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Housing Policy Debate

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Urban planning -- Oregon -- Portland Metropolitan Area, Housing -- Oregon -- Portland Metropolitan Area, Urban community development -- Oregon -- Case studies


Portland, OR, is often cited as an example of successful regional governance and planning. The metropolitan area appears to match many of the precepts of the popular "compact city" model of urban growth and to demonstrate the capacity of local and state government to shape growing metropolitan regions. Given this reputation, it is important to evaluate the relevance of the Portland experience for other communities, distinguishing unique local circumstances form generalizable characteristics. This analysis explores the spatial character of metropolitan Portland in the 1990s, summarizes the politics of regional planning, examines weaknesses in the Portland approach, and offers suggestions for other metropolitan areas. The study finds that many of Portland's accomplishments center on urban design, but that the region's most distinguishing characteristics is its attention to political process. The discussion concludes with suggestions about the value of extensive civic discourse,incremental policy making, and institution building.


This is an Author's Original Manuscript of an article whose final and definitive form, the Version of Record, has been published in the Housing Policy Debate 1997 [copyright Taylor & Francis], available online at: The article was published under the following title: The Portland region: Where city and suburbs talk to each other—and often agree.



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