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Tag Archives: land use

Idaho to Sell Lands to Protect Others

Idaho is aiming to protect ranchland and wild lands with a new land trust, but to fund it, the state wants to auction off more than 30 pieces of land, including some historic ranches within wilderness. State officials say the sales would probably go to federal land agencies, not wealthy landowners looking for a trophy ranch. Still, environmentalists are skeptical. "The last things we want to see is more no trespassing signs on our favorite fishing holes," John Robison, of the Idaho Conservation League, told the Associated Press. The Department of Fish and Game drafted a list of over 30 "surplus properties" to sell off to build an endowment for the trust, including several in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. Ranches range from a fraction of an acre to 20,000 acres in the Panhanlde National Forest. In return, the state hopes to protect key ranches and forest land. It's planning a round of workshops starting in July for residents to identify spots they'd like to see protected. Also in Grok: Open space in Missoula; monster homes in Boulder; ultra-modern or ultra-ugly in Edwards, Colo.? Read More »

Measure 37 Means Condos and … Compromise?

We haven’t heard much about Measure 37 recently, but that’s not because much isn’t going on — it is, and the biggest pieces of this fractured story are the least obvious. First, to the obvious: Measure 37 is about the money. The money that landowners claim they’ve lost or will lose by the state or counties barring them from developing. The money that lures forestry companies to turn from logging to condos. And the money that farmers, house-holders and others with what they see as presently useless or excess land are costing the rest of us with their claims. Claims may be totally legit (though numerous ones in Hood River County, at least, have asked to make developments that were never allowed under their original zoning), but they take public time to assess. That’s cost Wasco County, for one, several thousand dollars; and the real impact will come with the May rush, of some 30 claims to assess, according to The Dalles Chronicle. Wasco County doesn’t charge landowner claimants for its planners’ time. Hood River County, with many more claims, does; but nowhere near enough to pay for their efforts. Measure 37 presently accounts for an estimated 70 percent of the planning staff’s time — and the fees the county charges cover less than 10 percent of the planning budget... Read More »

Coffee Talk About Land Rights, Development

I’ve often said (to the poor souls too slow or too polite to escape my opinionating) that how we use our land is the great Western issue of this time. What does that mean, precisely? Well, that depends on how you ask the questions. If you ask, “What will we have left if we allow everyone to build anything anywhere?” you’ll get a different take than if you ask, “What right does the government have to tell me I can’t use my land?” Hood River’s own Columbia Gorge Earth Center has taken a stab at this most-pressing debate: “How much control should the public have over the use of privately held land?” That’s the topic for a CGEC-organized debate between Steven B. Andersen and Jeff Hunter coming up on Monday, Feb. 26. The talk is free, open to the public and will be held at Dog River Coffee (411 Oak Street, Hood River). Starts at 7:30 p.m., and promises to be considerably more substantial than most coffee-house chatter... Read More »

“Insert Crazy Scheme Here”

We’ve posted a number of land-use articles and rants here on New West Columbia Gorge. How we use our land and water, how we elucidate property rights — all these things together form, after all, one of the most vital stories in Oregon and the West. Perhaps this coverage has driven some gentle readers to conclude that we are pro-planning and pro-government. For the sake of balance — and not a little amusement — we present the Antiplanner, “dedicated to the sunset of government planning.” It is a new blog, and promises to be... interesting. (“Insert crazy scheme here”!) Read More »

Oregon Legislature Adds Measure 37 “Fairness” Committee

Senator Floyd Prozanski may have one of the hottest seats in the Oregon Senate -- if not the state -- when the 2007 legislature convenes in Salem on Monday. Committee assignments handed out December 15 tapped Prozanski, a Eugene Democrat representing District 4 in southern Lane and northern Douglas counties, to chair the Special Senate Committee on Land Use Fairness. The committee was created due to widespread concern over Measure 37, the property rights law that requires compensation for value lost to regulation, or waiver of the regulation. Many believe that thousands of Measure 37 claims statewide, nearly half of them filed in the weeks before an initial deadline Dec. 4, could create far more rural residential development than Oregon voters expected, or intended, when they approved the initiative 61 to 39 percent in 2004. On the other hand, the measure itself was about fairness, a response to restrictive land-use laws against which proponents bridled. Among those concerned over the law’s outcomes — enough to have formed a semi-secretive group to work on the issue nine months ago -- is Governor Ted Kulongoski. The Governor announced "his" group back in March, and unveiled his evolving intentions in an October 13 letter to the Oregon Land Use Task Force (the "Big Look"), saying he had “directed his staff to draft … a legislative concept with the expectation that it be introduced” in the 2007 session... Read More »

