Portland has long been held up a model for urban planning, but research indicates the model is somewhat toxic rather than completely healthful, as this article from New Geography indicates.
“Portland Metro's president, David Bragdon, recently resigned to take a position with New York’s Bloomberg administration. Bragdon was nearing the end of his second elected term and ineligible for another term. Metro is the three county (Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties) planning agency that oversees Portland's land use planning and transportation policies, among the most stringent and pro-transit in the nation.
“Metro's jurisdiction includes most of the bi-state (Washington and Oregon) Portland area metropolitan area, which also includes the core municipality of Portland and the core Multnomah County.
“Local television station KGW (Channel 8) featured Bragdon in its Straight Talk program before he left Portland. Some of his comments may have been surprising, such as his strong criticism of the two state (Washington and Oregon) planning effort to replace the aging Interstate Bridge (I-5) and even more so, his comments on job creation in Portland. He noted "alarming trends below the surface," including the failure to create jobs in the core of Portland "for a long time."
“Bragdon was on to something. Metro's three county area suffers growing competitive difficulties, even in contrast to the larger metropolitan area (which includes Clark and Skamania counties in Washington, along with Yamhill and Columbia counties in Oregon). This is despite the fact that one of the most important objectives of Metro's land use and transportation policies is to strengthen the urban core and to discourage suburbanization (a phenomenon urban planning theologians call "sprawl").
“Anemic Job Creation: Jobs have simply not been created in Portland's core. Since 2001, downtown employment has declined by 3,000 jobs, according to the Portland Business Alliance. In Multnomah County, Portland's urban core and close-by surrounding communities, 20,000 jobs were lost between 2001 and 2009. Even during the prosperous years of 2000 to 2006, Multnomah County lost jobs. Suburban Washington and Clackamas counties gained jobs, but their contribution fell 12,000 jobs short of making up for Multnomah County's loss. The real story has been Clark County (the county seat is Vancouver), across the I-5 Interstate Bridge in neighboring Washington and outside Metro's jurisdiction. Clark County generated 13,000 net new jobs between 2001 and 2009.”