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Land use planning has always been a discrete or lumpy process, in part because land use decisions are interdependent, costly to reverse, and often involve large, indivisible investments in public infrastructure. In this context, planning support systems (PSS) are essential for the success of land use planning. One of the popular PSSs is land monitoring systems (see textbook, page 203) that contain an inventory of existing land use and an inventory of land available for future development.

Imagine that a region will use urban growth boundaries (UGBs) as a development control instrument. Planners could implement such development control in two types of land monitoring systems:

  1. Time-driven system: this system has been used by the State of Oregon. Under this system, UGBs must contain enough developable land to accommodate urban growth for a 20-year (or 10-year) period and must be re-examined, as part of process of periodic review, every 4 to 7 years. Urban area growth projections must be based on existing densities or the density of development that occurred since the last periodic review. This means the UGBs could be expanded every 4 to 7 years.
  1. Event-driven system: Under this system, UGBs are expanded not at predetermined times, but when the number of developable acres inside the UGB reaches a predetermined level of inventory-the reorder trigger level. For example, planners could set the reorder trigger level at 30,000 acres. This means that UGBs will be expanded when the area size of developable land within the UGBs falls below 30,000 acres.


So the questions are:

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of each approach? Do you think one of them is better than the other?
  • For event-driven systems, the determination of the reorder trigger level is a tricky task. What are the factors you would consider if you are asked to set the level?

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