More than three years ago, many Oregonians were weary and frustrated by repeated ballot measures attempting to deal with how Oregon and its communities handle land-use planning.

That's why the 2005 Legislature and Gov. Ted Kulongoski created the Big Look Task Force, a group of 10 citizens charged with evaluating what's good, what may be broken and what needs improvement in Oregon's land-use system. The task force includes several Portland-area residents - among them are Metro President David Bragdon, Lake Oswego Mayor Judie Hammerstad and Portland Tribune President Steve Clark.

While the task force started its work before the passage of Ballot Measure 49 - which addressed some of the inequities of the land-use system - the importance of the Big Look process remains vital. This remains true even as citizens and leaders in Oregon place more intense focus on how a declining economy may affect state funding for schools, health care, prisons and other services.

Everyday citizens next week will have their chance to say that it is important to improve how land-use policies provide for great communities, preserve farm and forest lands, enhance the economy, sustain the environment and guard private-property rights.

The Big Look task force is sponsoring a public-input session on Thursday, Sept. 18, at the University of Portland's Buckley Center. This is a prime opportunity for citizens who care about land use to influence the task force's recommendations before they are forwarded to the Legislature and governor.

So why should everyday Oregonians take the time to attend this meeting or review the task force's ideas online and comment at Because the future matters. How this state manages land use will affect everyone who lives or works here. Everyday citizens should not leave it up to land-use special interest groups to be the only voices heard on this important subject.

So attend the Big Look's Sept. 18 meeting. Or use the Web to comment. Become a champion for the future of your community and your state.

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