enough for 70 years. Now they build like 50/year.
Plus you can still build apartment buildings in the city centre in the same time. You can have both, but the UGB say, no, only city centre buildings are allowed. For healthy growth, you have to increase housing supply evenly in all categories, maybe with some bias, but not with a sharp cut on one category.
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