Pride and Prejudice. Oregon voters cripple statewide land use planning program.
Richard Carson's latest essay, titled "Pride and Prejudice," is published in the recent issue of "Land Development Today." The essay explains why the voters in the state of Oregon approved what Carson calls "the most draconian property compensation law in America." Oregon is nationally recognized as having the first and most comprehensive state mandated land use planning law. However, the voters recently passed a statewide initiative (Measure 37) that cripples Oregon's planning program. Carson's thesis is that the voters passed Measure 37 because Oregonians were fed up with what he refers to as "centralized planning, social engineering and faux citizen involvement." The measure was decisively approved by 61 percent of the voters. The measure essentially goes beyond the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that says a property taking by government happens when it renders a property totally without value. The Oregon law now requires compensation for partial takings.
The measure turns the planning system upside down by allowing uses that were permitted on the day a person bought a property. So if you bought a property in 1950, then the permitted uses back then are allowed today, no matter what zoning changes occurred over time. Carson says that, "The extreme calculus of the compensation means local governments can no longer afford to enforce the statewide land use planning requirements." When the Measure took effect in December 2004, people filed land use applications for a coastal subdivision with 400 one-acre lots, a farm land subdivision with 350 two-acre lots and even a gambling casino. None of these would have been allowed previously.
Carson is also sending out a warning to other states. Oregonians in Action, the group that successfully got Measure 37 passed, is taking their concept on the road and encouraging other states to pass something similar.
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Posted August 3, 2005
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