County Leads Oregon in Implementing Measure 37
Jeanne Wollman & Curt Chancler
Jackson County is abuzz with activity as the commissioners step forward
to enforce the people’s wishes to use their land as expressed
in Measure 37. Oregon voters overwhelmingly passed Measure 37 in the
November, 2004 election, sending a clear and decisive message to the
state to free private property from the greedy grasp of those more interested
in control than the constitutional mandates and god-given rights regarding
private property. Measure 37 made a giant step forward in wresting control
of private property from state control. Within most Oregon county governments
we find a cabal of elected officials scurrying to side-step voter approved
law…but not in Jackson County, Oregon.
Commissioners Jack Walker, Dennis C. W. Smith and Dave Gilmour stepped
forward to process requests brought by those who have been denied use
of their land for years by the local planning commission, the state
Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) and the Land Use
Board of Appeal (LUBA). These government agencies and others have assiduously
used every legal mechanization available, even those far outside their
constitutional rights, to control private property and deny Oregonians
the use of their land.
One of the major
forces working to return land use to the private property owners was
Oregonians in Action led by Bill Moshofsky, Frank Nims and Dave Hunnicut.
They, with others, effectively directed the fight for returning at least
some private property rights back to land-owners. Hopefully this effort
will begin an avalanche of interest and effort to return property rights
to the people.
Even with millions
of dollars poured into the state by outside agitators interested in
state control of private lands Oregonians, in both metropolitan and
rural areas, voted for private property rights. State government officials
and their minions made efforts to twist and obfuscate the issue but
to no avail. The people sent a resounding message to Salem that they
want to control the use of their land. Even now, however, state officials
are working to undermine the wishes of the people.
In many Oregon
counties governing bodies are using every means possible to deter property
owners from filing to have their property’s value restored. From
excessive fees to outrageous liabilities, property owners are now facing
out of control leadership openly circumventing the vote of Oregon citizens
and Amendment V of the US Constitution…But not in Jackson County,
Oregon where Commissioners C.W. Smith and Jack Walker readily chose
to represent their constituents and the supreme law of the land, recently
reiterated by Measure 37. In turn, Commissioner Dave Gilmour who wanted
to impose a permit fee on applicants was forced to side with them.
Since the 1960’s
those in Oregon government have been slowly and insidiously maneuvering
to erode private property rights through more government control. Planning
Commissions in every city and county made it nearly impossible for the
people to use their land as they wished. There was a myriad of government
Boards, Departments and Panels that worked overtime to deny land-owners
use of their land. It was a costly racket beneficial only to those with
an interest in lining their own pockets and increasing government control
over the private sector. For every openly governmental policy and department
there was a half dozen more quasi-governmental parasites that lived
off the land use regulations.
The planning commissions
in each county became the sole arbiter of who could use their land and
who couldn’t. Thousands were denied not only the use of their
land but they were not compensated for this taking. When questioned,
land use planners always fell back on the authority of the LCDC. It
was never anyone’s fault locally that the landowner could confront
directly. Owner after owner, across Oregon, was stymied by government
stone-walling and effectively denied the use of their property. The
process was made so costly and time-consuming that few could afford
to proceed past the local board’s decision. They simply lost the
use and control of their land without compensation.
Measure 37 is only
the first step in restoring land use to the land owner but it certainly
is a step in the right direction. One major factor in halting the unfair
taking of land by the state is to make them compensate the landowner
when he is not allowed the use of his land. In America when someone,
whether private or government, wants something they must pay for it.
No law should be made without compensation for a taking. If the government
has denied the property owner use of his land and the owner has not
been compensated for that taking the order should be void. Nothing more
Land use must be
restored to the owner. If local government wishes to impose restrictions
on local properties they should have to bring these wishes to the people
and have them act on them. Metropolitan areas should not have control
of rural land use. Land use issues should and must be locally directed.
If the people of
any town, city or county want control of their property they had better
step forward at election time and vote in pro-property candidates. The
only way for people to maintain their rights is to exercise their rights!
Note: Jackson County voters definitely made the right decision
in the last election by electing C.W. Smith to the Jackson County Board
of Commissioners. It appears that the Observer has finally located county
commissioners (at least two anyway) that haven’t chosen “MONEY
and CONTROL” as their god…