Monday, October 01, 2007

OREGON VOTERS: VOTE NO ON 49 ("A wolf in sheep's clothing")")

This November, Oregon voters will cast ballots on Measure 49. Measure 49 is a direct attempt to repeal Measure 37, Oregon’s landmark property owner compensation measure, which was approved by Oregon voters in November, 2004.

If approved, Measure 49 will wipe out almost all current Measure 37 claims, and will eliminate all protection from future regulations. In short, if Measure 49 is approved, Oregon will return to the days before 2004, when state and local governments imposed land use regulations without regard to the impacts that those regulations had on the property owners being regulated. Your home and property will not be safe if Measure 49 passes.

Measure 49 makes the following drastic changes to current law:

1. All protection from future land use regulations will be eliminated. Measure 37 protects every Oregon property owner by insuring that the rights that an owner has to use their land when it is purchased are protected in the future. Measure 37 guarantees that when you buy a home or property, the state and local governments cannot pass new land use regulations that take away your rights without compensating you for the loss, unless the new regulations are needed to protect the public’s health and safety. If approved, Measure 49 will wipe out those protections, and return us to the days when government would steal your property without compensation.

2. Nearly every Measure 37 claimant will have their claim wiped out, even if the claim has already been approved. No matter how much time, effort, and money a property owner has expended to follow all the rules and jump through all the hoops, their claim will be wiped out, and they will be forced to start over under a new set of rules. Worse yet, very few (if any) claims will be approved under the new rules! It is unfair to pull the rug out from under property owners who have followed all the rules and jumped through all the hoops to use their property.

3. Oregon businesses, large and small, are specifically targeted by Measure 49. Under Measure 49, claims filed under Measure 37 for commercial or industrial uses, regardless of size and scope are not only wiped out, they cannot be re-filed. And like other types of property, commercial and industrial property owners lose all future protections. Our commercial and industrial properties are in short supply in Oregon, and need to be protected from new laws making it more difficult to establish a new business or expand an existing business.

4. Measure 49 discriminates against urban property owners. Measure 49 creates even more burdensome filing requirements, hurdles, and barriers for property owners inside cities than for those in rural areas. There is no rationale for discriminating against owners in urban areas.

Measure 49 is the result of a partisan effort by Governor Kulongoski to appease the extreme environmental left of the Democrat party. The Measure was approved by the Oregon legislature on a straight party line vote, with no Republican legislator supporting the Measure.

The referral bill was drafted behind closed doors and railroaded through the House and Senate without any opportunity for hearings or public input. Even worse, the legislators backing the referral came up with their own biased ballot title and explanation, and outlawed review by the Oregon Supreme Court, which is provided for all other ballot measures to assure they are fair and objective. Supporters of Measure 49 are putting out the same kind of misleading and inaccurate arguments against Measure 37 that they used to try to defeat it in 2004. Don’t be fooled.

They say Measure 37 will bring lots of urban-type subdivisions, Wal-Marts and strip malls. That’s simply not true. Measure 37 claimants in rural areas cannot secure urban services such as sewers and water supply – they must rely on private septic systems and wells for water. Also, developments under Measure 37 will be limited by the type and quality of area roads, water availability, and market forces.

Measure 49 supporters grossly overstate possible impacts of Measure 37 on farming and forestry. They fail to point out that Measure 37 impacts less than one percent of all land in the state, and that “right to farm” and “right to forestry” laws that have been in force in this state for over a decade protect farm and forest operations from lawsuits by neighbors who might complain about such operations. They fail to acknowledge that millions of acres of land have been mis-zoned exclusively for “farm” and “forest” uses but have little or no value for farming or forestry. Nor do they recognize that rural landowners should be able to determine the use of their land, so long as it doesn’t harm neighbors or the public – a property rights concept that the 1973 legislature approved when it launched Oregon’s highly restrictive land use regulatory system.

At the same time, opponents of Measure 37 completely ignore the benefits to the public from the limited development Measure 37 allows. Land that now pays very little property taxes (because of farm and forest tax exemptions), will pay a lot more. Opportunities for rural living will expand; now, it is extremely limited by draconian land use regulations.

Voters should vote “NO” on Measure 49 this November.