Sorry, Dorothy. You’re going down. Back in 2004 you were the face of pro-Measure 37 ads, a sweet 92 year-old who, as I’ve noted before, supposedly just wanted the right to develop her land so she could give some property to her children and fund her retirement.
Oregonians now reject Measure 37, which trashed our state’s land use laws and created a privileged class of property owners. So it’s time for an anti-Measure 37 icon to pop up.
I nominate me. My qualifications recently were burnished by a quote of yours truly that appeared in a Salem Statesman-Journal story by Beth Casper, “Report: Support for Measure 37 dips.”
Brian said Measure 37 proponents touted the benefits of reducing government and allowing people to keep their land and their own money. But the result is exactly the opposite, he said.
"It runs in the face of reality," he said. "We are all interconnected. What my neighbor does affects us. What I do affects my neighbor."
Why, I sound almost Biblical. In addition to New Agey.
In a wide-ranging interview at our home, Laurel and I talked with Beth about quite a few subjects. First, we agreed in person to a previously negotiated reporter-interviewees truce concerning which of us had the most attractive dog.
When I emailed Beth directions to our house I threw in a mention that she’d soon be gazing upon the world’s most beautiful Lab-Shepherd mix, our Serena. Beth questioned my claim, replying with a photo of her own Lab. I responded that the dogs were in different categories, Lab-Shepherd mix and Labrador, so couldn’t we agree that they both were world champions?
Once that issue was behind us, Laurel and I made many wise observations that didn’t make it into the story. One that I particularly favor, so will quote myself here, concerns the absurd assumption that if government action reduces the value of someone’s property, then they are entitled to be compensated.
That’s ridiculous. Governmental bodies are making decisions all the time that increase or decrease the value of assets held by people. If the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, the price of bonds goes down. Bond traders don’t moan and cry, “Government, reimburse me for the money that I’ve lost because of you.”
Similarly, I told Beth that both Laurel and I owned limited partnerships in the 1980s (we weren’t married to each other then, but had the same financial planner). They were touted as good investments because of the federal tax code in effect at the time.
Well, they weren’t nearly as good an investment after Congress tinkered with the tax code. As I recall, Oregon’s Mark Hatfield (or Bob Packwood?) was one of the prime movers behind the closing of this tax loophole. Overnight, the monetary benefit we were enjoying from the partnerships fell. A lot, I remember.
Investments rise. Investments fall. That’s the nature of investing. Why should property investments be the exception to this rule? The 217-acre Measure 37 claim next to our neighborhood is a proposed 82 lot subdivision, not a single-family home site.
There’s no reason why the owner of this investment property should be given a special dispensation to harm the limited groundwater supply in our area just because zoning laws changed after he bought the land. Tax laws changed after we bought our partnerships. Nobody compensated us for lost value caused by government action. Why should Leroy Laack and his partners get a free pass?
Thankfully, Oregonians are recognizing that Measure 37 was, is, and always will be unfair. It was good to see that Washingtonians seem to be rejecting I-933, an initiative that would be as harmful to our neighbor to the north as Measure 37 has been to Oregon. (Also via Land Use Watch, you can check out a persuasive anti I-933 ad prepared by the Sightline Institute).
Another poll shows that Californians are likely to vote down Proposition 90, a Measure 37 clone.
The tide seems to be turning against trashing land-use laws. I’m pleased to play my part in this effort. If that means being prominently featured in television advertisements where I turn the faucet in our kitchen sink and sand comes out, our well having been sucked dry because of excessive unregulated development by the nearby Measure 37 claim, then so be it.
I’m willing to be famous for this just cause.
(Note: our well hasn’t been affected yet since the subdivision is still in the planning phase. But Oregonians in Action didn’t let facts stand in their way when they made their deceptive pro-Measure 37 ads, so some karmic back-at-you seems justified).