Oregonians are about to make a crucial decision about the future of our state. The ballots arriving this week ask voters to approve Measure 49, which modifies Measure 37.
As co-chair of the legislative committee that crafted Measure 49, I can tell you that it is a fair compromise that restores the balance between private property rights and protecting Oregon's land, water and natural beauty.
Measure 37 presented an appealing core idea - that when a land use regulation reduces the value of property its owner should be paid compensation or the regulation should be waived. This idea was pitched in ads featuring elderly Oregonians who wanted to build a house or two on their property.
Over 7,500 claims have been filed under Measure 37. While a majority of these claims seek the right to build just a few houses, some are for huge subdivisions, strip malls, rock quarries, and billboards on prime farm and forest lands - where they are currently not allowed.
Because the development rights created by Measure 37 can't be transferred to a new owner, the elderly Oregonians in the 2004 ads have difficulty building even a house or two. But corporations are able to pursue large developments without transferring the property.
Measure 49 preserves the core idea of Measure 37, but limits the scale of development to three home sites per property. Commercial and industrial uses, like billboards and quarries, would not be allowed.
Unless the property is on prime farm or forest land or in an area where groundwater wells are at risk of running dry, Measure 49 allows the owner to develop up to 10 home sites. Such an owner must prove an actual reduction in value from the land use regulation, based on a valid appraisal.
Measure 49 provides that these limited development rights can be transferred, so individual claimants can actually use them. But developers can't build the huge subdivisions that harm neighboring landowners.
In recent months I have appeared at many civic meetings to explain Measure 49, including several debates. The opponents of Measure 49 are resorting to misinformation in an attempt to defeat it.
They argue that Measure 49 repeals Measure 37. That is obviously not the case, since Measure 49 provides that everyone with a valid claim under Measure 37 will have the right to at least three home sites.
Opponents argue that Measure 49's reference to 'prohibition' creates a different standard than the use of 'restriction' in Measure 37. This argument attempts to confuse voters with a meaningless distinction. If home sites cannot be developed as a result of a land use regulation, there is a 'prohibition' and Measure 49 allows them.
They contend that landowners with existing Measure 37 claims must start all over under Measure 49. This is untrue. Within 120 days of passage, the state will notify every Measure 37 claimant of their options under Measure 49. Those desiring three or fewer need only tell the state how many they want. Those desiring four to ten home sites need only provide an appraisal in order to pursue their claim.
The misstatement by opponents I find most irritating is their assertion that no public hearings were held by the legislature on Measure 49. As co-chair of the committee that crafted Measure 49, I sat through nine public hearings at which 369 Oregonians from all parts of the state gave testimony.
Measure 49 delivers what Oregonians were promised by the campaign to pass Measure 37, but without the uncontrolled development hiding behind the 2004 ads. Don't be misled by bogus arguments against it. Vote yes on Measure 49.
I can be reached by e-mail at rep.gregmacpher
Rep. Greg Macpherson, Lake Oswego, represents Oregon House District 38.