Property rights advocates work to restore Oregon's Property Rights

Liberty Matters News Service


Property rights advocates are trying once again to reform Oregon's land use laws and have obtained enough signatures to get their measure on the ballot this fall.

Ross Day, legal director for Oregonians in Action said, "Basically what it [the land-use reform measure] does is restores property rights. There is no fairness and balance in Oregon's land-use system. It's too geared to the radical environmental extremists."

The measure, if approved, will require the government to pay landowners when regulations cause loss of value to their property.

Proponents learned their lesson from their year 2000 experience and this time are asking for a change in state law rather than amending the Constitution in an attempt to avoid another collision with Oregon's Supreme Court.

The Court ruled the old "Measure 7" unconstitutional. Opponents of "Measure 7" claimed that it would cost the state and local governments $5.4 billion a year, but Day said they would likely see an increase in gross tax receipts because the new measure allows state and local governments to opt out of enforcing the land-use regulations leading to more development and a broader tax base.


Land-use initiative qualifies for ballot - The ‘Son of Measure 7’ would require payouts to landowners

STEVE LAW Statesman Journal

July 22, 2004

Oregonians will get to vote on a November ballot measure requiring government payouts to landowners if land-use regulations reduce their property values.

The state Elections Division announced Wednesday that backers easily qualified the initiative for Oregon’s Nov. 2 statewide ballot. Property-rights group Oregonians in Action submitted 90,276 valid petition signatures, well more than the 75,630 needed.

“Basically what it does, it restores property rights,” said Ross Day, legal director for Oregonians in Action.

“There is no fairness and balance” in Oregon’s land-use system, Day said. “It’s too geared to the radical environmental extremists.”

Opponents say the measure will roll back Oregon’s pioneering land-use rules and create a burdensome and costly process for governments to arrange payments.

“Governments get to independently decide whether to pay property owners or waive regulations and allow people to develop,” said Patricia McCaig, a volunteer leader of the opposition Take a Closer Look committee.

The measure will make Oregon’s urban growth boundaries irrelevant, McCaig said, because local governments don’t have the money to pay property owners who are denied building permits outside those boundaries.

Property owners qualify for the payments if they or their ancestors purchased the land before the relevant regulation or law was approved.

The property-rights initiative is a reprise of a similar measure passed by voters in 2000 but struck down as unconstitutional by the Oregon Supreme Court. That proposal, Measure 7, was invalidated on the grounds that it made too many changes to the Oregon Constitution.

Many people call the new initiative “Son of 7,” but it is different in important respects.

The new measure would change Oregon laws but not the Constitution. That sidestepped the legal problems of Measure 7 and enabled backers to collect fewer petition signatures.

The new measure also allows state and local governments to forego enforcement of the land-use regulations, thus averting the need to compensate property owners.

In 2000, a panel of state officials estimated that Measure 7 would cost state and local governments $5.4 billion per year. Backers said that

number was wildly inflated.

Day said the new measure might result in more money for governments, not less. If some agricultural land is sold for housing or other developments, that will add to the property-tax base of cities and counties, he said.

The measure might help some property owners, but it will be unfair to their neighbors if they are allowed to skirt zoning and other restrictions, said Ken Strobeck, executive director of the League of Oregon Cities.

Many Oregonians in Action members own farm land outside of urban-growth boundaries and want the right to build a second home or sell their land for other developments when they no longer are interested in farming.

The land-use measure has divided farm organizations. Some want the right to sell agricultural land for other uses, but others want to avert shrinking the acreage devoted to farming. or (503) 399-6615



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