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May 18, 2005

Re: Property rights, farm preservation top concerns [Capital Press]

[Submitted to the Capital Press 05/18/2005]

To the Editor:

After reading the actual poll results on Oregonian's land-use values referred to in your story "Property rights, farm preservation top concerns", I beg to differ with your emphasis on some sort of greater support to property rights that would validate Measure 37.

The survey showed as strong support (within sampling error) for farmland protections, the environment and wildlife habitat (all "public goods") as for "private rights".

68% said that growth management makes Oregon a more desirable place to live.

68% preferred planning-based decisions for land-use over market-based decisions.

Ultimately, the survey shows Oregonians very much want a good land-use system of both public benefits and private rights.  They'd like to see people have more flexibility for personal-use home-building but are not in favor of allowing other non-planned uses (only a minority support Measure 37 waivers of other land-use laws); they would like to see more periodic review of land-use laws.

They felt that personal home-building restrictions were too restrictive.  They now feel that Measure 37 took it out of balance in a different way by waiving other land-use laws.  They do recognize that we can't get the desired public benefits by waiving the laws, and that land-use planning is a good thing for Oregon.

In fact, the survey's authors own concluding words in their summary are that,

"Oregonians recognize a fundamental value in property rights.  They also want to protect the environment and recognize land use policies make the state a better place to live.  The challenge is to strike a balance between diverse but strong values.  It will force policy makers to establish a clear set of objectives while maintaining fairness toward landowners and flexibility in land use policy implementation."

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