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Tag Archives: Property Rights

Grilling Terry L. Anderson, Free-Market Environmentalist

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Terry L. Anderson is one of the most original and controversial thinkers in the West. Executive director of the Property and Environmental Research Center (PERC) in Bozeman and cochairman of the Hoover Institute’s Property Rights, Freedom and Prosperity Task Force, Anderson is also one of the pioneers of “free-market environmentalism.” He coauthored a book by that name with Donald Leal in 1992 (Palgrave Macmillan), and has also authored or coauthored over thirty other papers and books, including The Not So Wild, Wild West: Property Rights on the Frontier (Stanford University Press), and the CATO Institute study, "How and Why to Private Federal Lands." 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 »

What Jackson Hole Can Learn From The Big Apple

When Westerners get their city fix in the Big Apple, some return home with nothing but relief. Lifestyle statistician and commentator Jonathan Schechter got something else: A revelation about the similarities between the green heart of New York City and his own turf in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. His epiphany grew out of conversations he had with investment gurus who told him the best strategy for ensuring sustainable prosperity is to plan ahead and take a long view of the mountainous horizon that, more and more, Americans are coveting. Despite Jackson Hole's reputation as being a refuge for the ultra rich and famous, Schechter notes that the way it approaches growth and plots its own future is still bamboozled by a poor man's mentality in thinking about development. As always, his essays deliver lessons about where the West has been and where it's headed. 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 »

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 »

“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 »

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 »

Buff Daddy’s Place: Open for Business

In the long-running battle between the owners of the Viewpoint Inn and, oh, seemingly every official in the Gorge, we have a winner: the Inn is open for business. A Multnomah County hearing officer approved a conditional-use permit for the historic Corbett inn earlier this month. Owners Geoff “Buff Daddy” Thompson and partner Angelo Simione say they’re taking summer wedding reservations, and could have the restaurant portion of the inn open in several weeks. The saga of the Viewpoint Inn... 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 »