Optimizing land-use to make Oregon livable.

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Oregon has the nation’s most restrictive, statewide land-use regulatory system. Most private land is zoned for either “exclusive farm use” or “exclusive forestry use”, which severely limits the ability of property owners to develop lands in accordance with basic market principles.

In addition, state law requires “urban growth boundaries” around all cities, designed to limit urban expansion. Changing these boundaries to accommodate population growth is a slow and expensive process.

The result of this over-regulation is a de facto cartel of landowners with developable land, enforced by the government. This has created a shortage of land available for housing in many parts of the state. With the cost of buildable land skyrocketing, it has become impossible to build “starter homes” or moderately-priced apartment complexes in most cities.

In response to the government-caused housing crisis, many elected leaders have promoted policies such as rent control. Unfortunately, these policies can only make the housing problem worse by discouraging new private investment in housing.

Cascade Policy Institute promotes reforms to the land-use regulatory system that will allow real estate markets to function properly. Needed reforms include prohibitions on rental price controls, relaxation (or repeal) of urban growth boundary regulations, and greater flexibility in farm and forestland regulation.

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