Urban growth boundary

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{area, community, home}
{city, large, area}
{company, market, business}
{law, state, case}
{theory, work, human}
{rate, high, increase}
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{village, small, smallsup}
{town, population, incorporate}

An urban growth boundary, or UGB, is a regional boundary, set in an attempt to control urban sprawl by mandating that the area inside the boundary be used for higher density urban development and the area outside be used for lower density development.

An urban growth boundary circumscribes an entire urbanized area and is used by local governments as a guide to zoning and land use decisions. If the area affected by the boundary includes multiple jurisdictions a special urban planning agency may be created by the state or regional government to manage the boundary. In a rural context, the terms town boundary, village curtilage or village envelope may be used to apply the same constraining principles. Some jurisdictions refer to the area within an urban growth boundary as an urban growth area, or UGA. While the names are different, the concept is the same. Another term used is urban service area.


UGBs and housing prices

Urban growth boundaries have come under an increasing amount of scrutiny in the past 10 years as housing prices have substantially risen, especially on the West Coast of the U.S.[1] By limiting the supply of developable land, critics argue, UGBs increase the price of existing developable and already-developed land. As a result, they theorize, housing on that land becomes more expensive. In Portland, Oregon, for example, the housing boom of the previous four years drove the growth-management authority to substantially increase the UGB in 2004. While some point to affordability for this action, in reality it was in response to Oregon State law.[2] By law, Metro, the regional government, is required to maintain a 20-year supply of land within the boundary. Even with the addition of several thousand acres (several km²) housing prices continued to rise at record-matching paces. Supporters of UGBs point out that Portland's housing market is still more affordable than other West Coast cities, and housing prices have increased across the country.

Places with urban growth boundaries


Albania maintains the 'yellow line' system hailing from its Socialist Regime - limiting urban development beyond a designated boundary for all municipalities.

United States

The U.S. states of Oregon, Washington and Tennessee require cities to establish urban growth boundaries. California requires each county to have a Local Agency Formation Commission, which sets urban growth boundaries for each city and town in the county. However, in states such as Tennessee the boundaries are not used to control growth but rather to define long-term city boundaries. States such as Texas use the delineation of Extra Territorial Jurisdictional boundaries to map out future city growth with the idea of minimizing competitive annexations rather than controlling growth. Notable U.S. cities which have adopted UGBs include Portland, Oregon; Boulder, Colorado; Virginia Beach, Virginia; Lexington, Kentucky; and San Jose, California. Urban growth boundaries also exist in Miami-Dade County, Florida and the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Portland, Oregon is required to have an urban growth boundary which contains at least 20,000 acres (81 km2) of vacant land. Additionally, Oregon restricts the development of farmland. The regulations are controversial, but an economic analysis concluded that farmland appreciated similarly to the other land.[3]

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