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Thread: Oregon's Measure 37 will destroy its famous Land-Use Laws

  1. #1
    Oct 2004
    Portland, OR

    Oregon's Measure 37 will destroy its famous Land-Use Laws

    As many of you know, Oregon has some of strictest Land-Use laws in the nation most of which were brought about by Governor Tom McCall in Senate Bill 100 in 1973. Urban Growth Boundary, Metro Regional Government, regional planning etc are key parts of Oregon's famous land use policies and as a result the region does not have anywhere near the kind of sprawl that other regions in the U.S. have.

    However, there is a measure on the Oregon November ballot, Measure 37, which through deceptive wording "Governments must pay owners, or forgo enforcement, when certain land use restrictions reduce property value" will destroy the 30 year effort limit sprawl and maintain a good quality of life for all residents of Oregon.

    Government will not pay owners, they dont have the money to, so they will forgo enforcement of the laws. Just the administrative costs projected for this measure are $344 million a year not including any claim payments.

    Unfortunately the polls have this passing yet most Oregonians support the current land use policies because of the way the measure is worded.

    Here's an editorial from today's Oregonian:

    Measure 37's sneak attack

    Most Oregonians support our land-use laws and don't realize how badly this measure would undermine them

    Wednesday, October 27, 2004

    "Don't it always seem to go That you don't know what you've got Till it's gone They paved paradise And put up a parking lot."
    -- Joni Mitchell "Big Yellow Taxi"

    R emarkably, in the battle over Measure 37, both sides agree on one thing: If this measure passes, thousands of acres of Oregon farmland would disappear. Blue-green landscapes that now seem to stretch to infinity would be carved up into bite-sized rural "ranchettes."

    Translation: Sprawl.

    For supporters of Measure 37, that's OK, though. What will be, will be. This measure would usher in a new era in which property owners' grievances, however minimal or unfounded, could trump 30 years of land-use planning in Oregon. People who claim regulations have reduced the value of their land, even by a fraction, could press for payment.

    Most governments couldn't afford to pay, or even to argue about whether claims are valid. Under Measure 37, governments that stop and think risk having to pick up the attorney fees of claimants. The measure thus pressures governments to cave in, ignore the rules and let claimants do whatever they want. In this atmosphere, most cities and counties would fold quickly, and Oregon's land-use laws would crumple with them.

    Sometimes an outsider has to tug on our sleeve and remind us what we stand to lose. This week the Seattle-based Northwest Environment Watch did just that.

    The organization compared the greater Portland region with 14 similar areas in the nation. The analysis shows that Oregon's land-use laws have had a dramatic effect in saving farmland. Between 1990 and 2000, the Portland region ate up less than half as much land per capita as the average city studied.

    "If greater Portland had sprawled like Charlotte, N.C., over the decade, for example, it would have lost an additional 279 square miles of farmland and open space," the group concluded.

    Thirty years ago, Oregon enacted extraordinary protections on farmland, precisely to put a stop to rural ranchettes. This low-density rural development does little to benefit the economy. As it proliferates, it saps resources, burdens government services and wastes land.

    Yet even as Measure 37 would stimulate such wasteful development, it would also undermine land-use protections that have helped farmers thrive and boosted Oregon's $3.4 billion agriculture industry. True, it's changed considerably. But putting a premium on saving rich soil has given farmers the flexibility to branch out into new specialties, such as wineries, Oregon-branded products and nurseries.

    It's hard for us to appreciate what we have, but Oregon farmers are doing their best to remind us. Fifteen county farm bureaus have urged Oregonians to vote no on Measure 37.

    Sometimes paradise gets paved, but nothing says we have to assist.


    For more information on this Measure:

    'The Oregonian' guide to Measure 37: http://www.oregonlive.com/campaignce...5030427560.xml

  2. #2
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
    Mar 2004
    Where Valley Fever Lives
    Blog entries

    Defacto Takings Claims...

    Sounds like a defacto takings claim settlement, only without the courts getting involved.....weird.... Do they seriously think the gov. will be out there paying people to meet code requirements?

    How was this "measure" started? Initiative by some farmer who's pissed about not being able to maximize a sell of his/her land to a developer? or maybe referendum by some state rep. pissed about not being able to maximize a sell of land to a developer....ha ha ha.....either way, it sounds like someone is upset and wants to go bank on da G-men hommie....
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  3. #3
    Oct 2004
    Portland, OR
    It was actually started by a couple in Sisters, OR, I dont think they were farmers. Infact I think a lot of farmers are against this measure.
    This is an editorial from a farmer...

    VOTE NO: The measure undercuts today's laws and creates uncertainty for all property owners
    Sunday, October 10, 2004

    My family has been farming in Washington County for more than 100 years. We plan to continue for 100 more. This is the perfect place to grow more than 200 different crops, including the grain, grass and legume seed my farm produces.

