Team Members: Jesse Simpson and Perri Pond
Today in lab, we began researching our object of concern, Portland’s urban growth boundary. We began by reading up on Portland Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) on the Metro website. From there, we began doing some more extensive investigations, researching how the urban growth boundary has changed since its creation in 1979, and how urban and rural reserves are defined in reference to it. We also found a existing scholarship on the issue, and noticed that much of it centered on an evaluation of the Portland UGB, especially in relation to its effectiveness in generating compact urban development, and the effects of the UGB on housing affordability and land values in the Portland area. Afterwards, we began to incorporate the hourglass approach into our research. Beginning at the top of the hourglass, we came up with a few evaluative and instrumental questions that ultimately helped us determine our framing question—what have been the effects of urban growth boundaries on urban development and housing prices in the United States?
After coming up with our framing question, we continued researching urban growth boundaries, and we began to look at different methods in which urban growth boundaries have been studied and researched. We attempted to locate the explanatory assumptions associated with both Metro’s implementation and advocacy of the UGB, and the explanatory assumptions behind the evaluative scholarship. We decided to focus on the land value side of the evaluative question, considering land values both more easily quantified and the subject of more relevant, material opposition. We saw that many evaluations of land prices and the UGB rested on an explanatory framework that ties notions of sprawl, market provision of housing, and housing affordability together. To reassess this landscape, we decided that it would be helpful to conduct our own extensive analysis of the urban growth boundary and land values. We determined that a combination of GIS mapping and statistical analysis could be helpful in getting a handle on quantitative, extensive information about how land values vary due to Portland’s Urban Growth Boundary.
At the same time, people’s perceptions of issues in urban planning can be just as influential on the planning process as the material effects, and they may not necessarily accord directly with “objective reality.” We thus consider it important to analyze these perceptions, and intend to do so via interviews and narrative analysis of Metro’s publications, scholarly reviews, and op-eds. The focus question which we have arrived at is: what are people’s perceptions of land value in relation to the Portland Urban Growth Boundary?