Here’s a perfect example of why pay-or-waive laws don’t work. In the rural Oregon community of Prineville, a property owner filed a claim under Measure 37 demanding to be allowed to build his house on a specific portion of his property that’s zoned otherwise. Instead of waiving the zoning law, the county council became the first in Oregon to offer taxpayer compensation instead: to the tune of about $47,000.
But that’s not good enough for the property owner. Now he’s coming back with a new proposal for a diner and condominiums on the restricted portion of his property. The choice he’s giving the county is the same, but with higher stakes: pay him for the “lost” value of the buildings or waive the zoning.
Now, it’s not that he wants to build a diner and condos. That’s hardly the point. He simply believes he can force the county to offer him more taxpayer money (he’s talking about as much as $5 million) or, faced with that unpleasant option that they will waive the zoning for him. Either way, he’ll come out the winner and his community will come out the loser.
And now a quibble with the media coverage. The Eugene Register-Guard posted a very misleading AP story. The story makes it sound as if Prineville’s zoning prevents the fellow from building his house anywhere on his property. But that’s not right. Under the zoning he’s legally allowed to build almost anywhere on his land, just not with 200 feet of the rimrock, which is restricted from building inside city limits to preserve scenery.
Yeah, this is the old couple’s new tactic. It shouldn’t stand – they already made one claim and refused the payment (OR’s first and only to date).The issue is likely going to end up in court, as there is no provision for what to do if the landowner refuses either the pay or waive, or how many claims they can make. What a mess.
Of course they’ll repeal or dramatically modify the law in the next few years. And of course in the interim, one of this fellow’s neighbors can apply for a permit for a hog-rendering plant and we’ll see if he starts to see some of the benefits of zoning.
I just now read the AP arty. The local spokespersons for 933 were arguing that the poorly-written initiative meant that folks could talk to their neighbors to work out their differences, and one local letter writer said he’d take his neighbors over the ding-dang gummint any time. Of course, this argumentation is laughable on its face, and this article shows why.