It's clear. Support for Measure 37, the attempt to trash Oregon’s pioneering land use laws, has crested. Now, after having experienced two years of nightmarish Measure 37 claims, Oregonians are awakening to a better way of dealing with property rights inequities.
A poll found that Oregonians would now reject Measure 37 by a wide margin. This goes a long way toward explaining Gov. Kulongoski’s new-found enthusiasm for introducing legislation in the 2007 session that would fix problems with this ill-conceived measure. (In 2005 I wrote, “Kulongoski caves in on Measure 37.” May that be the last time).
It also helps explain why property rights fanatic David Hunnicutt is sounding less fanatical these days. I suspect Hunnicutt sees the writing on the wall—“Measure 37 is going to be amended”—and recognizes that stonewalling on changes won’t cut it.
The Oregonian article says:
David Hunnicutt of Oregonians in Action, the group that wrote Measure 37, said he backs any plan to simplify the construction of modest Measure 37 projects. In exchange, he said, his group would consider supporting limits on development -- but not if one house is the limit.
Well, fine. How about a couple of houses? Laurel and I probably could support that. But not 82 houses on 217 acres that currently is zoned for exclusive farm use and is in an area with limited groundwater where five acres per well is the standard. That’s what our Spring Lake Estates neighborhood is facing.
The Measure 37 claimant, Leroy Laack, who wants to build all those houses on mostly two to three acre lots, is showing the ugly face of what was billed to voters as property rights “fairness.” Believe me, it is anything but.
Laurel is leading our area’s fight against the proposed subdivision. Thousands of dollars have been donated. Dozens of people have gotten involved with the Keep Our Water Safe Committee (KOWSCOM, which sounds like it should be part of the Defense Department).
She and I, along with other concerned neighbors, are putting in many hours fighting a development that wouldn’t be allowed under current land use laws. But Measure 37 rolls back the clock for a few privileged landowners. Regulations that protect the rights of many are waived in favor of a few.
That’s not fair. And this is why Measure 37 has to be changed. Today we got an email from a local resident who lives adjacent to the proposed subdivision. His well already runs almost dry in the summer months due to a declining static water level, so he’s put in a 1500 gallon holding tank. He said:
If there is more stress on the water table with all these new homes, I fear I will run out of water. My well driller says that there is no guarantee that more water will be found if we drilled deeper. Please let me know what I could do to help in your efforts.John Gray, developer of the Salishan and Sunriver resorts, is seeking the middle ground that Measure 37 passed over. Way to go, John. More power to you. And to the Deschutes County Commissioners who have denied a Measure 37 claim to dig a mine, extract steam energy and build homes within the Newberry National Volcanic Monument in Central Oregon.
Seems reasonable, doesn’t it? But not to the selfish Measure 37 claimants who say they won’t give up on their efforts to turn a national monument into their private environmental disaster.
Tell Governor Kulongoski that you support his efforts to amend Measure 37 to strike a better balance between the rights of those who want to develop their property, and those who already live in the area. Your supposed right to a 82-lot subdivision shouldn’t take away my right to have water come out of the tap.