• evaluation methods;
  • geographic information system;
  • growth management;
  • urban growth boundaries;
  • urban sprawl

Although the literature on growth management is extensive, few researchers have explored policy-oriented evaluation methodologies. This article develops a new methodology to measure urban sprawl in order to evaluate the geographical effects of urban growth boundaries in Pierce County, Washington. The methodology utilizes residential building permit data from 1991 to 2002 that were put into a geographic information system and geocoded to the Pierce County street centerline file. The results of our study indicate that since the establishment in 1995 of urban growth boundaries there has been a substantial increase in the clustering of residential permits inside those boundaries. The implications of these findings are important for planning practitioners and the evaluation of growth management policies throughout the United States and elsewhere.