Skip to comments.Oregon's Property-Rights Revolt
Posted on 12/05/2004 11:04:40 PM PST by Lorianne
Three decades ago, Oregon was the leader in statewide land-use zoning. And indeed, its strict laws have helped slow down urban sprawl and preserved rural vistas. But on Dec. 2, Oregon became the national leader in upholding property rights against aesthetic zoning. E-mail newsletters
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Under Measure 37, a ballot initiative passed by more than 60 percent of the state's voters last month, landowners can be compensated if they prove their property values were reduced by almost any government regulation.
Or, if government can't afford the money for compensation, a waiver can be granted to let a property be used any old way, whether to build a Wal-Mart or rows of McMansions.
This landowners' revolt, if it spreads to other states, could create havoc with the nation's landscape. Or it may simply rebalance the occasional excesses of overzealous but well-meaning government planners.
Oregon's big experiment should be closely watched, both for the clever defenses that some town officials are putting up or for the number of lawsuits the measure is expected to spawn.
Legal battles over property rights have become more common in recent decades. The US Supreme Court has carefully tried to define circumstances under which the "just compensation" clause of the Constitution requires government to pay property owners when regulations "take" value out of private land. It's not easy.
Many regulations enhance property values, while a lack of zoning can often bring values down. Finding the right balance is difficult for any community. In fact, the best zoning is done locally in order to accommodate unique local needs, and not by the state.
Still, Measure 37 sends this intended message: If voters want to regulate property, they should also tax themselves to compensate property owners who lose out.
I remember driving through Oregon years ago and seeing bumper stickers that read, "Don't Californicate Oregon" and "Keep Moving, Stranger." I guess the folks up there have finally decided to welcome the California developers and LA refugees.
I'm a Oregon refugee, born and raised there. I've moved to the reddest state in the union, Utah.
This is a complicated issue, and I worry that this law oversimplifies it. I agree with the law in theory, but say for example, I want to build a strip joint next to a school. Do I get compensation because the county/city/state won't let me do that?
What really needs to happen is a move back to constitutional government. "The powers NOT DELEGATED to the United States [the feds] by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." (10th amendment)
Goverment owns likes 40% of all land in the US and regulates the other 60%. Welfare, social security, mediscare, and a whole host of other programs are not to be administered by the feds.
In flyover country, public ownership of land can be as high as 90%. This drives up the price of land. All land ought to be private property except roads, bridges, miltary installations, property for government buildings, ports, etc.
I used to live in California. I can tell you its a disaster.
Liberals hated it for it means people can move into exurbs on the state's Eastern side. Bad news for the People's Republics of Eugene, Salem and Portland. See - for the Left, land planning policies have a political dimension. It keeps people under their thumbs. Measure 37 changes all that and don't be surprised if some liberal judge strikes it down for them.
I agree people in the Urban areas tend to become liberal and liberals plan the city and its infrastructure to prevent sprawl.
The way that I see it:Oregon has some terrific resources aside from lumber and they've just decided to tap those resources. Remember, Silicon Valley was started because of its proximity to graduate schools at Stanford and Berkeley and the technical expertise they produced. The same could happen with U of O, though in a different way.
What comes with that, of course, is a bunch of stuff Oregonians may not like -- such as movie stars building hideous homes on prime real estate on the coast or a proliferation of shopping malls with Starbucks. In short, you'll trade off some natural beauty for economic growth.
"...they've just decided to tap those resources."
I thought that logging was essentially banned because of that stupid spotted owl? The enviromentalist wackos want to breech the dams.
The resources are:
A)A wide variety of relatively cheap land in a wide variety of environments, mountain, coastal, college town, woods, etc. etc.
B) Plentiful water supply and in some cases geo-thermal.
C) Pockets of a fairly well educated population that can be paid less than they would in, say L.A. or SF or NYC.
D) Larger pockets of fairly cheap construction labor
"well meaning?" I dunno about you, but government planners I've seen are as far from well meaning as it is possible to get without moving to Mars. They are advocates of special interest groups whether it be Walmart or some bunch of ecofreaks. Whoever slips them the most generally gets the nod.
My point exactly. An explosive growth of exurbs on the state's Eastern side would end life for the Democrats as they know it. That's why they don't like the end of the stranglehold that Measure 37 offers for the simple reason they can no longer hold people under their thumbs in coastal Oregon.
Oregon is a beautiful state, but the Portland area is liberal wasteland. It's been invaded by somdomites, Saddamites (American Bathists), tree-huggers, hippies, femanazis, and commie-pinkos.
Despite its vast resources, Portland had the highest unemployment of any large city and Oregon had the highest unemployment of any state during this last recession. I think the unemployment rate was around 10% in Portland back in '02.
"I guess the folks up there have finally decided to welcome the California developers and LA refugees."
Not really, this has much more to do with the regulations that liberals want to pass to prevent people from moving to the country. It's "Smart Growth". In Oregon, these liberals have essentially made it impossible to build on your own land outside the 'green boundaries' around the cities. It's a form of socialism pure and simple. And, it's not confined to Oregon. Let these people have their way and we'll all be living in high rise apartment buildings using mass transit and tearing up the road system.
If you really mean that, then you're in for a shock. Because once the land is opened up, you're not going to get guys coming in with $1 million or $2 million seeking to build a couple of self-storage units and a fast food franchise sitting in a mini mall parking lot. What you will get is bankrolls of $30 or $40 million and up, along with some very good lawyers, engineers and consultants. And no matter how well-intentioned the local governments or citizens, it is virtually impossible to halt growth that has enough money behind it.
Yes, I really do believe it and you're the one in for a shock. I believe this because I have read what the environmentalists have written. They desire to establish a 'green belt' around all major metropolitean areas and prohibit any form of development outside these areas confining the population to a small percentage of the land area. It's called "smart growth".
It appears that you've been mislead by their propaganda about preserving the rural areas from shopping malls, etc. Do some independent research and find out what their real objectives are. This is not about regulating growth, it is about prohibing all growth outside the urban areas.
Here's a good place to start your research.
Well, Wally World (Wal mart) wasn't able to put a store in Hillsboro. The only Wally World I know of in Portland is near Clackamas (Eastgate?).
Wait for it. Wal-Mart probably ran the numbers and decided to call it a day.
Personally, I think Oregon could use a little growth, particularly down south.
Again, I believe growth in Oregon would be a good thing. Open it up to some semi-conductor folks...
Actually, we should open it up to the people, letting them, rather than a bunch of radical environmentalists, decide what is good growth.
I'm sure that if Intel wanted to open a factory in Oregon, even the environmentalists would allow it. The problem is, they would coercise Intel to buy up a large section of land donating it to various land trusts in order to get their approval. Now, if Joe Blow wants to build a house on his land, he would be unable to bribe the environmentalists like the major corporations can.
Hmmm? Intel already has a big presence in Oregon.
Not to worry. The courts will figure out what the people really wanted.
And also, if they are homeowners, to raise their property values by increasing the scarcity of local housing.