OIA delivers land use report

A report on the “good, bad and ugly” of Oregon land-use regulations was delivered to Hood River residents on Wednesday.

Bill Moshofsky from Oregonians in Action, a private property rights advocacy group, facilitated the land-use forum that drew 20 citizens. He blamed the state’s severe revenue shortfalls, in part, on over-regulation of private property — especially in rural areas.

Moshofsky said of the 25 million acres of rural land, 97 percent was designated as highly restricted farm and forest zones, without regard to productivity. He said it was clear that the primary objective of this “miszoning” was to force people to live in cities, which reduced their quality of life by creating traffic gridlock and forcing more dwellings to be built on smaller lots.

He said severe restrictions on private property was especially harmful to the economy since 55 percent of Oregon’s land-base was under public ownership with limited use. He said the OIA, based in Tigard, is seeking to bring balance to state regulations so that natural resources are protected without blocking development and stifling job growth.

“We’re trying to visit more communities because, surprisingly, people still don’t know the extent that government has stepped in and taken away their rights,” said Moshofsky, who had also met with residents from The Dalles earlier that day.

Although rural Oregonians have borne the brunt of having property devalued without compensation, Moshofsky said the same measures are now being taken in urban areas through the state’s Goal 5 mapping process for riparian areas, wetlands and wildlife habitat. He said it was ironic to have people being channeled into cities and then adding development restrictions in areas designated for high density living.

According to Moshofsky, cities and counties are required by the Division of State Lands to complete a Goal 5 inventory of “significant” sites within their jurisdiction. However, he said these entities do not have to adopt measures that will adversely affect property owners. Both the City of Hood River and Hood River County have recently undertaken the mapping process but neither have adopted a regulatory ordinance.

“The OIA has taken the position that if a city or county wants to use your land for conservation easements they ought to buy it out of fairness,” Moshofsky said.

He said an initiative is slated for the November 2004 ballot that will require state and local governments to conduct economic studies and get landowner approval of a regulation if it reduces the value of affect property by more than 10 percent. In addition, the “son of 7” initiative will appear on the same ballot, requiring compensation for regulatory takings.

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