Portland is often called the model of a well-planned city. This is doubtless a consequence of Oregons practical land-use policies, especially the 1974 set-up of an urban growth boundary. This move conserved land in the style of farming practices of the 1800s. This was uncharacteristic in a period when many areas neglected their major cities for expansion along highways, satellite cities and suburbs.
However, there are real estate investors and developers who do not quite concur with the urban growth boundary. They reason that the boundary has been a double-edged sword. In other words, it has given not only benefits, but a stark rise in housing costs. Yet housing costs are distinctly less than in metropolitan areas in Washington and California. Furthermore, the inhabitants enjoy the benefits of a compact area that has a well-organized public transportation system and less traffic.
The thickly inhabited parts of Portland are rather uneven, with the West Hills bordering the west side, while the east is much flatter and spans about 170 blocks until Gresham. They stretch from the start of East Portland to the periphery of Greshams suburbs. Beyond that lies rural Multnomah County.
Greater parts of inner Portland, as well as downtown Portland, have narrow streets and compact city blocks. Each block is 60m square. Twenty separate combined blocks, each measuring 80m long, align one mile of road. Most streets are 20m wide; the mix of narrow streets and compact blocks makes downtown Portland pedestrian-friendly.