I hope some of those who've applied for waivers of Oregon's land use laws under Measure 37 will read this post.
I've listened to many of you testify at the legislature's Land Use Fairness Committee hearings. We've passed each other in the hall, you with your white and red "I (heart) Measure 37" sticker, me with my green "Fix Measure 37."
You probably feel misunderstood and put upon. Well, so do I.
You can't understand why people like me don't want you to be able to develop your property in the way that was allowed when you acquired it. I can't understand why people like you don't realize that those of us already living next to a Measure 37 claim also have rights—to use our property in the way we could when we bought it.
If you'll read my blog post, I'll read yours. Just point me to it. So here's how a Fix Measure 37 proponent sees things.
At the moment. For the whole history of my involvement with Measure 37, click on that category in the column to the left. Then scroll past this post, which will be on top, and go back into time with my land use writings.
Kind of like your claim, if approved, lets you go back in time to when you bought your property, waiving laws and regulations passed after that. That seems fair to you, but put yourself in the place of a neighbor I talked with yesterday.
Here he is, right after he'd pounded in some signs provided by the "Fix It or Nix It" man. My wife and I met Mr. Fix It or Nix It after last Tuesday's Land Use Fairness Committee hearing ended. He'd heard us testify at previous hearings and wondered if we'd like to put up some of his signs.
Yesterday I used some of them for a photo-op in front of the fence that divides a proposed 137 acre Measure 37 subdivision from south Salem's Liberty Road. For the seventeen years we've lived here, nearly every day I've looked at the rolling vineyard-friendly hills that the claimant wants to put 43 homes on.
Our neighbor has been looking at them for quite a bit longer, since 1976. That's just five years after Leroy Laack, the Measure 37 claimant, bought the property. They each have a history with it. Except the neighbor has been living across the street from the 217 acres (only a portion of which is being subdivided, so far).
Laack is an absentee owner. Neither he nor any of his co-owners have any intention of living on the land. They just want to make money from it.
If neighboring wells go dry—and there already has been a lot of that happening in this groundwater limited area—the Measure 37 claimants won't be around to deal with the consequences. They'll have pocketed their profits and run, leaving the buyers of the lots facing angry residents who don't appreciate what the newcomers have done to the aquifer that everyone depends on.
Do you see why we're against Measure 37 as it stands?
Many people in our area voted for it, but now they want it fixed. They, like me, are sympathetic to people who bought property to build a house on, where they planned to live, then were prevented from doing so by a newly minted land use law.
But that's a far cry from a 43 lot subdivision on farmland that's designated "groundwater limited." Many neighbors have well problems. The man in the photo has to use a drip system on his garden because his well puts out so little water. He figures that he's got some rights too, having lived there for 31 years.
I don't have a lot of sympathy for people who bought Oregon property for investment purposes, then saw their development options reduced by a land use regulation.
Check out my "Measure 37 shouldn't be a guarantee to get rich." I bet you'll agree with what I say.
Even one of Laack's co-owners agreed with my thesis when I shared it with him before one of the Land Use Fairness Committee hearings. Investing is risky business. There are no guarantees. If you want a no-risk investment, keep your money in a bank account.
Well, thanks for listening, any Measure 37 claimants who have found your way to this Fix Measure 37-leaning blog. I appreciate your being open to another view.
That's what we need more of in Oregon: openness and respect for differing perspectives. Common ground can be found when both sides are willing to give a little.
I'm encouraged by the reform package the Land Use Fairness Committee has put together. I wish it was tougher on Measure 37; others wish it was easier, or left the law alone. So probably it's close to being just right, using the "if both sides are unhappy, it's a good compromise" standard.
Peter Bray over at Land Use Watch has been doing a great job reporting on, and analyzing, the just-released and still-being-amended legislation.
Thanks, Peter. And thanks to the Land Use Fairness Committee for coming up with a Measure 37 fix that makes pretty good sense. Especially to neighbors who are worried about their wells going dry.