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County faces last-minute Measure 37 landslide

Deadline rush adds hundreds of new claims to the backlog

Clackamas County is still sorting out the last-minute rush of Measure 37 applications that poured in last week to beat a December 4 deadline.

The rules for submitting a Measure 37 claim changed after the start of last week, making it more complicated to ask for compensation under the property-rights initiative. A big surge in applications was expected as people and corporations tried to beat the deadline and get a claim in under the wire.

Was there a rush? 'Was there ever,' county Planning Director Doug McClain said. 'We're not even sure' how big it was.

'We received so many claims last week we're just finally logging in the claims now,' he said December 7.

He estimated at least 150 claims just on the Friday before the deadline, with about 350 coming in during November and the first few days of December.

Rules change

Passed two years ago, Measure 37 had already lead to over 50 claims in Clackamas as of October of this year; a map of claims shows that only four were rejected. The Clackamas County website lists 32 pages of claims, many for millions of dollars.

Under Measure 37, anyone who says a new land use law has reduced the value of their property can demand that the government pay them for the lost value, or waive the law. With no funding source attached to the measure governments have paid off claimants in almost all cases.

'After December 4,' McClain said, 'anyone wanting to file a claim based on a regulation adopted prior to enactment of the measure will have to first file a land use application that has the regulation applied to the property. Previously, you just walked in the door and filed your Measure 37 claim.'

In other words, he said, land owners will now have to actually try to develop their property - and be turned down - before they can file a claim.

Some claims coming in at the last minute have reportedly been for thousands of acres. McClain said the largest in Clackamas County was for some 800 acres northeast of Colton; it was filed by Avison Lumber Co., which wants to subdivide the land for single-family homes.