Sacramento has been influenced by the myth of urban planning promoted by the leaders of Portland, Oregon—large-scale urban density, mass-transit replacing cars, leading to livable, affordable, and diverse communities; but the reality is different, as this article from New Geography reveals.
“Portland, Oregon, was for a long time cited as a good example of pro-density housing strategies which sought to limit ‘sprawl’, to promote public transport by investing in things like light rail, and to promote cycling and a range of other planning ‘solutions’ that would sound remarkably familiar in Australia.
“The truth about Portland, however, didn’t match the hype of its city planners. Much of the boosterism focused on the mostly downtown area of Portland. Like Melbourne, or Sydney, this is its own municipality, with its own Mayor and its own planning officials. As they aggressively sold a story about the virtues of their planning strategy for the city core, they omitted the inconvenient broader metropolitan facts as they went.
“The story of the real Portland, including the surrounding suburban areas, is different than what these policy promoters would have you believe. Portland today, despite hundreds of millions invested in a new light rail system and the promotion of inner city housing density, has fewer public transport trips as a percentage of total travel than in 1980. Urban Growth Boundaries introduced by Oregon State in the 1970s led to housing price pressures which eventually excluded the middle and working class. Leading US city demographer Joel Kotkin describes it as an ‘elite city’ which is ‘remarkably white, young and childless.’ And as international housing market expert Wendell Cox has pointed out, the suggestion that Portland has much to crow about in terms of urban consolidation doesn’t match the official statistics. Portland is as guilty of ‘sprawl’ as Los Angeles.”