Measure 49 fixes nothing at all

Measure 49 is being sold as a fix for Measure 37, but it is nothing more than the same thing that Measure 37 attempted to redress.

The idea behind Measure 37 was to compensate landowners for the loss of use of their property or to allow them to use their property in the same way that was allowed when they purchased the property.

For these property owners, some legal uses of their land were taken away by the force of government law at a point after they purchased their property. In any other context, if this occurred without proper compensation, it would be called “theft.” In government speak, it’s called “takings,” even if the same government agencies do not recognize it as such.

Much of the argument for Oregon’s land use planning laws rests on the idea that we must protect scarce, valuable farm and forest land for future use. The beneficiary of these laws is some group of people definable only as the public.

But the “public” never purchased the property. It simply extracted the benefit under the guise of law at various points in our state’s history. If the public benefits, the public should pay; but the public has continually refused to pay for a benefit it achieved at the sacrifice of individual property owners.

Measure 37 attempted to rectify this injustice by either compensating the property owners or allowing them to use their property under the regulations in force when they purchased it in the first place. Government agency response has been mixed, but most have chosen not to compensate landowners.

That means that these property owners at least will be allowed to use their property.

Measure 49 will take that away. In its “attempt” to fix the supposedly poorly written Measure 37, it will impose limits on what these property owners can do as far as development, up to three new homes but no subdivisions on “high-value” farm or forest land.

Eliminating those limits or compensating property owners was the whole point of Measure 37.

As we’ve stated before in these pages, Oregon’s political landscape is dominated by people who have no real connection to the vast geographical majority of the state. With the large population centers (Portland, Eugene/Springfield, Salem) voting one way, those in communities like Sweet Home (and most of the rest of the state) are left out in the political cold.

Measure 37 was an attempt, passed by the people of Oregon, to right some of the property wrongs that have been perpetrated on rural residents by the urban majority. The urban majority has not appreciated the fact that its way hasn’t been popular.

Hence, we have Measure 49, rightly called by some a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” It’s an attempt by NMBY’ers (Not In My Back Yard) to strangle retirees and others who simply want to do with their property as they wish.

It’s a difficult read but certainly worth the effort if you’re someone who has concerns about the ever-increasing constriction of government in Oregon.

This is about property owners, many of whom have had their lands for decades, getting chopped off at the knees.

The TV commercials in support of Measure 49 may have well-meaning farmers and landowners attesting that Measure 37 has been a disaster and that it may have complexities and gray areas, like most other issues, that need to be addressed.

One thing is clear: Measure 49 fixes nothing at all, it rolls back the rights of individuals and it is not the answer.