Oregon’s sweeping property-rights law upheld by state Supreme Court

Will Oregon’s famously tough urban-growth boundaries be breached in favor of McMansions and office parks? Seems so. After an expedited review, the state’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Tuesday that a controversial 2004 property-rights ballot measure is legal. Measure 37 allows landowners seeking to develop their property to apply for waivers from tough state rules protecting open space if the state can’t compensate them for lost land value — and the state has no funds for such compensation. A lower trial court judge had ruled that Measure 37 violated both the state and federal constitutions, but the Supremes disagreed. The court’s ruling allows more than 2,500 applications covering 66,000 acres of land in the state to move forward. Open-space advocates may try to put anti-37 initiatives on the ballot, but also hope a new state task force, nicknamed “The Big Look,” will find other ways to bolster land protections.

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