LAND USE/PROPERTY RIGHTS CONCERNS OF THE OREGONIANS IN ACTION ORGANIZATIONS
The basic concerns of Oregonians In Action and the separate OIA organizations (OIA Education Center, OIA Legal Center, and OIA Political Action Committee) are excessive land use regulations that “take” private property without compensation. Under court decisions, regulations can take up to 95% of the use and value of private property without compensation to the property owner.
Such over-regulation violates our most basic civil rights — the rights of individuals to own and use their property without undue interference from government. Over-regulation also causes adverse impacts that hurt everyone else, including loss of use and mis-use of land and resources, job losses, artificial scarcity of land, and reduction of tax revenues needed for schools and public services.
Obviously, some land use regulations are needed, such as those that protect the public interest in air, water and safety. But, the power to regulate is being misused. Regulations are being used to limit land uses and acquire interests in private land to provide public benefits, as a substitute for buying such interests.
Here are some examples of misuse of regulatory power:
* Mis-zoning of millions of acres of rural land. Instead of zoning the “prime” farm land as intended, LCDC, the state land use agency, zoned 97% of all private rural land into highly restrictive farm and forest zones, with little or no regard to productivity of the land. Millions of acres of nonproductive and marginal land have been miszoned, denying owners and the public the benefits of alternative uses, such as rural living.
* Denying farmers the right to live on their own land. LCDC imposed excessive gross farm income requirements to qualify for a farm dwelling, denying many farmers the right to live on their own land and make it productive.
* Forcing high density living in urban areas. Over-regulation needlessly forces people into cities, mandates higher densities, blocks needed street and highway additions and improvements, and prohibits orderly expansion of urban areas — thereby increasing traffic congestion and gridlock, making housing unaffordable and impairing quality of life.
* Taking private land to provide public benefits. Cities and counties (and state and federal agencies) are imposing all sorts of land use restrictions on private land to provide public benefits, such as habitat for wildlife, open space, wetlands, and riparian areas — without compensating landowners for the loss of use and value. The Endangered Species Act poses grave threats; it is being used to impose land use controls without proof species are endangered, or that the controls are needed.
* Using permitting authority for “extortion” purposes. Cities and counties are unfairly requiring applicants for building permits to give up land, pay fees or make other concessions as a “condition” to granting the permit. Even though OIA Legal Center has secured a U.S. Supreme Court decision (the Dolan case) outlawing conditions that are not roughly proportional to the impact of the development, some cities and counties still engage in extortion practices.
* Oregon’s land use regulatory system is too top-down, too complex, too inflexible, and too costly. There are too many state-imposed, one-size-fits-all, inflexible regulations. The system was intended to simplify and expedite land use decisions, but it has become too complex, time-consuming and costly. Fees are excessive. Procedures are too cumbersome and too easily used to stop land uses of all kinds.