DLCD starts Measure 49 claims – progress is slow

By Oregonians In Action Education Center, Looking Forward,

Remember the Measure 49 campaign?  Those trying to pass the measure made some very interesting promises.  Here’s a sample of some of the arguments that Measure 49 supporters put in the Voters’ Pamphlet:

— “Measure 49 protects the property rights of small individual landowners by immediately allowing them up to 3 houses on their property, if the law allowed it when they bought their land.”

— “Within 120 days of passage of Measure 49, claimants will receive a simple form from the state asking them to choose between the ‘fast track’ up to three homesites or – if they can prove property value loss, backed up with an appraisal –  4-10 homesites.  Then, the claimant may proceed with development.”

–“It helps the elderly claimants wanting to provide for their retirement or a place for their children.”

— “Measure 49 provides for an ‘express lane’ for individual owners, immediately allowing them up to three houses on their property outside urban areas.”

— “It offers fast track approvals for the over 1,821 land owners who have filed claims to build one to three homes on their property.”

And these quotes were from just the first 10 statements that appeared in the Voters’ Pamphlet.  Many more followed.

The point is obvious – Measure 49 was sold to the voters as a Measure 37 “compromise” that would allow property owners to fill out a simple form, check a couple of boxes, and immediately receive the benefits of Measure 49.

Unfortunately, the reality of Measure 49 is much different than the promises made to confuse voters into approving the Measure.

It has now been 10 months since Measure 49 became law.  Not one Measure 49 claim has been approved.  Not one.

And even when the state starts to approve the claims, that is not the end of the story.  Measure 49 claimants will then have to go through another round of land use applications and public hearings at the local level, in order to divide their property to create a lot or two to sell or keep.

Does this sound like an “express lane” to you?  How about a “fast track”?  Are these approvals “simple” or “immediate”?  Does this really help “elderly claimants” who can’t wait forever?

I don’t think so.

In September, the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) finally started issuing “preliminary evaluations” for a few Measure 49 claims.  The DLCD is the state agency charged with trying to keep the impossible promises made by the legislators and political groups that sponsored Measure 49 – talk about a thankless task.

As of September 15, the DLCD had issued 66 of these “preliminary evaluations.”  The DLCD appears to have sped up to the point where they are issuing approximately three evaluations a day.

Assuming that there are approximately 240 working days in a calendar year, that means that at their current pace, the DLCD will issue around 750 “preliminary evaluations” a year.

That may sound like a lot, until you realize that over 4,500 claims were filed under Measure 49.  At the DLCD’s current rate, it will be six years before they finish.

Apparently, six years is now considered a “fast track.”  If so, maybe I can have a six year “fast track” to pay my property tax bill, or to turn in my state income taxes.

Of course, Measure 37 claimants didn’t get six years to turn in their Measure 49 claims.  To the contrary, if you were a property owner who wanted to file a Measure 49 claim, you had 90 days to turn in your form, or you got nothing.

So the “little guy” who was supposed to benefit from Measure 49 got 90 days to try and decipher the Measure, fill out his form, and return it to the state, and the state has an unlimited amount of time to process the claim.

That doesn’t seem fair, probably because it isn’t.

And of course, the Measure 49 supporters led voters to believe that any property owner who filed a Measure 37 claim would get relief under Measure 49.  But we know that’s not true.  In fact, as people across the state have discovered, if you filed a M37 claim with the county but not the state, or vice versa, you get nothing under Measure 49.

In the meantime, our telephones have been ringing with calls from Measure 49 claimants wondering how much longer they are going to have to wait to get the “express” relief that they were promised.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a very good answer for them.

It is, however, about time that the claims process sped up, and the promises that were made are delivered.  To that end, Oregonians In Action will work with key legislators to introduce legislation in January (when the state legislature reconvenes) that imposes a hard and fast deadline on the processing of Measure 49 claims.  If a Measure 49 claimant was only given 90 days to complete their claim, then why does the state get an unlimited amount of time to decide?

In addition, we will ask legislators to introduce a bill to let every Measure 37 claimant file a Measure 49 claim, not just those who filed claims with both the state and county.

There is simply no excuse for taking so long to decide these “fast track” claims.  If the DLCD needs help, then the legislature should help them.  But a promise is a promise, and so far the legislators who backed Measure 49 aren’t keeping theirs.

Disclaimer: Articles featured on Oregon Report are the creation, responsibility and opinion of the authoring individual or organization which is featured at the top of every article.