First Advisor

Thomas Harvey

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geography






Regional centers, Urban models, Metro (Portland), Cities and towns -- Oregon -- Washington County -- Growth, Urbanization -- Government policy -- Oregon -- Washington County, Land use -- Planning -- Oregon -- Washington County



Physical Description

1 online resource (v, 120 p.) : ill. (chiefly col.), maps (chiefly col.)


An increasing national focus on problems related to urban sprawl has fueled debate on the best way for urban areas to accommodate increasing populations. Portland, Oregon has attracted international attention for its growth policies, which are among the most stringent in the United States. Metro, the area's regional government in charge of long-range planning, has designated certain locations as regional centers where increased density and development are to occur. A logical question is whether or not these centers are developing as intended; do Metro's plans match reality on the ground? This study of Washington County, Oregon analyzes land value, building volume, road intersection density, and public transportation availability using ArcGIS to locate potential regional centers in the county to answer that question. Subjective criteria are used during field visits to these locations to determine whether potential centers identified in the ArcGIS analysis are truly regional centers. Change over time is analyzed from 2000 to 2010 to see if the variables mentioned above contribute to regional center development. This study's results show Metro's designated regional centers are, in fact, regional centers or emerging regional centers using the above criteria, meaning this aspect of Metro's plans do match reality on the ground. Commercial land value tends to be the strongest indicator of regional centeredness. This study's findings aid in the understanding of urban areas. They help urban planners in their efforts to create viable plans that accommodate population growth and future development.


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Portland State University. Dept. of Geography

Persistent Identifier