Yes on Measure 49

October 30, 2007 12:00 am

The passage of Measure 37 three years ago was an important victory for Oregon property owners whose ability to divide or otherwise develop their land was limited, or outright prohibited, due to land-use laws.

Measure 49 would be an even bigger win.

Oregon voters will decide on Measure 49 in this fall's election; ballots for the by-mail election are due Nov. 6.

Measure 49, which is one of two statewide measures on the Nov. 6 ballot, keeps the parts that helped Measure 37 garner the approval of 60 percent of Oregon voters — 72 percent in Baker County — and majorities in 35 of the state's 36 counties (Benton County was the lone exception).

But Measure 49 also scraps some of the less-savory provisions of Measure 37.

Measure 49 favors the relatively small-scale property owners who were, in effect, the poster children for Measure 37. These are people who want to divide their land into 10 or fewer home sites, who could have done so when they bought their property, but who lost that privilege due to a land-use law that the state or a local government subsequently passed.

Measure 49 would help these landowners more than Measure 37 does. The new measure simplifies the application process for people who want to carve out three or fewer home sites, and it allows as many as 10 home sites for landowners who can prove that land-use restrictions slashed their property's value so much as to justify the larger number of homes. Measure 49 does set a limit of three homes on parcels deemed high-value farmland or forest, or that are within a groundwater-restricted area.

The new Measure 37 also allows landowners to transfer their development rights to surviving spouses, and to sell those rights to new owners (in the latter case the new owner would have to exercise the Measure 37 rights within 10 years, or forfeit the rights). Neither option is available now.

Measure 49 would prohibit certain types of commercial and industrial development that are, at least in theory, allowed now.

We believe that a majority of Oregonians who voted for Measure 37 did not want to pave the way for corporations to transform thousand-acre swathes of land into sprawling subdivisions, factories and shopping malls.

But voters did want to ensure that longtime property owners who have modest plans to develop their property would not suffer unduly due to land-use laws that took effect after they bought their property.

Measure 49 does that. We encourage voters to support it.