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."
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