Thursday, October 20, 2005

Portland suburban land values reach "tipping point" 

Portland land-use planners are excited to report that the urban-growth boundary has driven land values up so high that it is now profitable for developers to buy existing suburban homes, tear them down, and replace them with high-density housing. They call this the "tipping point."

Planners admit that they "envisioned" this in 1997 when Metro, Portland's regional planning agency, formally adopted its 2040 plan. At the same time, they continue to claim that the urban-growth boundary did not increase land and housing prices.

One development consists of attached townhouses that are 1,200 square feet in size. The developer says, "Our price point, between $279,000 and $310,000, is perfect for first-time homebuyers." What a laugh! $79,000 to $110,000 would be perfect for first-time homebuyers, and such prices -- for single-family homes, not townhouses -- are not unusual in cities that don't have lots of land-use regulation. Never again in Portland.

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