City should contribute to LOC's battle against Measure 7

March 09, 2001 12:00 am

Baker Citys council declined to do two things related to the much-in-the-news Measure 7, a voter approved anti-takings law thrown out by a Marion County judge.

First, the council opted not to approve drafting a letter criticizing the League of Oregon Cities for its vigorous litigation against Measure 7, a plan promoted by councilors Chuck Phegley and Jeff Petry.

And second, the council refused to contribute to a fund defraying the cost of said litigation roughly $195,000, far more than the league had budgeted this year for legal fees.

We think the city should reconsider.

Measure 7 would create a legal means of redress for property owners who believe government regulations have adversely impacted the value of their property.

For Baker City, that means property owners could argue restrictions in zoning code constitute a government taking of part of that lands value. Cities could choose to pay landowners for lost value, or change the law that triggered the taking.

Baker City responsibly prepared and passed an ordinance detailing how claims under Measure 7 would be handled. This ordinance took effect before last months court decision nullifying Measure 7, and remains in effect pending appeals related to Measure 7.

But passing the ordinance which details how claims amounts would be determined, and includes a clause allowing the city to waive regulations cited in a claim put the city in danger: the land use group 1000 Friends of Oregon named Baker City and other towns in a lawsuit challenging the Measure 7-related ordinance.

The League of Oregon Cities successful court battle against Measure 7 not only saves the city the anticipated expense of answering claims, but the expense of battling the 1000 Friends in court. And that is a service well worth paying for.

Certainly, councilors Phegley and Petry have a point voters favored Measure 7, so the city shouldnt go against the will of the voters.

But the League advocates in the best interest of cities, who must answer to all of their taxpayers. Under Measure 7, as written, the interest of all taxpayers in seeing city services delivered in a cost effective manner would be compromised.

We advise a $2,500 contribution to the League, the suggested amount for cities of 10,000 population or less.