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Sunday, April 1, 2007

Destroying Oregon's property rights

Newhouse-Union putsch corrodes public trust
The Oregonion, government unions run roughshod over the voters' will

The good news is that most Oregon legislators are hearing from their constituents that allowing implementation of Measure 37 to proceed is, in fact, a way to avert the legal and economic train wreck that property rights opponents threaten to create in the next month or so.

The bad news is that Fred Stickel still rules The Oregonian for Si Newhouse, and continues to work hand-in-glove with Tim Nesbitt, ex-president of the state AFL-CIO who now runs the Governor's office.

A so-called Measure 37 'work group' led by Nesbitt announced last week they had come up with a compromise that they bill as the "Framework for a Better Measure 37." Legislative leaders have been working feverishly on this project almost since this session opened in January, desperately pimping for kind words about themselves to appear in print.

Land-use law approved by voters in both 2000 and 2004 gives state and local governments six months to process claims from landowners who believe they've been harmed by land-use regulations and deserve compensation. The deadline for filing such claims was Dec. 4. Some 7,500 were filed. The claims represent 37 years of locked-up land values and restricted local tax base growth under Oregon draconian anti-property rights land-use laws and rules.

Opposition to Measure 37 is based on adherence to Soviet-style principles that eliminate the right of the voters to initiate laws by petitioning. Opponents hold the dubious idea that the will of the people only matters when it goes their way, and that regulations on land do not amount to a "taking" of value for which landowners should be compensated.

Under M37, local governments can pay landowners or allow their responsible development proposals to go forward. Claims must be processed in 180 days, ending June 2. That is driving M37 opponents nuts. As state Rep. Greg MacPherson, D-Lake Oswego, who's leading the legislative effort to wreck the twice-voter-approved law, puts it, the deadline "concentrates the mind."

Last week MacPherson and Nesbitt's work group proposed to divide the opposition - an old union political trick. They say that most of the claims can be resolved by allowing most claimants to develop their property to the level allowed when they bought it. They have to have bought it before March 1, 1994, and have owned it continuously since. This "express lane" could allow some of the affected landowners to build up to three homes on a single piece of farm property. There would be stricter limits for higher value farmland and in areas where groundwater is threatened by developments.

Claimants who don't take that approach would be offered the chance to retrieve their property rights but would face a higher bar - including rigorous evaluation of their claims by government union lawyers in a highly bureaucratic and legalistic process that would mean resolutions will take years.

All of this would create a property rights fiasco, and add plenty of citizen distrust to a dangerous experiment in "democratic" socialism being conducted by Si Newhouse and his government union pals. This runaway regime rushing to replace individual rights with collectivism across the board is a real danger, threatening to cause real damage.

With ballot measures, Oregon voters are already facing all-out, slick put-down campaigns orchestrated by The Oregonian and Tim Nesbitt's gang of government union bosses. So when property rights restoration passes, twice, the voters really mean it. As legislators and others consider the scheme to destroy Measure 37 in the next couple of weeks, those who don't like it need to ask - what happens to Oregon if we can do no better than this?

The Oregonian, Apr. 1, OPINION By THE EDITORS

1 comment:

Joshua Vincent said...

If land values were created by individuals, I'd be impressed with your argument. Since land values are the one thing people own whose value is dependent on others, I'm not impressed.

Real private property, produced bought and sold, should not be hindered in any way. Land values are totally different.

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