Urban growth boundaries are a zoning tool cities and states utilize to concentrate growth, protect open space, and guide growth toward existing infrastructure and services. Urban growth boundaries limit and define urbanization, for a specified time period. During that time the city may not annex land or extend services to lands outside the boundary.
One of the earliest, and most studied, examples of state mandated urban growth boundaries is Oregon. In 1973, the state passed legislation requiring every city in the state to create urban growth boundaries.2 The legislation stressed planning for both population growth and economic development while preserving community character and retaining agricultural lands. Regional entities, like the Columbia Region Association of Governments in metropolitan Portland, took requisite action. In coordination with local governments, the association created boundaries based on the capacity of existing and projected twenty- year sewer service. In all, these boundaries encompassed over 234,000 acres, including three counties and twenty-four cities.3 While these measures have have detractors. urban growth boundaries in Oregon have been a proven success. Large areas of farmland and forests at the urban fringe have been spared from development, downtown Portland has been revitalized, and population growth has been accommodated.4
It should be noted that the success of urban growth boundary programs is not contingent upon the top down style governance displayed in Oregon. At the local level, and increasingly common in the Bay Area, urban growth boundaries have been implemented in many communities. Many of these urban growth boundaries have been implemented by voter approval. With the exception of Cloverdale, every city in Sonoma County has twenty-year Urban Growth Boundaries. The Sonoma County General Plan is supportive of urban growth boundaries, stating that “concentrated growth allows greater efficiency and economy in providing public services, conserves agriculture and resource lands, and preserves the rural character desired by many of the county's residents.” In 1998 Petaluma residents approved an urban growth boundary with an overwhelming majority. This twenty year boundary, only amenable by voter, has concentrated development and preserved hillsides from development.
The creation of an urban growth boundary is a stated goal of the city of Cloverdale. Adopted by the City Council on 13 May 2009, Resolution 22-2009 updated the city’s General Plan specifying the need to develop and enact an urban growth boundary. Resolution 031-2010 is implementation of that goal.
As noted by Florida land use analyst Marie York, Urban Growth Boundaries “promote a more compact, contiguous urban development”.5 Building homes, businesses, and public facilities within the city’s existing urban fabric will keep resources where people currently live. Cloverdale’s Urban Growth Boundary will encourage “infill” development on sites...