Lake Oswego Review, September 18, 2014 Editorial
The prevailing sentiment among urban planners is that the Portland area is headed toward — and would benefit from — a denser future where more residents are living in condominiums, apartments and townhouses.
However, a recent survey of the people who live in this region ought to provide a splash of cold water on those notions. It turns out that only a small number of Portland-area residents want to live in such close quarters. Surprising or not, most people prefer to reside in a single-family, detached home — and, shockingly, a plurality even prefer the suburbs. (See story, Page A2.)
The survey was commissioned by the Metro regional government, which should be commended for its willingness to ask important questions. Now, however, the Metro council and staff must give serious consideration to the survey’s findings. Clearly, this survey challenges Metro’s narrative that the Portland area must continue to grow through infill and avoid expansion around the edges.
The results of the recent survey are not ambiguous when it comes to the housing preferences of Portland-area residents. Four out of five Portland metropolitan residents said they wanted to live in single-family, detached homes. Only 13 percent prefer an apartment or condo, and just 7 percent prefer a single-family attached home, such as a rowhouse or townhouse.
Metro officials might be tempted to ignore or explain away the overwhelming preference for single-family homes. If they accept the survey’s findings, it will be difficult for them to illustrate how the region can stay within its current urban boundaries.
Nonetheless, if the Metro council’s charge is to represent its constituents, it must take into account their housing preferences, or it will place at risk the public’s long-standing support for regional planning and conscientious land use.