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Urban and rural reserves

Current activites Background 2008-2012 2014-2016 Links Documents

Recent and upcoming activities

Board of County Commissioners Policy Session, Jan. 17, 2017

Joint Letter from Metro Council President Tom Hughes and County Commission Chair Jim Bernard, Jan. 24, 2017

County Community Forum on Stafford Reserves – 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 23; Athey Creek Middle School, 2900 SW Borland Rd., West Linn

Conditions for future urbanization of Stafford urban reserves, memo from Clackamas County Administrator Don Krupp and Metro Chief Operating Officer Martha Bennett, Feb. 22, 2017

Metro Council Meeting with public hearing on urban and rural reserves, 2-5 p.m., Thursday, March 2, Metro Regional Center, 600 NE Grand Ave., Portland
Staff report

Metro Council Meeting, including consideration of adoption of urban and rural reserves designation in response to remand – 2 p.m., Thursday, March 16; Council Chambers, Metro Regional Center, 600 NE Grand Ave., Portland

Metro Council Meeting, including consideration of adoption of urban and rural reserves designation in response to remand – 2 p.m. Thursday, March 23; Council Chambers, Metro Regional Center, 600 NE Grand Ave., Portland

Board of County Commissioners Land Use Public Hearing on Consideration of Adopting Urban and Rural Reserves Designations in Response to Remand – 6 p.m., Wednesday, April 12; 4th floor public hearing room, Public Services Building, 2051 Kaen Rd., Oregon City


What are reserves?

What is the purpose of reserves?

Urban and rural reserves are designed to shape what our region will look like over the next 40-50 years. Reserves are intended to determine the long-term disposition of farmland and natural areas, and provide predictability about the location of future urban growth to inform future expansions of the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB).

The Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) divides areas planned for urban development and distinguishes them from areas planned for rural uses. In the Portland Metropolitan Area, the regional government (Metro) is responsible for adopting the UGB and ensuring that it contains sufficient buildable land to meet projected growth.

Before 2008, state land use laws required Metro to consider current zoning (based largely on soil quality) above everything else to determine where to expand the UGB. Many people felt that, because this approach didn’t address important issues such as available infrastructure, topography, etc., it didn’t result in expansion in areas best suited for developing healthy, vibrant urban communities.

In 2007, the Oregon legislature enacted a law (Senate Bill 1011) that allowed the three Portland area counties (Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington) and Metro to work together to establish urban reserves based on an expanded list of factors. Rural reserves were also allowed in order to provide long-term protection to the most valuable and financially viable farms and commercial forests, and to protect from urban development such significant natural features such as wetlands, rivers and floodplains, buttes and savannas.


From 2008 to 2010, Metro and Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties worked with the public to identify urban reserve and rural reserve lands to serve the region for the next 50 years.

Each county designated its own rural reserve lands. Metro designated urban reserve lands throughout the metropolitan area.

On February 25, 2010, the Board of County Commissioners approved an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with Metro to designate 13,750 acres of urban reserves and 70,500 acres of rural reserves in Clackamas County for the next 50 years. (Multnomah and Washington counties approved IGAs with Metro the same week.) This action was followed in March and April 2010 by Planning Commission and the Board of County Commissioners approval of changes to the County’s Comprehensive Plan to implement the reserves. In May 2010, the Board approved a revised IGA.

In response to an oral remand from the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, reserves designations in Metro and Washington County were revised early in 2011 followed by an appeal of the regional Reserves decision to the Oregon Court of Appeals.


February 2014: A ruling from the Oregon Court of Appeals changed some of the urban and rural reserves designated by Metro and the three counties in 2010 and 2011, and affected the urban growth boundary adjustment made by Metro in 2011.

Spring 2014: The state legislature (House Bill 4078) established new urban and rural reserves and adjusted the urban growth boundary in Washington County. The bill did not address issues raised by the Court of Appeals about a proposed rural reserve in western Multnomah County and a proposed urban reserve in the Stafford area of Clackamas County.

Providing flexibility for future employment lands
In 2016 the county reviewed three rural reserve areas (listed below) to determine if it would be beneficial for long-term economic growth and job creation to change the designation of all or part of these areas to “undesignated.”

Rural reserves open houses, June 2016

More than 400 people attended open houses, which included the following materials (all are pdf).


The urban and rural reserves process took years of study, meetings, research, public hearings and technical work involving a public committee, staff committee, the Planning Commission, the Board of County Commissioners, regional groups and dialogue with the general community.

For more information, contact Martha Fritzie, 503-742-4529.

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