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August 14, 2007


I am not a farmer and I get my water from the City of Salem. So, why am I involved - because I believe in property rights.

Marion County Commissioner, Patti Milne, said on CCTV recently:

“There are people who just don’t want people to have property rights; they don’t want people to be able to develop their land or use it a little differently than what the current land use allows.” That is me that she is talking about.

She says that Measure 49 is “a slap in the face of property rights. It ignores property rights, it just pulls the rug out from under anyone who as had a Measure 37 claim. She says that any protest of a claim is “frivolous” and not a “legitimate appeal.” Again, she is talking about me, and Laurel, and Representative Clem.

She says Measure 49 “is going to devastate life as we know it and our Constitutional rights. I fear it can open the door to eliminating other Constitutional rights; if we don’t have property rights, what do we have?”

Not only do I take umbrage at her statement, I find them sinister as well. She uses “property rights” so narrowly as to turn the term on its head. She makes it sound un-American, but if limiting what you can do with your land is un-American, then high on the list of un-Americans would be the Pilgrims, the Congress that passed the Homestead Act, the Mormon Church, the New York real estate community who got the first city zoning laws passed (to protect their property values, by the way), and John Ogilthorpe and the settlement of Savannah.

Woody Guthrie wrote “this land is your land, this land is my land” and I accept that. We are citizens first, and property owners second. The value of my property depends upon the location of that property and the care and respect my neighbors show to their property. And my neighbors are more than just those who live across the property line. And my “property” is more, much more, than just what lies within my lot lines.

Oregon is a mix of urban and rural and what has made Oregon a good place to live has been the land use system that helps to maintain that separation. Robert Frost wrote that good fences make good neighbors and our zoning system, in both urban and rural areas demonstrates this. Land values have increased because of the foresight shown in the 1970’s. This is not about aesthetics and beauty and it is not about preventing growth; it is about growing about a plan instead of planning around growth.

Six generations of my family have called themselves “Oregonians.” There is more to being an Oregonian than just “brand identification.” Nearly 40 years ago, Oregonians looked at what was happening in California and they began to see similar encroachments here.

We did something unique: we defined “Oregon.” Through the legislature and scores of town meetings, a model land use system emerged. What Oregonians put into place in the 1970’s enriches us to this day; a foresight that others envy. It is significant that the land use goals adopted place public involvement as first among the goals, which Measure 37 effectively took away.

Commissioner Milne’s statements support my contention that Measure 37 effectively tosses out all comprehensive plans. Marion County has a comprehensive plan, it is a good plan. But it never, ever is considered in any discussion or decision relating to Measure 37. Measure 49 restores a balance between property rights and the vision we have for Marion County and Oregon.

Tom McCall was not tossing about loose-lipped rhetoric when he spoke of grasping wastrels. Oregonians recognized that by protecting the present they were providing for the future. This is what I seek through my support for Measure 49.

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