Portland-area voters preserve urban growth boundary


The Associated Press/King 5 News

PORTLAND, Ore. - After 23 years as a national leader in controlling urban sprawl, Portland area residents Tuesday maintained building restrictions that have preserved forests and farmland close to the city.

"People basically said they do support the course we have been going on and think it's important we have planning and do the kind of work we do to protect what we have," said Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder. "It heartens me. It's a difficult message to get across.

Voters faced conflicting measures on the primary ballot. With 80 percent of votes counted, Measure 26-11, which would prohibit the regional agency Metro from setting minimum population density requirements within the urban growth boundary, was failing with 97,659 no votes, for 57 percent, to 74,881 yes votes, for 43 percent.

Measure 26-29, a countermeasure from Metro to change its charter to maintain control over urban density while requiring additional planning to protect the livability of neighborhoods and assure adequate services, was passing with 113,860 yes votes, for 66 percent, to 58,369 no votes, for 34 percent.

Larry George of Oregonians In Action, the property rights group that challenged the authority of Metro to manage urban growth, said despite losing, the campaign had shown the agency many people do not like high density in their neighborhoods.

"This probably launches this debate into many more years of a great open public discussion," George said. "We're thrilled.

Kelly Ross of the Homebuilders Association of Metropolitan Portland said he would not go so far as George in putting a positive light on the outcome, but felt the public's awareness on the issue was now higher.

"This will make Metro councilors and local governments aware there are very real concerns and anxiety among the general public about what is happening in their neighborhoods," Ross said.

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