Eight years after Happy Valley incorporated, in 1973, the Oregon legislature passed Senate Bill 100.  Considered a landmark piece of legislation throughout the country, the bill established a statewide land use planning program.  At the time, Oregon Governor Tom McCall and many others wanted to ensure Oregon’s natural beauty, lush forests, and fertile farm land didn’t face pressure to urbanize with abandon.  As a result of Senate Bill 100, Oregon established several statewide planning goals, applicable to every city, that require:

  • Citizen involvement in the local planning process
  • Local land use decisions be made in accordance with a comprehensive plan based on factual information
  • Protection of natural resources, farm lands, and forests
  • Diversification of employment lands
  • Wide array of housing types
  • Provision of efficient public facilities and services such as water, sewer, and roads

Most notably, Senate Bill 100 set in motion the establishment of urban growth boundaries around every city and metro region.  In 1978, voters in the Portland region created Metro to provide regional land use and transportation planning services.  One of the first tasks Metro took on was establishing an Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) around the metro area.  This boundary stretched from Forest Grove to Gresham and North Portland to Wilsonville.  It also included parts of Happy Valley. Since 1978, the UGB has been expanded six times to increase urban land near Hillsboro, Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin, Sherwood, Wilsonville, and Oregon City.  Three times, the expansion included land around Happy Valley to include sections along Sunnyside Road, the land that is now home to City Hall and Happy Valley Town Center, land east of 145th Avenue, along with the boundaries of the City of Damascus.

The intent of the UGB is to promote the use of land within the boundary while protecting farm land and forests outside the boundary. Based on regulations set forth in state law, the UGB may only be expanded if the existing land inside the boundary cannot support employment and housing needs for the next 20 years.  Even then, the expansion areas must be targeted towards land less suitable for farm and forest uses.  While much of Happy Valley inside the UGB was able to remain rural in character for decades, pressure kept mounting until land owners and developers reached a price tipping point. With land available for development inside the UGB, Happy Valley is able to accommodate additional growth, and in turn, minimize the need for further sprawl outside the boundary.

If you’d like to learn more about the UGB, visit http://www.oregonmetro.gov/urban-growth-boundary.