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Tag Archives: oregon

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...

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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...

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

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...

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Saxton Wins Endorsements — But Not Mine

As a fellow with a history in newspapers, including a little time writing editorials, I always read a paper’s opinion pages, letters and all. Those pages, especially the letters, are the pulse of a community, so they are always interesting — but rarely surprising. Enter the Sunday Oregonian, with its endorsement for the Oregon governor’s race. The O picked Republican lawyer Ron Saxton, writing that “Change begins at the top.” The O’s endorsement was one of three that Saxton has garnered recently from the state’s main newspapers, running just ahead of two for Gov. Ted Kulongoski. Oregon has all sorts of issues — like, off the top of my head, a growing population with a shrinking state police force, a wobbly tax system, a struggling public education infrastructure and legislators so ethically challenged they make Tony Soprano look like a stand-up guy. ...

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Walden’s Votes Speak: Thank-You Sir, May I Have Another?

If only my Congressman, Greg Walden (R-Hood River), made as strong a stand for the Constitution as he has for trees and mountains. If only he’d fight for 800-year-old limited government ideals as he will for Mount Hood. Despite his consistent Republican Party voting record — or, if you prefer, his rubber-stamping — Walden’s bipartisan push to protect a modest 77,500 acres of Mount Hood wilderness with the Legacy Act (along with Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Portland)) has run into hurdles from the Bush Administration. Loyalty with Bush and friends apparently runs along a one-way street. Walden, though being stymied on a signature piece of conservation, continues to toe the party line — even voting in support of historically bad legislation. Twice in recent weeks, he’s sold out Oregonians in favor of GOP bills with unmissably gross flaws. First, he cast his vote for torture...

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Courts Striking Property Rights Initiatives

Sheesh. The quality of help these days. I mean, you spread around a few million dollars to fuel 20 or 30 political initiatives, you expect your hired help to get the job done right. Then, you have a bunch of the initiatives thrown out because your hired signature-gatherers faked, gamed and defrauded the system. Man, what a month. It was only a week or two ago that the machine of libertarian political initiatives was rolling swiftly around the West. We recently wrote about the “Kelo-plus” property rights initiatives funded by a New York real estate developer and longtime Libertarian Party activist, Howard Rich. Rich and his allies have pushed those and also parallel initiatives to limit government spending and institute term limits in states from Oregon to Arizona. But the hired help has fouled up the works. Courts in Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Michigan and Missouri have disqualified part or entire initiatives that otherwise would have gone to voters. The decisions come in reaction to complaints about petition-circulators’ problematic, or illegal, signature-gathering tactics....

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Voted Off the Island! White Salmon Stages Its Own Version of “Survivor”

The White Salmon community has put itself through some rather dramatic times lately — though you’d hardly know it if you read only the other Columbia Gorge newspapers. A quick primer for everyone who doesn’t live in that most beautiful of gorge towns: This winter, the mayor fired the new police chief. (He did say something to the effect that “it’s not you, it’s me.”) That didn’t sit well with voters, who, last month, fired the mayor in a recall election. Now, the city has offered to rehire the ex-police chief. But the ex-chief, burned by the mayor, is being coy, and now the community has neither. A month from now, who knows who will be eliminated, or reinstated? In searching for, hiring, or electing citizens to both positions again, White Salmon residents might do well to remember ol’ Ed Burke’s thought: “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”

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Regional Onion Farmers Under Investigation for Illegal Pesticide Use

Uh oh. In news that is sure to make the onion industry officials cry, the Oregonian today printed an Associated Press article that reports Idaho and eastern Oregon onion farmers are in trouble. Growers in both states are under investigation for using an unapproved pesticide on crops this year. Two weeks ago, an Environmental Protection Agency official heard the whispers that some onion growers were using carbofuran, a pesticide with the brand name Furadan. The pesticide, which is designed to control thrips, is not approved for use on onions, but apparently it is used on other crops such as potatoes, sugar beets and alfalfa. The EPA official contacted the Agriculture Department because it is illegal in both states to use a pesticide that isn’t approved. Violators in Idaho can be fined for each use as much as $3,000, while those in Oregon face fines up to $1,000. Now both Idaho and Oregon agriculture departments are investigating the rumors and testing crops.

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The Campaign Against Land Use Planning

Editor's Note: This is the third of three-part series on the fallout from Oregon's landmark rollback of land-use planning, Measure 37. Click here to read the first installment, and click here for the second. This project was underwritten by the Orton Family Foundation in conjunction with the PLACEMATTERS06 conference to be held Oct. 19-21 in Denver. For 30 years, Oregon had the nation's most restrictive land-use laws, and when voters in 2000 passed a property-rights initiative only to see it nullified by the courts, public officials should have seen it as a wake-up call that the rules were alienating citizens. But they didn't, and thus it wasn't surprising that the follow-up, Measure 37, passed in 2004 with 61 percent of the vote. It isn't hard to see what drove Measure 37: Too many planners telling people they couldn't build on their property; too many rural retirement dream-homes nixed (and too many grand development schemes); a gradual erosion of equity as Oregonians saw neighbors achieve things they themselves had had to forgo. And many held a growing suspicion that the state's planning program was about protecting open space, at their expense. It galled landowners to think that their options might be severely curtailed for others' viewing pleasure - with nobody admitting it. That's what happened here. But if Oregon's the restrictive state, how can others around the West be so concerned about the far less-demanding land laws they live with? As it turns out, they are at least concerned enough in six states - Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Washington - to have signed petitions to put similar initiatives on their fall ballots.

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What If They Threw A Democracy And Nobody Showed Up?

Oregon residents value self-government more than Washingtonians. That might be stretching things a little bit, but consider this quote from Chris Vance, a former Washington state Republican Party chair: “In large parts of the state we are effectively a single-party democracy.” Vance was quoted in a Seattle Times article that says that 39 of the state’s legislative races this year are uncontested. That’s almost a third of the state Legislature that will go to the capitol without opposition; without having to address hard questions from people who disagree with them. The thought of hefty blocs of lawmakers strolling into office without opposition got me wondering about Oregon. Oregon has 65 state legislative races this year, 15 for state senate and 60 state representatives...

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