Monday’s Measure 37 forum turns to history


News staff writer

February 28, 2007

A Measure 37 discussion on Monday turned into a brief history lesson as both sides used the words of America’s founding fathers to back their viewpoints.

Steven Andersen, a private property rights advocate, was the first to take the podium at Dog River Coffee Company. The owner of Cascade Planning Associates has prepared almost all of the Measure 37 claims filed by local landowners.

Andersen told the 50-member audience that if the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Section 18 of the Oregon Bill of Rights had been followed in state land-use planning, Measure 37 would not have been necessary. He said 61 percent of voters statewide had marked their ballots in 2004 for “fairness” by reclaiming property rights.

Measure 37 opened an avenue for property owners to seek compensation from government agencies for restrictions that devalued land. In lieu of making that payment, regulatory bodies can restore the use allowed when the property was acquired.

Andersen referred to John Adams as one of the many founders who rejected a hereditary monarchy for a rule by the people. He then quoted Adams to sum up the present situation, “The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.

“What the Oregon Legislature needs to recognize is that a supermajority of voters said loudly and clearly that they are unhappy with the land-use system and it needs to change,” said Andersen.

Jeff Hunter, a member of the Hood River Valley Residents Committee and a local Realtor, then took an opposing stance. HRVRC, a land use watchdog group, has worked since 1981 to protect resource lands from development.

Hunter said the concept of private property rights in America had an English origin. He said the king had once owned all of the land but had provided his vassals and peasants with protection, which created a balance.

He said that system of governance broke down when the king demanded taxes from the new colonies, but was too far away to provide protection. However, Hunter said early settlers still acknowledged a responsibility to society as they acquired holdings. They recognized that property should not be used in a way that injured others, and that people had the right not to be “bothered” on their property. In addition they believed that the good of the people as a whole was the supreme law.

Hunter said Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin acknowledged that property rights needed to be balanced with the needs of society.

“Without government we don’t really have private property; we don’t have anyone to defend it,” said Hunter. “The challenge is to decide how to be fair to private property but conduct policy that is fair to all of us.”

Both Andersen and Hunter agreed that the Oregon Legislature played a key role in “fixing” the land use system.

Andersen said zoning laws had originally been enacted by cities — and he believed control needed to be returned to local governments. He said the state currently required even towns such as Granite, with a population of 12, to enact stringent land use guidelines.

“Local jurisdictions should be given the authority to develop their own plans and policies for management of growth without a state commission dictating to them,” said Andersen, who believed most issues could be resolve with “creative and innovative” thinking.

Hunter acknowledged that Measure 37 had highlighted a need to revamp Oregon’s centralized land use system. He suggested there be greater flexibility in allowing non-productive farm lands to be used for a limited number of home sites. And development rights transferred from an area unacceptable for development to a suitable location. However, Hunter said the state needs to hold the line against any massive development of resource land.

“If we start a process now to let our best farmland go into subdivisions, we’re going to start a process that we can’t stop,” he said.

The “coffee talk” discussion on Feb. 26 was organized by the Columbia Gorge Earth Center as part of its ongoing film and lecture series on topics of sustainability.

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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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