A few days ago I spent a pleasant half hour talking with a reporter from the Anchorage Daily News. Rindi White's story, "Land-use debate looks to Oregon," is about Mat-Su Borough's Proposition 1 that will be voted on by borough residents next Tuesday, October 2.
My main message to Rindi, and by extension to Mat-Su voters, was: Vote No! Learn from Oregon's mistake!
Because Proposition 1 is copy cat legislation from Oregon, and the mangy creature it's modeled on is Measure 37 – which Oregonians are poised to reform through Measure 49 in a special November election.
I told Rindi that many of our neighbors voted for Measure 37. But I don't know of any, not even one, who plans to vote against Measure 49. They've seen what a disaster Measure 37 has been for Oregon, planting subdivisions on groundwater limited farmland where a vineyard should be instead.
Along that line, here's a special note to Dave Hunnicutt of Oregonians in Action. Dave, in a recent Oregonian story about Oregon's wine industry being threatened by Measure 37, you pooh-poohed the notion that subdivisions are being built on vineyard friendly farmland.
"They were talking about massive subdivisions two years ago and where are they?" asked Dave Hunnicutt, president of Oregonians in Action, the Tigard-based group that sponsored Measure 37. "The only big subdivisions being built are ones in cities that are mandated by our existing land-use laws."
You should subscribe to Google News alerts, Dave. Then you'd be able to read a recent Salem Statesman Journal story about a Measure 37 subdivision that is being built on high value farmland that is perfect for growing grapes (there are vineyards on similar rolling hills right down the street on Liberty Road).
Once that irreplaceable land is paved over, it's gone. So Alaskans, learn from Oregon.
Your Proposition 1, like Measure 37, is intended to make the rich richer and the average person poorer – because it will trash the property rights of the many so a few privileged people exempted from laws that everyone else has to follow can make a lot of money.
Government shouldn't be guaranteeing a return on real estate investments. Investing is risky. Situations change, including government rules and regulations.
Those who bought property for big-time investment purposes, rather than to live on, or build a few homes on, shouldn't be treated any differently than stock, bond, commodities, or other sorts of investors.
Alaskans, three years after Measure 37 passed we Oregonians are about to fix it through Measure 49. So if you make a mistake and pass Proposition 1, I predict that you'll be having the same regrets in 2010.
Save yourself and your state a lot of trouble and money. Vote "No" on Prop 1. Then, if you still feel like there are some inequities in your borough's land use laws, model new legislation on our Measure 49.
Trust me. You'll be doing the smart thing. For yourselves. And for Alaska.