Western Legislation Stalls in Congress’ Lame Duck Session

As the 109th Congress winds down, the chances of federal legislation that affects the Rocky Mountain region wanes, too. But no action can be good news, too. The New York Times reported today that bill to add a fourth U.S. House seat for Utah won't be acted on this year, as GOP House leaders declared that piece of legislation dead. Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. said the work Utah did to create a fourth congressional district is not for naught, and the Republican governor pledged to press the issue in the 110th Congress next year. In the Salt Lake Tribune today, Utah Sen. Bob Bennett and Rep. Jim Matheson said their Washington County Growth and Conservation Act of 2006 won’t get through Congress this year either. But the controversial measure, which has plenty of opponents, may undergo some serious surgery in the new Democratic-controlled Congress. And Democrat Matheson may have a better chance of getting the bill through now that his party is in control. Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson would prefer not to take his chances in the near year with his Boulder-White Clouds bill. An Associated Press story in the Idaho Falls Post-Register reported that the Idaho Republican rep said he feels like he’s caught between Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, who said he wouldn’t support the bill unless it contained “trigger language” that would ensure stakeholders got their due before any wilderness designation; and West Virginia Rep. Nick Rahall, who voted against the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act when it passed the U.S. House earlier this year because the Democratic lawmaker said the bill cheapened federal lands. Simpson said every time he makes a change that Craig approves of, the legislation becomes even less appealing to Rahall. Read More »

“Property Rights” Measures Rejected In Washington and Other States

The West-wide property rights campaign to force governments to back off from limiting development on private property came to a showdown Tuesday, and supporters won big — in Arizona. The regulatory takings campaign stalled in every other state, though, being either stricken by courts or rejected by voters in five states. Voters in Washington, California and Idaho said no to the idea in balloting Tuesday. In the campaign around the West, regulatory takings was tarted up with emotional arguments against eminent domain, funded by wealthy activists, and hawked with the fervor of true believers. The supporters, from the Ayn Rand school of libertarian thought, had an impressively bold idea: Strike at the heart of government’s ability to tell people what to do by making it waive its property regulations. The result would have — could be? — a fundamental reshaping of the American scene, starting in the West, with its penchent for property rights and wide-open ballot initiative systems. In other words, reconfigure American political thought by taking a populist-sounding idea straight to the voters. The voters, it turns out, mostly said no thanks... Read More »

Neighbors, Takings and Money Refused — A Roundup of Interesting Landuse Stories

There are several interesting little property rights stories floating around just ahead of the big vote in the West this week on various Measure 37 spinoffs. ”¢ First... across Ol’ Windy in Skamania County, property developers are threatening to sue the county if it enacts a zoning plan around Swift Reservoir. Their beef? They say that putting in protections after they’ve bought spec land with hopes of building hundreds of houses would be — you guessed it — illegal taking. The threat comes just ahead of Washington’s vote on a statewide takings initiative, I-933. ”¢ Second... Read More »

Big Look Task Force Struggles To Find the “Vision Thing”

It can be damned hard to rekindle an old flame. Just ask Oregon planners, who are trying to get the state’s citizens psyched about … well, about the future of their state, is all. Just last week, the Oregon Land Use Task Force — aka,the Big Look task force — returned to the road for a two-day public session in Medford. It was be the group’s ninth meeting since its ten members first convened in March, called up from diverse walks of life by Senate Bill 82 to rework the state’s land use planning system. In Pendleton last month, the task force’s six subcommittees edged forward, each studying a separate set of planning questions, grappling with massive learning curves and overwhelming amounts of information. That the task force is moving forward in cautious, systematic — some would say slow — fashion has started to cause angst, notably from the Oregon Chapter of the American Planning Association (OAPA), which suffers from having enormous hopes and expectations, a bursting knowledge of the issues, and a bit of the Gepetto syndrome... Read More »

Poll: Oregonians Regret Passing Measure 37

We Oregonians, hoping to fend off intrusive government, passed Measure 37 two years ago by a muscular majority — but we wouldn’t if the election were re-voted today. That’s the upshot of a recent poll of 405 Oregon voters. Voters would oppose Measure 37 today by 2-to-1, according to the poll by the lefty statistics-mongers at Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner. The turnaround in public perception is stunning; or, it would be if you haven’t been reading about the spawn of Measure 37. See, it’s hard to miss the point when you hear things like one Oregon farmer saying of a neighbor’s mega-development, “This is not what I voted for.” The poll, showing what the pollsters called “buyer’s remorse,” comes out this week just days before voters around the West will cast ballots on similar property rights initiatives... Read More »