I missed this Oregonian article when it first ran, but it gives a good rundown on the chaos that the passage of Measure 37—the voter-approved initiative in Oregon that forces the government either to pay landowners or issue waivers when land-use rules reduce property values—is creating, not just for state and county officials, but even for the landowners who were the measure’s intended beneficiaries.
What’s particularly interesting, at least to me, is that the measure has sown strife in many communities, pitting neighbor against neighbor:
Neighbors in some parts of the state have railed against the potential for blocked views, an eroded farming economy and increased traffic. The issue escalated in Yamhill County, where neighbors flooded a meeting five weeks ago to dole out waivers.
All this should come as no surprise: while many Measure 37 claims are fairly innocuous, there are also quite a few that are a very big deal indeed.
For every dozen or so low-profile claims, another attracts public attention. A pair of brothers in Marion County want to cover their farm with a casino, hotel, golf course, gas station and subdivision. New homes could trace the shore of Eastern Oregon’s Wallowa Lake, where Old Chief Joseph is buried. Nearly two dozen Central Oregon property owners want to capitalize on a building boom by putting in subdivisions.
Time will tell whether these kinds of conflicts will eventually settle down. But in the meantime, voters who were looking for a kinder, gentler land-use system may have given themselves more of a headache than they’d bargained for.