Note: This is part of a series.

Oddly parallel news articles this week: one from Oregon, where Measure 37 land-use is currently the law; and one from Washington, where Initiative 933 would do even more to reduce community input into land-use decisions.

On Maury Island, Washington a group of residents is trying to stop a gravel and sand mine from starting operations, which will include barge traffic near homes. The community just lost a round in court and it looks like the mine will probably get the nod from officials.

In southern Oregon, residents of the small town of Applegate are also trying to stop a gravel and sand mine from starting operations, which will include heavy truck traffic on narrow rural roads. The community is worried that near-unrestricted mining activities will damage the budding tourist industry and diminish quality of life.

What’s the difference between these two stories?

In Washington, neighbors and community groups have an opportunity to weigh in on land use decisions. It doesn’t mean that they will always get their way—and it looks like they’re going to lose this one—but Washington’s land-use laws at least let them attempt to determine how their island develops.

Not so in Oregon, where the mine is basically a fait accompli. A successful Measure 37 claim effectively silences local opposition (and Washington’s I-933 would be much, much more aggressive). 

The gravel mine lawyer in Oregon eloquently describes how measure 37 helps the mining interests at the expense of rural neighbors: “We’d be dead in the water without it.”