Oregon law requires each county to prepare and update coordinated population forecasts for cities within the county. The population forecasts provide critical data for land use planning across the state, allowing communities to manage the demand for new land and evaluate development capacity. Historically, only half of Oregon counties were able to meet state requirements for population forecasting, largely due to resource limitations. Population forecasts were also the subject of frequent legal challenges, further depleting county resources.
In response to these challenges, the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, in concert with the League of Oregon Cities and the Association of Oregon Counties, engaged Oregon Consensus to convene a forum of stakeholders to explore issues related to population forecasting and to explore potential solutions. The group reached consensus on solutions, which were advanced by House Bill 2253. The bill – adopted by the 2013 Legislature with almost unanimous support – replaced the current population forecasting system with a simplified system that will reduce costs for local governments and ensure that cities and counties are using the best available population data for their land use planning.
HB 2253 consolidated efforts by transferring population forecasting responsibilities to the Population Research Center at Portland State University. The center will issue a forecast for each city and county every four years. To ensure that local governments have input into the population forecasts, the center will confer with affected cities and counties, and will provide an opportunity for local governments to challenge the forecast administratively.