Oregon residents just took a huge step toward reclaiming their crown as America’s smart growth leaders. On Tuesday, voters handed an astonishing victory to Measure 49—it passed easily, with 62 percent of the vote.
I’ve got to say: I follow this stuff pretty closely and I had expected the measure to pass. But when I saw the lobsided numbers, I was floored—just floored. (Incidentally, 49’s margin of victory is even larger than the 2004 vote that first propelled Measure 37 into law.)
So, a huge shout out is due to 1,000 Friends of Oregon, as well as to the Yes campaign. But even bigger accolades are due to Oregonians: they told their stories, they put up with a major electoral fracas, they studied the claims and counter-claims, and then they overwhelmingly pulled the lever for Measure 49.
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I’ll also take a moment to crow: the so-called “property rights” activists who try to foist versions Measure 37 on communities have taken a drubbing. Not only did 49 sail to victory, but a 37 look-alike in Alaska tanked earlier this fall. And last year, copycat measures belly-flopped all across the West, with just one exception. But okay, that’s enough crowing.
Measure 49 doesn’t undo Measure 37, but it does curtail many of the wild excesses that were fragmenting communities across the state. And that’s really the worst part of regulatory takings measures. It’s wrong to think of them as mostly about land-use or environmental protection—in fact, they’re mostly about local democracy and community.
On that note, I’ll close by hoisting up some comments to another post. These are from Dave Yaden, who’s a Sightline board member:
Sitting here in Beirut at 3:30 AM (well,your time), my first reaction at seeing Measure 49 result was relief and joy… Part of that reaction comes from residing, temporarily, in a land where “land use regulation” is most notable for its absence. Or, you suspect, as a cover for the rich and powerful to become more so. As always, being away from home brings some of what you value into sharper relief… But being in Lebanon colors my reaction also with awareness of how serious, indeed how deadly, partisan and sectarian division can become if not countered by our better angels. So, to the victors, a toast. But not the spoils. If not a hand outstretched to opponents, how about at least an ear open to real complaints from real people.