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Tag Archives: measure 37

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 »

No Measure 37 Claims In Gorge Scenic Area, Says Court

The history was complex, but a recent ruling made it plain: Oregon’s Measure 37 does not apply in the Columbia Gorge’s National Scenic Area. That was the word from the Oregon Court of Appeals last week. The ruling (read it here) came a relatively swift two months after the court heard arguments in the case. The court action was a test case specifically designed to answer the question: which has precedence, the scenic area or Oregon’s land-use development law? Defendants Paul D. Mansur and Stephen Struck — both Hood River property owners wishing to develop modest parcels in the Gorge — were represented by Oregonians In Action, the point organization for Measure 37. OIA argued in court that since Oregon had to participate in the creation of the Columbia Gorge Commission, the Commission is a state agency. Actually, the court ruled, it’s a hybrid creature, a regional bi-state commission established under a Congressional act. Wrote the judges, “we agree with plaintiff that the interstate compact between Oregon and Washington that created the Commission has the force of federal law,” making the Scenic Area exempt from Measure 37 While lawyers were hashing out the Gorge-vs-Measure 37 case, legislators were beginning to tackle the law head-on. Democrats, now solidly in control of the Oregon Legislature and the governor’s seat, say they’re considering a revision of Measure 37. They say they may address the greatest issue at hand: that Measure 37, considered a matter of fairness by a large (if dwindling) number of Oregonians, opens loopholes for potentially massive developments... 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 »

Hood River Valley Residents Form Competing Groups Over Measure 37

How many farmers would get out of the business if a better offer came along? A bushel-full of them. Counting the latest Measure 37 claims, greater than a fifth of Hood River Valley’s farmland could be developed into housing projects and golf courses, according to a brief from Oregon Public Broadcasting. That’s among the latest and most pointed land-use stories making the rounds. As I’ve reported previously, the Hood River Valley farmers are subject to increasing pressures and decreasing profits, which make potentially lucrative Measure 37 claims, for many, keenly desired. To its credit, the Hood River News has awakened to this unfolding drama in its backyard and has been reporting an ongoing series on Measure 37 in recent weeks. The latest installment is a defense by valley orchardists who are filing claims — and want to tell the “other side” of Measure 37... Read More »

Oregon’s Land Rush, A Gorge Court Case, and Light-Hearted About Biofuel

A note to our more sensitive readers: This article contains mildly opinionated statements, and an exclamation point. I made up one word, too. This week includes a deadline for Measure 37 development claims in Oregon (not the deadline, but a significant one, in that hereafter claimants must have a use for their land that central-planning types have actually turned down, and not just pie-in-the-sky statements on their claim forms), and hundreds of landowners, big and small, have rushed to demand the right to pole-vault over Oregon's hurdleanimous land-use laws. The Oregonian’s Laura Oppenheimer wrote a worthwhile overview of the land rush. One interesting quote is from state Rep. Bill Garrard, R-Klamath Falls, who supports Measure 37 and says that many Oregonians have “a lot of misunderstanding” about the law. (It’s simple enough in concept: People should be able to use their land however they want, the heck with the neighbors and with land-use laws enacted since they bought the land.) Says Garrard, “I feel it is the Legislature's responsibility to do something about it." Well, sha-freakin’-zam!... 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 »

And Now, the Main Event: Measure 37 vs. the Gorge Commission

The view north from an Oregon hilltop over Lyle, Wash., to Mount Adams. This landscape, with development concentrated into communities and limited outside them, characterizes the Columbia Gorge's Scenic Area — but a court case in the works now challenges that, on the Oregon side of the river.

There’s a court case quietly underway that may affect everyone who lives in or has a stake in the Columbia Gorge. At issue: The future of the preserving — often irritating, sometimes stifling — land-use rules that have kept ambitious land owners from turning the Oregon side of the river into a vast entertainment and housing development. The case on the docket of the Oregon Court of Appeals is titled the Columbia River Gorge Commission vs. Hood River County, and it’s scheduled for oral arguments on Dec. 7. We might more accurately call the case Oregonians In Action vs. the Gorge Commission, for those are the real actors here. In the court case, two Hood River-area property owners say that Oregon’s Measure 37 supercedes the National Scenic Area rules developed by the Gorge Commision. The men, Stephen Struck and Paul Mansur, want to build a few houses on their land; under current rules designed to protect the Gorge from sprawl, they don’t meet minimum lot sizes. Land-use rules have unarguably preserved the Gorge from hyper-development. They do so by frustrating many property owners’ wishes, though. Land rules are at the heart not just of this case but of Oregon’s future in many aspects... Read More »