I’m a day or two late on this, but there’s promising news from Oregon on Measure 37. Governor Kulongoski has proposed legislation that essentially puts a temporary moratorium on the most obnoxious results of the law. (See here and here (pdf) for the details.)

Kulongoski’s bill will still allow rural landowners to continue with small scale claims. In fact, it should actually speed up the processing of these claims. So legitimate claimants who want to build a single family house on their property — or subdivide to build a new house — will be allowed to.

Seems like smart politics to me. When Oregon voters passed the measure in 2004, it was partly out of concern for small-time property owners. Kulongoski’s proposal honors that concern and yet it gives the state a chance to grapple with the worstfeatures of the increasingly unpopular law.

And for those who haven’t been following the blow-by-blow, Measure 37’s consequences have been reaching new heights of absurdity.

  • In November 2006—just when Oregon’s neighbors were rejecting Measure 37 copycat initiatives (in part because of Oregon’s experience)–Measure 37 took a turn for the worse. In the span of about 2 weeks, the number of claims more than doubled.

    The barrage of claims also included Oregon’s biggest. An out-of-state logging corporation, Plum Creek Timber, filed nearly 100 applications to allow development on 32,000 acres of coastal forest. Plum Creek is demanding $94.8 million in compensation from taxpayers unless it is allowed to build on the land, most of which is zoned for forestry. Another out-of-state company, RY Timber, is demanding $8 million unless it is allowed to develop its holdings above Wallowa Lake. And Stimson Lumber Company filed 135 separate claims to allow development on its forestlands.

     

    Gosh, it almost seems like no accident that timber companies contributed the lion’s share of the money, $1.2 million, to get Measure 37 passed back in 2004.

    It would be laughable if it weren’t such a real danger to Oregon.