How will Measure 37 affect the Scenic Area?


News staff writer

April 26

Two Measure 37 claims filed by Hood River County property owners have sparked a legal challenge over the new law’s application in the National Scenic Area.

On Monday, the Columbia River Gorge Commission filed a lawsuit in Hood River Circuit Court asking for clarification on the issue. Central to that action is the Measure 37 claim filed on Jan. 4 by Paul D. Mansur and another claim submitted by Stephan Struck on Feb. 13 and then amended and resubmitted on April 6.

“The Commission believes Measure 37 does not apply to the Scenic Area land use regulations,” said Martha Bennett, the bistate entity’s executive director. “At the same time, we know there are people in Oregon who believe it should apply.”

One of those believers is Oregonians in Action, the property rights advocacy group that authored Measure 37. The new law passed by a 61 percent margin statewide in the November general election and went into effect on Dec. 2. Measure 37 requires government agencies to either compensate landowners for regulations that devalue their property or waive the “offending” restriction.

“We’ll look forward to having this issue clarified in court,” said Ross Day, OIA director of legal affairs.

Bennett said the Commission is also looking forward to having the matter addressed in court with OIA, Friends of the Columbia Gorge and the three Oregon counties where Measure 37 applies.

She said Hood River, Wasco and Multnomah counties have all agreed that a legal answer to the Scenic Area question would be helpful before they have to decide whether to approve or deny a Measure 37 claim.

Under the 180-day timeline of the new law, Hood River County will have to make a decision on Mansur’s claim by June 6, or he can take his case to court and seek to recoup attorney fees. Bennett is hopeful that a legal hearing over Measure 37’s validity in the Scenic Area will take place before that deadline.

She said the Commission has concluded that Measure 37 does not apply in the Scenic Area based on section (3)(C) of the new law. The Commission believes the Scenic Area is exempt from Measure 37 since claims do not apply “to the extent the land use regulation is required to comply with federal law.”

The Commission believes Measure 37 claims are then invalid in the Scenic Area since land use is regulated by the National Scenic Area Act, which became law in November of 1986.

“Part of the intent of Congress in passing the Act and requiring a single management plan is to create uniform rules across all six Gorge counties and in both states. Applying Measure 37 in the three Oregon counties would violate this Congressional intent. We are not ‘for or against’ Measure 37, we are trying to best carry out the purposes of federal and state law,” said Bennett.

However, Day said the Act does not require that a Gorge Commission be formed to administer Scenic Area guidelines — that is left up to the discretion of Oregon and Washington. And since the Commission is entirely funded by state dollars and set up through a bistate compact, he contends that it is a state agency.

That same opinion was registered in 2001 by the Oregon Legislative Counsel. Sen. Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, sought out that ruling in his quest to ensure that the Commission’s following proper protocol in its decision-making processes. According to the legislative counsel, the Commission was overseeing federal law but was accountable for its actions to each state.

The Hood River County properties at the heart of the Measure 37 lawsuit are zoned for agricultural use within a General Management Area that is subject to federal development restrictions. Mansur has owned his Lois Drive property since September of 1978 and wants to divide the .059 acre parcel into two buildable lots. In lieu of having that right, he is asking for $120,000 in compensation.

Struck’s family has owned the 6.75 acres on Morton Road since 1895, and he acquired it in 1975. He wants to divide the riverfront property into three buildable lots, or be compensated for $1.5 million.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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