Growth Management and Population

Growth management refers to actions taken by a city, county, or other jurisdiction to plan for and influence how population growth and development patterns occur over time. These actions do not control growth, but can guide the way it occurs over time. Oregon is often considered a pioneer in growth management because of our statewide land use program.
Growth management emerged in response to the consequences of not planning for growth, such as sprawling development, lost farm and forest land, unsustainable costs to provide city services, and for many cities that tried to avoid growth, a skyrocketing cost of living. Growth management seeks to balance the need to plan for projected increases in population with strategies that guide growth in ways that benefit the community as a whole, for example by fostering 20-minute neighborhoods.
Beyond the number of people that growth management strategies try to account for, we also look at the characteristics of those people. Demographic trends help us plan for the different needs and expectations of people of different ages, backgrounds, income levels, household types and job sectors.

For Eugene, population projections from Portland State University indicate an increase of around 34,000 additional people by 2032. About half of that increase is expected to be from local births, and about half from people moving to Eugene from other places. Envision Eugene helps to plan for this population growth through a variety of plans and documents that apply different strategies for growing thoughtfully while maintaining alignment with our community values.


Envision Eugene includes policies, strategies and a vision for how Eugene will grow in the future, which is often referred to as “growth management.” This page covers some of the big picture questions about what growth management and population have to do with Envision Eugene. For more details, see the More on Growth Management sidebar.

How do we plan for growth management and population shifts?

Population forecasts –

In order to help cities plan for their expected growth, the State of Oregon uses population forecasts coordinated by Portland State University. The previous forecasting system was completed on an as-needed basis at the county level and then coordinated among the cities. Under this system, the population forecast projects Eugene’s population to grow by 34,000 people between 2012 and 2032. This population forecast has been the basis for all Envision Eugene analysis beginning with the 2012 Recommendation.


In 2015, PSU began using a new forecasting system which will be conducted every four years for cities and counties and will include a 20 and 50 year forecast. This new forecast, which will be used for future growth management planning, projects a population increase for Eugene of around 40,000 people between 2015 and 2035 (20 years), and around 90,000 people between 2015 and 2065 (50 years). These forecasts are used by cities to determine how they will meet land needs in their urban growth boundary for that time period.


Demographic trends –

As a desirable community to live in, Eugene has continued to grow over the past several decades. While we expect that trend to continue, other trends are shifting.

  • Certain age ranges are growing. Consistent with national and state trends, the percentage of the population over 65 years of age has rapidly grown and this trend is expected to continue. At the same time, the large student population at the University of Oregon has and will continue to keep our percentage of 20-29 year-olds higher than average.
  • We are becoming more diverse. Eugene’s ethnic distribution shows a strong trend towards more minorities, which is expected to continue.

Demographic and other trends impact people’s housing choices and what housing we plan for including the types of homes, how many homes and housing tenure (renter/owner). It also impacts how we plan for the number and types of jobs we plan for.


The Envision Eugene Pillars  –

Although the numbers and data above provide a baseline for how much we expect to grow as a community, the community values, laid out in the Envision Eugene Pillars, have an equally strong influence on how we will manage that growth. Community conversations had a tremendous impact on decisions about where and how much to expand the UGB, and how to address changes within the UGB.


What is the latest on Eugene's growth management and population?

The Plans – 
The City of Eugene has had growth management goals and policies since the 1960’s. Some have been specific to Eugene, while others have been regional. Envision Eugene: Vision to Action is specific to Eugene and includes a community-developed vision and values to guide growth management, Eugene-specific comprehensive planning goals and policies, design guidelines to help development contribute to a high quality of life, and more detailed actions to both achieve the vision and monitor changing trends.

The UGB – 
Eugene’s urban growth boundary, with the exception of two minor expansions, has remained essentially unchanged since its establishment in 1982. This has been a reflection of the community’s compact development goals. These goals are reflected in Envision Eugene, with commercial and housing needs met within the current UGB. Three types of land use needs (employment, parks and schools) are proposed to be partially met through a modest UGB expansion, though the majority of the need can be met within the current UGB.
The Forecasts – 

Population forecasts are the baseline for much of the growth management analysis. Envision Eugene uses the population forecasts developed by PSU in 2009, which were the most recent forecasts as of 2012. The 2009 forecast projected an additional 34,000 people in Eugene between 2012 and 2032. In 2015, PSU released new population forecasts, which will be used in future analysis and updates to the UGB, as well as the development of urban reserves. Urban reserves use 50-year population forecasts to identify strategic areas for possible UGB expansions.

How do growth management and population relate to adopting our UGB?

The Urban Growth Boundary Adoption Package is the collection of legally required documents to formally set (adopt) the UGB. Growth management is the very purpose of the UGB, and the population forecasts and trends are the baseline for the analysis in these documents.


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 growth management and population.


How do growth management and population 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.


Growth management and the population are foundational to all of these documents.


The Community Vision explores the history, the values, and the goals that inform how Eugene should manage growth, including questions of how much, where, and why.


The Comprehensive Plan is the state-mandated land use policy plan for the City of Eugene. It will include key growth management strategies, such as the final adopted UGB and policies guiding City actions around land use.


The Urban Form Plan presents both local context and best practices to guide and inform the built environment in Eugene. This looks for ways not just to avoid using unnecessary land, but help that use meet our broader community goals as effectively as possible.


The Action Plan lays out specific steps to achieve the goals of Envision Eugene. These actions are the tools for both using land efficiently and enhancing our local quality of life. The Growth Monitoring Program within the Action Plan specifically addresses the need to regularly review population and other trends that impact how and where we grow.


What else might I want to know about growth management and population?

What has Eugene’s actual growth looked like in the past?

The first chart below shows Eugene’s population from 1960 to our projected 2032 population. The 2012 population of 180,915 is highlighted for reference. Although the population of Eugene has consistently increased over the decades, the amount it has grown has varied over time. The second chart shows that we are planning for somewhat less population growth in the next 20 years than we have seen in the past.

Population total
Population added