Well, measure 49 passed Tuesday. Measure 49 tweaks 2004’s measure 37, which tweaked 2000’s measure 7 which attempted to tweak the landmark land use laws passed in the seventies. Back when Governor Tom McCall told out of staters “we really appreciate your visit” with the emphasis on visit.
It doesn’t solve all the problems but it’s a start. It green lights the small projects and forces the owners of large tracts to at least submit appraisals to back up their claims for compensation if they aren't allowed to develop their property the way they want to. The largest contributor on the anti side was a lumber company whose development claims reportedly totalled nearly 50,000 acres. The largest contributor on the pro side was a vineyard owner who has been doing very nicely in the post seventies era, thank you and would like to continue to do so.
One nice advantage to investing in our own entertainment is that I at least didn’t have to listen to the pro and con ads for it. Even though I supported it. I laugh, because it beats crying, when I listen to complaints about government interference in property rights. Hell, one level or other of the government hired help has been “interfering” from day one.
It’s a bit late in the day to go “well you stole it fair and square and I eventually bought it, so now I can do what I want or be compensated for government interference.” ??????????? Frankly this whole extreme property rights movement that bubbled up in the eighties (another thing we can thank Reagan and company for) makes me just a little sick. Make that a lot sick. I wish I could find a copy of the old Jack Ohman cartoon featuring Reagan’s secretary of the Interior, James Watt, He’s standing in a landscape of endless stumps and calling it a forest. Government “interference” made the land available for homesteading and logging in the first place.
The US either took the land of tribes wiped out by disease or hunted around until they found a “chief” that would sign a treaty giving up land that wasn’t theirs to sign away in the first place. If that didn’t work, eventually the tribes would fight back and find the survivors herded onto reservations. Even then the hired help didn’t abide by the treaties that were signed.
The elected and appointed hired help, whether on the local, county, state or federal level has interfered from the get go. The feds took the land and passed the Homestead Act. The feds looked the other way while the rail road king pins decided which little town would live or die and charged rip gut freight charges to the ones that were left.
Federal taxes and support created the Interstate Highway system. Miles and miles of straight line asphalt and concrete that bypassed all the little towns and left them to dry out like raisins on a dying grape vine. Miles of freeway so you could get to someplace that started to look just like what you left behind. And get there as quickly as possible.
And what did we get in return? Fast food, fast shopping and “cities” in the southwest with no civic center. If you plunked an ancient Athenian or even a Spartan down in the middle of one of these, they’d probably argue it wasn’t a city at all. Not marketplace or central place where the citizens could gather and make the laws in sight. No temples to the Gods or Goddesses. I forgot, the temples are there. I just doubt that any Athenian would recognize a strip mall as a temple, though. We’re left with a collection of people whose only tie to each other is the freeway that brought them there.
The Bonneville Power Administration built dams that turned on the lights in the Pacific Northwest and made it possible ship goods by water from Idaho to the Pacific Rim. The dams also drowned the fishing grounds at Celilo Falls and put several nails in the coffin of the Northwest salmon runs that supported the most complex non agricultural communities of Native Americans in this hemisphere. In the fifties the feds decertified some of the remaining tribes, parceled out some of the land too "former" tribal members and took what was left. No land, no fish, no game, a remnants of a people, dying languages and endless casinos catering to the people who took the land in the first place. Interference, what interference?
You may have figured out by now that I have very little patience for big anybody prattling about rights for the little guy in a thinly veiled attempt to get even more, leaving the rest of us with less. Especially when the only real right we seem to have left is the right to buy what they want to sell us. It's interesting that this measure passed by the same percentage as Measure 37, about 65 percent for, 35 percent against. Yes, the urban counties around Portland and Eugene led the way. But it passed further up the valley, over on the coast and in the grain and orchard country east of the Cascades.
But, in an era when oil is flirting with $100.00 a barrel and gas is over $3.00 a gallon, the last thing we need is more sprawl. Oregon, Washington and Idaho help the balance of payments in this country with our unsurpassed apples, peaches, pears, strawberries and other produce. We raise and export wheat and other grains. Heck, we have closer ties to the other side of the Pacific Rim than we do with the east coast. Our vineyards are producing wines as good as and sometimes better than the imports from Europe. We can't give the land back to the Native Americans but we can save it for their children and ours.