Two Years of Measure 37: The stories

How is Measure 37 affecting Oregon communities? Sightline takes a look at how Measure 37—the so-called property rights initiative passed in Oregon in 2004—is testing fairness in seven Oregon communties.

Ted Warrick in his vineyard in OregonWineries threatened in Applegate Valley: Three Measure 37 claims nearly surround Ted Warrick’s 56-acre vineyard. Warrick foresees clashes with new neighbors over tractor noise, spraying, and even the late-night talk radio he plays to keep bears away. Homeowner complaints could potentially shut down the winery, Warrick says.

“We came here with the expectation to farm,” says Warrick. “Unfortunately these Measure 37 claims are really a threat to our business and livelihood.”

Gorham Blaine in his pear orchardHousing developments next to pear farms: Gorham Blaine, a fourth-generation Oregon pear farmer, faces three Measure 37 claims, totaling 260 acres, surrounding his orchards. All three claimants propose chopping up the valley’s sweeping farmland with big housing developments, some with lots as small as one acre.

“We should go back and figure out solutions that do make sense for people who owned their land prior to land use laws, to provide incentive to keep it in farming,” Blaine says.

Two fishermen in a boatMonument meets a pumice mine: A claim inside Newberry Crater National Monument is likely to win approval for a pumice mine, geothermal plant, and vacation homes. Here’s the story from owners of a fishing “resort”–really just a few cabins and a bait & tackle shop–and local fishermen.

“I thought it was a good measure,” David Jones says. “I was one of the many people who voted for Measure 37 and thought it would be a good deal for Oregon.”

Watch the video of Newberry Crater’s M. 37 claim!

Jim LeTourneux with stand of treesLoggers cope with subdivisions: The LeTourneuxs, a fourth-generation logging family in Oregon’s Coast Range, is concerned about a Measure 37 claim that allows a development of up to 848 homes on land surrounding three sides of their property.

“I’ve put a lifetime of work into putting in a timber resource,” says Jim. “Sandy and I could lose everything from a fire.”

Mt. Hood and nearby orchardsFarmer sues over Measure 37: Prime farmland in Washington County has been taken out of agricultural zoning. Local farmer, Bob Vanderzanden, has entered a lawsuit over concerns that new development, and the likley clashes over farm dust and noise, will impair his ability to farm.

Crystal Vanderzanden sums it up: “You come out here and just try to earn a living and you have all these . . . hassles.”

AlpacaGravel mine threatens neighbors’ livelihood: Susie Kunzman raises alpacas on her quiet Clackamas County farm. She’s one of 40 neighbors worried that the gravel mine approved just over her fence line will disrupt their way of life, stress farm animals, and create noise and traffic.

Neighbor, Renee Ross, summed up the community’s sentiment . . . “I hope other states don’t do this.”

Spring LakeSuburban community worried about their water supply: In Marion County, just outside of Salem, a homeowners association is struggling to preserve their quality of life and access to well water. A new claim would allow 82 homes with new wells, and no one knows what the impact will be.

“We expected things to be the way they were and that the land use laws would protect us, and now we can’t depend on them,” Laurel Hines says.

Scott Lay on farm, trees in backgroundAn elderly couple cannot sell their home: After 50 years on the family farm, it’s time for Roy and Lois Lay to retire. The Lays had an offer, but the buyer pulled out when he discovered that the property next door had won a Measure 37 claim to operate a gravel mine.

“I did vote for Measure 37,” Scott Lay says. “But like a lot of people, I was not voting for what it has seemed to become.” Read the Lays’ story.

Read the full report:
Two Years of Measure 37

Published: September 11, 2006