A response to my WA-OR sprawl post: urban growth boundaries aren't necessarily enough
Brock Howell, King County Program Director, for Futurewise (the group was formerly named "1000 Friends of Washington" and is a smart growth advocacy group) writes:
Oregon is fairly lenient when it comes to setting the boundaries (although both states could be better in this regard). Washington falls short in the allowable density in rural areas and agricultural resource lands (max 1du/5ac or 1du/10).
Most of the sprawl over the last two decades in Clark County hasn't been in contradiction of WA's GMA. It's been in the rural area.
Consider the Columbia River Crossing project. The EIS basically says that there will be no sprawl in Clark County because they have a UGA and rural/resource land protections. What the EIS fails to mention is that the expanded bridge would induce more development of Clark County rural lands.
The CRC is a project that Metro has control over. It's unfortunate that the Metro council isn't thinking about the sustainability for the whole region, even though they clearly could, and would actually be of economic benefit to Portland.
Also, I don't think its fair to pick on this recent location if the investment firm to Camas. I bet if it located in Hillsboro, Beaverton, or Gresham or even Salem or Corvallis you wouldn't find cause to decry the move.
You can pick on tax policies, but probaby not regional UGB coordination.
My response, besides recommending that people watch episodes #2 and #3 from the web program "Vancouvria", which is a parody of "Portlandia" and the Portland suburbs, is this:
Well, I should have said that an urban growth boundary isn't enough in and of itself to prevent sprawl, because plenty of land development that occurs within a growth boundary may not be "smart" because it still ends up being the perhaps unnecessary development of "greenfield" property that had been undeveloped.
I didn't mention in the entry that for a time I worked in the planning office for Baltimore County, Maryland, which is one of the first places in the U.S. to have enacted a UGB, in 1967.
As someone aligned with the smart growth movement and ideal, I'd say that most of the county's policies (despite some good ones, and not necessarily what the plans say should occur) are focused on "growth" in Owings Mills and White Marsh, which for the most part isn't necessary, even though it's within what they call the URDL ("urban rural demarcation line"), because there are plenty of intensification opportunities in already developed areas of the county that aren't as far out as Owings Mills or White Marsh. (I wrote about this with regard to Owings Mills as an example of why Maryland needs a state land use plan like PlanMaryland here, "State vs. local control over land use: Maryland edition" and "What the State of Maryland still doesn't get about smart growth.")
The URDL keeps development within the line for the most part and outside of the rural area (they control development by not providing access to "city" water "outside" the URDL--the water system is run by Baltimore City in association with the county)--although the line changes when the Growth Machine demands it (e.g., development triggered by McCormick Spice's move to Hunt Valley in the late 1980s).
So you're right, just because development is within the URDL (or within an urban growth boundary) doesn't mean it's "smart."