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May 21, 2005

Send Oregon SB1037 back to committee.

[Sent to my state senator, Gary George 05/21/2005]

About two-thirds of Oregonians polled want both strong property rights and also strong protections for public interests in protecting farmland, a healthy environment and preserving wildlife habitat.

The only reasonable way to balance these is with good land use planning.  Land use planning has been good for Oregon's economy, good for our neighborhoods, and it protects family farms for farming while also saving wildlife habitat and precious water resources.

Polls of supporters of Measure 37 show it was a call for fair compensation for landowners particularly harmed by land use planning, primarly for personal home-building.  But it introduced extradordinary incursions into other values Oregonians hold on land-use.  It was not a vote for unrestrained sprawl across Oregon's farmland and landscapes.  It should not be used as an excuse to weaken safeguards that make Oregon a great place to live for all of us.

SB 1037 is well-intended, but it isn't well-balanced yet.  While it limits some Measure 37 claims, it gives away far more in exchange. SB 1037 will result in more lost farmland and more lost environmental values of clean water and air than simply implementing Measure 37.

SB 1037 doesn't protect the most valued farmland: vineyards, which have been a key engine of rural investment and growth in Oregon.  Without this protection, SB 1037 is a bad deal for Oregonians.

SB 1037 should instead focus on creating a fair compensation system, as the voters intended.  A workable system, modeled on programs in other states, proposes to use a small part of the windfalls some developers experience when property is moved inside an urban growth boundary in order to compensate those with valid Measure 37 claims.

Please vote to send SB1037 back to committee.  If that motion fails, please vote No on SB1037.

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