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Cities Must Bend Over & Accept Population Growth

One of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., Bend, Oregon has doubled in population over the past two decades. Still, it has at least some intelligent thinking about growth. Our newest episode of the GrowthBusters podcast explores urban growth. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, or Stitcher so you never miss an episode.

Podcast co-host Kaitlyn Hickmann invited her dad to join us in this discussion of how cities manage population growth. Bend Oregon’s director of engineering and infrastructure planning,Tom Hickmann shares the fast-growing city’s somewhat unique approach to city planning, and discusses Oregon’s requirement that cities accommodate growth. According to Tom, cities get challenged if they have a “pattern and practice of rejecting growth.”

Central Oregon economic development come-on

Image from homepage of Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO)

So, even though Oregon has some progressive laws, policies and thinking about protecting its beautiful natural environment, the growth industry has still wielded considerable power in the formation of growth management policy. A city’s approach to growth is complicated, and Tom gets into some of the interesting nuance.

He also shares the newest infrastructure planning tool, genetic algorithms, explaining how it allows cities to plan better and grow more efficiently. Planners can put the values of the environmental, development, engineering and general residential communities into this planning model to guide a community’s decisions. It sounds pretty fascinating.

In the podcast I propose that perhaps unaffordable housing can be a good thing – ultimately influencing couples to limit the number of children they conceive. Tom’s not really buying it. Kaitlyn, Ben and I also share some of our own methods of shrinking our footprints – related to showers, wardrobe and coffee. Check out my disappointing story about airport coffee shops.

Subscribe and review if you want to make it easier for others to discover our podcast series. Thanks!

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