In recent decades, the Portland Metropolitan region and the City of Portland experienced a steady increase in population. In 1980, the city’s population was about 368,000 residents. By 2011, the population has grown to nearly 585,000 residents. In another 25 years, how many people will live on Portland’s nearly 93,000 acres? Where in the city will people choose to live? What kinds of jobs will Portlanders have?
According to regional forecasts, Portland is projected to gain 105,000 to 136,000 new households by 2035 (an annual percent rate change of 1.2 percent – 1.6 percent). This translates into a need for 3,500 – 4,500 new housing units each year. For context, approximately 48,000 new dwellings were built in Portland between 1996 and 2009. During the most recent housing boom (2004 – 2008) growth rates reached approximately 4,500 new dwellings each year.
Regional forecasts also suggest there will be a 25-year demand for development (or redevelopment) of 3,200 – 4,100 acres of employment land by 2035.
What is the BLI?
The Buildable Lands Inventory (BLI) helps us begin to understand what these forecasts might mean for Portland. Do our zoning and regulations allow for the development needed to accommodate the projected household and job growth? What are the factors that will shape where that change is most pronounced? To help answer this question, the City of Portland uses a computer model to project “development capacity.” Development capacity is defined as the likely number of new dwelling units or jobs that could be accommodated in the city under existing regulations, assuming existing infrastructure and physical constraints, and assuming the continuation of recent market trends. Development of this inventory is a state-mandated exercise, and part of Periodic Review Work Plan.