"Do-overs" are rare in important matters of public policy, but that's what Oregon voters may get this fall if the Legislature gives us the chance to re-examine Measure 37.

There's no doubt that some of the damage done by Measure 37's unwise rollback of land-use protections is irreversible. The great rush toward subdividing and building on once-protected lands has already imposed added taxes and congestion on communities around the state. These costs will continue to accrue for decades.

But House Bill 3540 will give Oregonians a window of opportunity to resuscitate the heart of our heritage of sensible management of development. After the glimpse we've had in the past couple years of the damage Measure 37 can inflict, the special election authorized by HB3540 has a decent chance of stabilizing our communities within responsible limits.

Coupled with House Bill 3546, which provides local governments with an extra year of cushion before they have to confront Measure 37 claims, the Legislature's response is a moderate and democratic way to change Oregon's course before it's too late.

This proposed solution still allows a good deal more subdividing than would have been permissible pre-Measure 37. Property could be split into as many as 10 homesites, or three in areas where land is more appropriately kept as farm or forest and in areas that are drought-prone.

Even this seems like a great deal of development. It would fundamentally alter some rural areas statewide and throughout the Willamette Valley. For anyone with familiarity and affection for Oregon's days as a leader in the sensible land-use movement, these trade-offs still seem like the pebbles that start an avalanche.

But considering that 61 percent of Oregonians supported Measure 37, the Legislature's plan is a compromise we should be willing to accept. So should those who want more building.


Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.