    But if Measure 37 passes, there's a good chance I'll be the last generation of my family to farm here. This measure undermines laws that protect farmland from being subdivided and developed.

    Measure 37 creates uncertainty for all property owners and will cost taxpayers millions for new government processes and procedures.

    That's why I've joined county farm bureaus, small-business owners, property owners, the League of Women Voters of Oregon and civic leaders to oppose Measure 37.

    I urge you to take a closer look. Measure 37 has a simple but misleading ballot title. It starts with "governments must pay owners." Some people will stop reading there and assume a check will be in the mail. But the measure provides no revenue for payments, and there's no guarantee anyone will be paid. If they are, taxpayers will foot the bill.

    Measure 37 gives government the choice to allow certain landowners to violate zoning laws that protect farmland and neighborhoods or pay those landowners to comply. Government decides who gets paid and who doesn't, who gets to build and who doesn't. Measure 37 doesn't establish any rules for making those decisions -- it just gives government the power to make them.

    Under Measure 37, a city or county could decide to waive a zoning rule rather than pay a claim. Because the measure doesn't require public notice, when a neighbor makes a claim your first hint about what's being built next door may be when construction begins.

    Figuring out who qualifies for the benefits of Measure 37 is a costly and confusing bureaucratic nightmare. The only people likely to benefit are those who can afford a bunch of lawyers and lobbyists.

    First, the government would bear the burden of determining the date a claimant or relative first acquired the property. Some people and corporations bought land decades ago, long before current zoning was adopted. The measure even allows claims from 60, 70 or more years ago, based on when someone's grandparents first bought the land. Measure 37 turns back the clock for a certain class of property owners.

    Next, the government needs to figure out the zoning rules that were in place at the time the land originally was acquired and for all the decades the land has been owned. This would require a full set of past zoning codes, including every amendment, with accurate information about the effective date of each change. Most cities and counties simply don't have this in their files.

    Third, government will need to determine the value of each claim. Governments may have to pay for appraisals of the property value with and without uses that are illegal under today's zoning.

    Finally, the government has to decide whether to pay the claim or waive the regulation. The measure contains no standards for making this choice. The government could decide one thing for your property and something entirely different for your neighbor's.

    And if your property values are decreased by a decision affecting your neighbors' property, you're not entitled to any compensation for that.

    That's not fair. Cost to taxpayers unknown

    What about the cost of all these new layers of government?

    The Voters' Pamphlet fiscal impact analysis estimates that the administrative costs to taxpayers will be $64 million to $344 million every year to process claims under Measure 37. Where will the money come from? Higher taxes? Schools? Law enforcement?

    No one knows. No one knows the final cost to taxpayers.

    Instead of certainty and predictability, we would have chaos. Measure 37 is unfair, arbitrary and would lead to spending millions of dollars for new and unnecessary red tape.

    I urge you to join me in voting NO on 37.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian ludes98's avatar
    Oct 2003
    Scottsdale, AZ
    Spot unzoning to quote the October Planning article on the subject. The worst part of this is that claims can be made on what might have been. Since when can the future be accurately predicted? Seems that legal battles will be hard fought on this.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
    May 2003
    City of Low Low Wages!
    When will the west coast learn that ballot initiatives are stupid?

  6. #6

    May 1997
    Williston, VT
    It is well worth noting that the founding fathers knew about and did NOT put the initiative and referendum in the Constitution.

    It will be a sad day if 37 passes, as the accomplishments of Oregon's land use laws are very real. At the same time the arrogance and cliquishness of Oregon's land community - DLCD, !000 Friends, etc - whether perceived or real will have played a major role in the dismantling of the laws.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian plankton's avatar
    Feb 2003
    coastal rainforest
    Well, sadly, it passed. I will be attending a conference this weekend that will address this issue in detail. As a city planner, I am not overly worried, in fact, I look forward to possible changes in current laws that could provide more opp's for mixed-use/waterfront (re)developments through more cost-effective, flexible codes. Clearly, the biggest loser in this whole deal will be the farms & forests (not to mention us). Ho hum.....

  8. #8
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
    Mar 2004
    Where Valley Fever Lives
    Blog entries


    Quote Originally posted by plankton
    Well, sadly, it passed. I will be attending a conference this weekend that will address this issue in detail. As a city planner, I am not overly worried, in fact, I look forward to possible changes in current laws that could provide more opp's for mixed-use/waterfront (re)developments through more cost-effective, flexible codes. Clearly, the biggest loser in this whole deal will be the farms & forests (not to mention us). Ho hum.....
    At the risk of sounding like your boss , I for one would like an update from your recent conference?
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  9. #9
    Cyburbian nuovorecord's avatar
    Dec 2003
    Portland, Oregon

    ...and the fun begins.

