Oregon voters lash out against land-use planning

For more than three decades, Oregon’s comprehensive anti-sprawl land-use planning rules have funneled development into urban cores and preserved vast swaths of land covered by farms and forests. Sixty percent of Oregon voters apparently found this state of affairs intolerable. On Nov. 2, despite opposition from current and former governors and state officials from both major parties, labor unions, enviro groups, farm bureaus, and utilities, they approved Measure 37 by a 20 percent margin. The measure takes Oregon further than any other state in protecting individual property rights, requiring full compensation for any so-called “down-zoning” — compensation that cash-strapped local governments are unlikely to be able to pay out. The measure’s supporters say the state’s land-use planning program had become too complicated and burdensome on landowners. Opponents counter that Measure 37 will produce planning chaos, inequitable enforcement of zoning laws, massive sprawl, and worst of all, similar efforts in other states.