01/12/2010 10:31 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Urban Growth Boundary: Agriculture, Economy, and Managed Growth (VIDEO)

2010-01-12-ruralroad.jpgPart 1: In physics, the second law of thermodynamics, which deals with the natural flow of energy distribution (no, you won't be tested on this part), stipulates that localized "systems," (think of an ice cube melting), will disperse outward, unless a counter force is applied to contain it. In population centers of the country, urban sprawl and resource depletion are the natural consequences of increasing populations (the melting ice cube), unless countervailing forces (land use laws) are effectively applied to manage growth, and protect finite resources. In biology, uncontrolled growth is known as cancer, and cities and states across the U.S. that have forsaken a coordinated approach toward long range urban planning, have been stricken by the effects of sprawl, to varying degrees impacting the local environment, and the quality of life for effected communities.

Oregon is among the very few states, and the Portland area, of the even fewer major metro areas, that have for decades effectively fought back the forces of development, and resisted converting ever more parcels of urban land for re-zoning to industrial and commercial use, overemployed in other places under the banner of job creation and the promise of wider economic prosperity. Since the 1970's, growth in the Portland area has been confined within carefully crafted boundaries, the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), outside of which, urban growth was not allowed to occur.

CUpS sat down with Jim Johnson, land use planner for the Oregon Department of Agriculture, to discuss the Reserves Process, how the land use laws in Oregon came into being, and what they are designed to accomplish. This is part of an ongoing Food News series that will examine Oregon's land use measures, including a more in-depth look at the Reserves Process itself, and the possible long-term impacts of these new land designations on local farms, and urban agriculture in the region.

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