In a unamimous decision Tuesday, the Oregon Supreme Court upheld a voter-approved property rights law. Measure 37 ,as it was called when passed last fall by a strong State majority, requires governments to pay landowners for property value losses caused by regulations, else waive the regulation and let the owner develop the property in their best interest. In its opinion, “The people, in exercising their initiative power, were free to enact Measure 37 in furtherance of policy objectives such as compensating landowners,” wrote Chief Justice Paul DeMuniz.
In October of last year, Marion County Circuit Judge Mary James, claimed Measure 37 violated the state and federal constitutions. She ruled that the Measure strips the Legislature of its power, gives long-time landowners an unfair advantage and fails to give their neighbors a voice in the process.
The Supreme Court justices rebuked James, however, clearly stating that “we find none of these arguments persuasive.”
Clearly opponents of property rights in Oregon refuse to let this issue rest. The Oregonian reports,
The measure's chief opponent, 1000 Friends of Oregon, called on Oregon leaders Tuesday to somehow compensate claimants.The court decision is expected to be analyzed across the nation by other locales who looked to adopt this State's land use models. Now State and local governments must honor the conditions governing the land purchase, or compensate owners for lost value or damages done by overreaching regulation. Where no money has been set aside in cities, counties and state agencies for such contingencies, the rules must be waived. More than 2,500 applications to develop land controlled by government regulations are awaiting immediate approval.
Otherwise, director Bob Stacey said, this state will mar a landscape protected by three decades of careful planning. His group spearheaded the legal case against Measure 37 but has no plans to appeal the Supreme Court's opinion.
"The court has ruled," Stacey said. "But the people will decide whether this is fair." He said 1000 Friends will determine in the next few weeks whether to pursue a November ballot measure. The group has drafted proposals to prevent Measure 37 development that harms neighbors.