Not a pretty picture, is it? High value Oregon farmland, 125 acres of it, perfect for a vineyard, being bulldozed into a Measure 37 subdivision.
This is the sight that greeted us after we got home today from a long weekend away. Neighbors had phoned and emailed us, saying that large earthmoving equipment was at work. One friend said that he drove a roundabout way home, since seeing an irreplaceable piece of Oregon farmland being torn up by a D-8 was too much for him.
As it is for most Oregonians, which is why this Measure 37 claim near us – the Laack subdivision – serves as a poster child for voting Yes on Measure 49 this November.
Measure 49 limits development on farm, forest, and groundwater limited land to three home sites. The Laack subdivision is both high value farmland and groundwater limited.
Defenders of Measure 37, such as Oregonians in Action, like to say: "Current regulations won't allow Measure 37 developments to move forward unless there is enough water to supply the subdivision without harming existing users."
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Take another look at the photo. You're seeing a Measure 37 subdivision moving forward, even though independent water experts hired by Marion County concluded that it shouldn't. They looked at all the evidence and found that neighboring wells and springs could be harmed by 42 more wells going in.
But politics overruled hydrogeologic science. Two of the three Marion County commissioners (Sam Brentano and Patti Milne) ignored the water experts and the county's own groundwater ordinance, choosing to trash the property rights of the many in favor of a privileged few.
Measure 49 will bring fairness back into Oregon's land use system. Hundreds of people live in the area around the Laack subdivision. Many of them owned their property before the Measure 37 claimant bought his. They assumed that their wells wouldn't be sucked dry by excessive unplanned development.
Yet this is what Measure 37 has brought us: 42 home sites on three acre parcels in an area that has been officially designated as needing at least five acres to support a well.
Crazy? Yes. Especially to neighbors of the Laack subdivision who have already had to deepen or replace their wells, and are wondering why bulldozers are moving earth on land that water experts say shouldn't be developed.
Even though many of our neighbors voted for Measure 37, they're all voting "Yes" on Measure 49. If you're an Oregon voter, you should too.
For so many reasons.