2017 Working Group: Containing Urban Expansion Using “Boundaries” in the Era of Rapid Urbanization

Containing Urban Expansion Using “Boundaries” in the Era of Rapid Urbanization
Yizhao Yang, Associate Professor of Planning, Public Policy and Management, University of Oregon.

In the past several decades much of the urban expansion around the world has taken the urban-sprawl pattern characterized with relatively low land-use mixture and low land-use efficiency. Governments at various levels, community, region, and country, start recognizing the need for effective management strategies to contain urban growth in spatial terms and to properly guide urban development to minimize environmental costs. China, in particular, after witnessing 160% increase in its urban developed areas from 1990-2010, a speed outpacing its urban population growth, began integrating language controlling urban expansion in its national planning laws for urban development and land use. Around the world, governments have experimented with various policies and strategies aimed at urban containment. Among those policies, “boundaries”, in the form of urban development boundaries (e.g., urban growth boundaries, urban service area boundaries, urban ecological boundaries, etc), appear a popular approach that has been widely employed in many places.

This working group invited scholars from the US, China, South Korea, and Australia to discuss urban-containment policies with a particular emphasis on the “boundary” approach. The questions addressed included:
  • Have those boundaries really held the line?
  • What the critical factors that are considered having ensured or undermined the effectiveness of the boundaries?
  • How can the “boundary” be transferrable across places and contexts?