Urban Growth Boundary (UGB)

Oregon has a very special land use program, which provides a framework for cities and counties to plan for population growth using the principles of compact development to meet the needs of urban areas (cities) while protecting farm and forest land. Urban growth boundaries (UGBs) are an essential tool of this program, and every city in Oregon is required by state law to have one.

If the city limits mark the boundary of each city, the UGB is a larger boundary that includes the city limits and additional land identified for accommodating the next 20 years of population growth with land for homes, jobs and public land like parks and schools. Urban services can only be provided within the UGB, and as land is developed in more intense, urban ways, it is brought into the city limits.

The Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) is the state agency that coordinates the process for identifying what the expected need for those uses is. Whenever cities determine that they need a larger UGB to meet their 20 year land need, the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC), which oversees DLCD, has to approve the location and amount of land brought into the UGB.


Many of the conversations about Envision Eugene center on “adopting the UGB.” But what is a UGB? Why do we have one? What goes into adopting it? This page covers some of the big picture questions about what the UGB has to do with Envision Eugene. For more details, see the More on the Urban Growth Boundary sidebar.

How and why is our UGB changing?

History – Since 1982, Eugene and Springfield have shared a common UGB, evaluating and meeting the land needs of the entire Eugene-Springfield metropolitan area as a unit. Then, in 2007, the State of Oregon mandated that Eugene and Springfield each establish its own UGB to accommodate projected population growth.

Process – The process of establishing a Eugene-specific UGB is a rather complicated one with many overlapping steps. We have had to identify:

  1. How much land we need for 20 years of population growth in terms of housing, jobs and public land,
  2. How much of that land we already have inside the UGB (either vacant or underutilized), and
  3. How we are going to make up any difference (by using the land we have more efficiently, by bringing new land into the UGB or a combination)

All of the steps above are based on a combination of community discussions about what is important to community members and analysis of data.

Outcome – At the end of this process, Eugene’s UGB will change in three important ways:

  1. Eugene’s UGB will be distinct from Springfield’s UGB
  2. Eugene’s UGB will become parcel-specific, more clearly defining which properties are inside and outside of Eugene’s UGB
  3. Eugene’s UGB will expand to meet the anticipated need for jobs, parks and schools


What is the latest on the Eugene UGB?

The current recommendation for the urban growth boundary is based on City Council direction on January 2015 (jobs, parks and schools) and July 20, 2015 (housing). For more information, see a map of the current recommendation and a detailed account of UGB analysis and decision-making process.

Housing - The Council direction for housing is to establish the urban growth boundary with no expansion for housing at this time, commit the City to monitor and report on growth assumptions and outcomes, improve the land use code for needed housing development, and begin urban reserves planning for longer term (30 to 50 years) population growth.

Jobs, Parks and Schools- The Council direction for jobs, parks and schools is to expand the urban growth boundary in the Clear Lake area for a combination of jobs (648 acres), schools (54 acres), and parks (222 acres); and in the Santa Clara area for parks (35 acres).

Proposed Expansion Areas

How does the UGB relate to adopting our UGB?

The Urban Growth Boundary Adoption Package is the collection of legally required documents to formally set (adopt) the UGB.

These documents serve two primary functions. First of all, they show why we are setting the UGB in the proposed location. This includes information about how much we expect to grow in terms of people, homes, jobs, and public land like parks and schools. It also includes information about the precise location of the UGB, including the proposed expansion, and why that new land was selected.

Secondly, the Adoption Package includes information about how we will meet our 20-year land need with the UGB. This includes policies and land use code that go beyond how much land is in the UGB to look at how that land can be used or developed.

Because these documents are focused on showing the state that we are meeting our responsibilities in accordance with state law, most of the language in these documents is both legal and extremely detailed.

All documents in the UGB Adoption Package are related to the urban growth boundary.


How does the UGB relate to Envision Eugene: Vision to Action?

Envision Eugene: Vision to Action is an upcoming set of four documents that present the outcome of the Envision Eugene process and complementary ways to make the community vision a reality. The 2015 working drafts of all four documents are available here.

The urban growth boundary has a major role in several of these documents.

The Community Vision explores the history, the values, and the goals that inform how and where Eugene should grow, which laid an important foundation for decisions about the UGB.

The Comprehensive Plan is the state-mandated land use policy plan for the City of Eugene. It will include the final adopted UGB, and policies aimed at providing sufficient land within the UGB for specific uses, including jobs, housing, parks and schools.

The Urban Form Plan presents both local context and best practices to guide and inform the built environment in Eugene. Although the Urban Form Plan provides guidance that can enhance local development, it is not directly tied to the determination of the UGB.

The Action Plan lays out specific steps to achieve the goals of Envision Eugene. Many of these actions are directly tied to meeting our need for land within the UGB in ways that align with the pillars of Envision Eugene, such as adopting zoning changes to accommodate more jobs and homes inside the UGB and expanding the UGB for jobs, parks and schools.


What else might I want to know about the UGB?

When are we going to adopt the UGB?

Because the adoption process takes some time, and involves both the City of Eugene and Lane County (since the UGB defines the planning boundary for the jurisdictions), we expect the formal adoption process to conclude in 2017.

 How often will we update the UGB? 

Many Oregon cities review their UGB and land need every 5-10 years, depending on how big they are and how fast they are growing. Eugene’s new Growth Monitoring Program will allow us to track growth on an ongoing basis, and update the UGB as needed. Changes in the population projections from 2012 to 2015 suggest that we may need to revisit the UGB sooner than five years if those projections hold.

This UGB adoption is more complicated than most, because we are splitting the Eugene-Springfield Metro UGB into two new UGBs, which adds a one-time process that will not be a part of future updates.

How do 20-minute neighborhoods relate to the UGB?

20-minute neighborhoods are a way of measuring how many destinations people can comfortably access within a 20-minute walk of their home (or any other starting point). In addition to supporting livability, sustainability, and equity issues, these strategies help us use land more efficiently, and can reduce our need to expand the urban growth boundary.