Thursday, February 23, 2006

It's Alive! (Again)

Big news out of Oregon yesterday -- Measure 37 is still alive and well!

The Oregon Supreme Court, in a relatively quick action, overturned a lower court action unanimously and put Measure 37 back on track. In a lead story, The Oregonian reported that the decision "jump-starts more than 2,500 applications to develop land controlled by government regulations."

"Oregonians widely view Measure 37 as a shift in the state's approach to planning: reserve the country for agriculture, and concentrating people in cities. [Under Measure 37,] governments must either turn back the clock to rules in place when land was purchased, or pay for owners' financial loss. No money was set aside for cities, counties and state agencies, so rules have been waived."

The rejection of the lower court ruling staying Measure 37 "was emphatic. The court rejected each of [lower court judge] James' grounds for overturning Measure 37, saying it is consistent with the constitution. 'Whether Measure 37 as a policy choice is wise or foolish, farsighted or blind, is beyond the court's purview,' the justices wrote."

Oregon state government has established a 10-member task force to review Oregon's land use laws and philosophy in light of recent moves like Measure 37, to see what direction the state should take in the future.

In a related Oregonian story, farmers who had been prevented from selling land for development had mixed reaction to the court ruling on Measure 37, but generally seemed favorable. "'No one should be afraid of Measure 37,'" berry farmer [Jack] Parsons said. 'It doesn't force farmers to stop farming. It gives property rights back to farmers."

Another story in The Oregonian looks at the political implications of Measure 37 and the general attitude toward land use regulation on the Oregon Governor's election this November. "Candidates from all sides of the political spectrum...blamed Gov. Ted Kulongiski for failing to resolve the thorny issues posed by Measure 37, insisting they could do better. ... But land-use politics in Oregon show little sign of easing."

The success of Measure 37 in Oregon is being cited as part of the reason for other similar actions cropping up in other states, like a ballot measure moving forward in Washington state, and even for SB170 in Utah.


At 9:33 AM, Blogger google_PEAK_OIL said...

The Unplanner has a few thoughts about Measure 37 and Revising Oregon's Planning Goals

After more than a generation of implementation, altering some of the planning goals to reflect the realities of today and the challenges of tomorrow might not be a bad idea.

These processes could potentially yield downright productive results if today’s political leaders and support staff (planners, engineers, scientists) honestly acknowledge tomorrow’s challenges and properly deal with them. This means focusing on the growing impacts of energy shortages, resource depletion and environmental hazards/climate change and not on how best to accommodate a million new residents or facilitate economic growth.

Personally I hope that if a reduction of planning restrictions occurs, that it coincides with the coming major change in the market where people will be looking for a way out of auto dependent suburbia in favor of efficient, affordable transit-oriented housing in walkable mixed use communities. Perhaps the weakening of zoning and density restrictions will allow developers to accomodate the new market.


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