    Two landowners file Measure 37 claims on first day
    12/2/2004, 9:34 a.m. PT
    The Associated Press

    (AP) Property rights advocates Thursday wasted no time in putting to the test a new Oregon law that allows people who complain they have been blindsided by land use laws to seek compensation or a waiver of the restrictions.

    Dorothy English, 92, of Portland, and Gene and Barbara Prete of Sisters, who were part of the campaign that won voter approval of Measure 37 last month, filed their Measure 37 claims Thursday morning with Multnomah County and Deschutes County, respectively.

    "We're excited this day is finally coming," Gene Prete said from Bend after filing a claim for waiver of state land use laws that have prevented him and his wife from building a retirement home on 20 acres outside Sisters where they grow hay and keep three horses.

    "We're really looking forward to having this behind us in the next few months and hopefully being able to build a house next year," Prete said.

    English wants to be able to subdivide land she has owned since 1953 in the scenic hills overlooking Portland so she can give some to her children and sell some to finance her retirement.

    "I couldn't sleep last night," English said in Portland, dressed in a blouse and raincoat in her favorite color, purple. "I got up earlier than I ever do.

    "I've waited for over 30 years. That's a long time. In fact, I wish they could give me some of those years back."

    Both the Pretes and English sought waivers of filing and other fees, contending they are unfair obstacles to people seeking redress of wrongs.

    English's application listed the value of her property at $1.15 million if it could be subdivided, but she does not have the cash to pay the $1,500 filing fee and other fees imposed by Multnomah County, said her attorney, Joe Willis.

    Reflecting a buildup over the past 30 years of frustration with Oregon's first-in-the-nation comprehensive land use laws, Measure 37 passed in every county but Benton, home to Oregon State University and generally considered one of the most liberal in the state.

    It allows people who owned a piece of property before some restriction was put into effect to claim compensation for the unrealized value of the property or a waiver of the restriction. Family members of original owners are also eligible.

    "The sky won't be falling as (opponents) claimed throughout the campaign," said David Hunnicutt of Oregonians In Action, the property rights group that sponsored the measure. "I just don't think there will be many claims filed."

    Thursday was the first day property owners could file claims for relief, but no one had a good idea how many claims would be filed over time.

    The Legislature won't take up the issue to clarify filing procedures until sometime after it convenes in January.

    Counties and cities around the state have adopted their own procedures, with filing fees ranging from zero in Josephine County in the south, to $1,500 in Multnomah County, Oregon's most populous county. The city of Eugene plans to charge up to $7,500 for staff time to chase down information for incomplete claims.

    Gov. Ted Kulongoski has required anyone making a claim against a state law or regulation to file, at no cost, with the state Department of Administrative Services.

    Oregonians in Action maintains that high filing fees will just be sidestepped by English and others as they move on to lawsuits after a 180-day waiting period, as provided for in Measure 37.

    "Some of the local governments are throwing tantrums and have adopted ordinance provisions that are so onerous and unfair that no property owner in his or her right mind would ever try to follow them," said Hunnicutt. "What they do is just submit their claim, wait their 180 days and file a lawsuit.

    "Unless Multnomah County has a change of heart ... that is exactly what Dorothy (English) plans on doing."

    With the state and counties all facing budget crises, many claims are expected to get a waiver, though Kulongoski has said he would like to see compensation paid if possible. One suggestion has been to use the extra property taxes paid by owners who won waivers and saw their property values go up to pay claims by others so their property would not be developed.

    The measure threatens Oregon's Land Conservation and Development Act of 1973 and subsequent revisions, which has controlled urban sprawl and preserved farm and forest land from residential development; the Oregon Forest Practices Act, which has protected fish and wildlife habitat on private timberlands, and local zoning codes that limit industrial, commercial and residential development to specific areas.

    Developers and timberland owners, who supported and helped finance the Measure 37 campaign, are not expected to jump in anytime soon.

    "If there is a stampede on the city halls and county courthouses, it may put the whole ballot Measure 37 in jeopardy," said Kelly Ross, lobbyist for the Home Builders Association of Multnomah County. "The legislature might be prompted to either declare some kind of moratorium on claims or some other measure of that type."

    Dale Riddle, vice president for legal affairs of Seneca Jones Timber Co. in Eugene, said large industrial timberlands were too valuable to turn into houses since logging restrictions dried up national forest lands. Most would not be eligible for claims because they have changed hands in the past 10 years. Timberland owners supported Measure 37 because they wanted to "draw a line in the sand" against further restrictions on logging.
    "There's nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed by what's right with America." - Bill Clinton.

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