Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

John A. Lewis, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

W. Timothy Austin, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Jennifer J. Roberts, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Richard J. Hoch, Ph.D.


There has been much research written on the negative aspects associated with sprawl, such as crime, the flight of people and businesses to the suburbs, and resulting inner-city decay. However, there is a dearth of information on the effects of limiting sprawl and crime. The objective of this research was to examine the impact of an urban growth boundary (UGB) that limits uncontrolled sprawl on crime rates in Portland, Oregon. UCR data from 1975-1997 was utilized to measure the impact. Crime impacts were analyzed with time-series analysis for property crime, violent crime, and overall crime indexes. Vancouver, Washington crime data was used as a comparison group. Other smaller cities within the UGB in the Portland area also were analyzed. The results show significant increases in violent, property, and the overall crime rates in Portland. There also were significant increases in crime rates in the comparison city of Vancouver. The smaller cities showed a significant decrease in violent crimes after the implementation of the urban growth boundary, with property crimes increasing slightly. This legal impact study does provide results that can be interpreted through both ecological theories and routine activities theory. It would appear that the benefits of the urban growth boundary may be felt in the Oregon cities surrounding Portland.