All Quiet (Unfortunately) On The Measure 49 Front

By Dave Hunnicutt,
Oregonians In Action

For those of you expecting a quick decision on your Measure 49 claim, you are unfortunately in for some disappointing news. As we have chronicled in past editions of Looking Forward, the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) is having a difficult time processing the 4,500 Measure 49 claims filed by Oregon property owners in a timely manner.

The problems are twofold.  First, the language of Measure 49 itself requires the DLCD to conduct a detailed review of each Measure 49 claim submitted, rather than simply being able to rely upon the Measure 37 decision that has already been approved.

The detailed review entails work from both the DLCD and the Oregon Department of Justice, meaning that claims are often bogged down between two different agencies.

In addition, the DLCD initially had trouble hiring new staff to process the large volume of claims submitted.  And now that the DLCD has increased staffing levels to process the claims more quickly, Governor Ted Kulongoski is proposing to cut the positions that the DLCD just filled as part of the budget cuts due to the economic slowdown in Oregon.

In short, the “express” lane that was promised by the politicians and environmental groups who advocated for passage of Measure 49 is not “express” at all, despite good intentions by those who are charged with carrying out the program.

Will this change in the future?  I don’t think so.  In fact, if the DLCD staffing positions are cut, the “express” path will become even slower.  I have been telling people that the wait in some instances will be years – I think that prediction may come true.

That does not mean, however, that the news is all bad.  OIA is actively pursuing legislation this session that will provide relief for hundreds of property owners who were mistakenly shut out of the Measure 49 process.

OIA will also seek to speed up the claims process for the current Measure 49 claimants, making it easier for the state to rely upon the Measure 37 decisions that have already been made.

Finally, OIA will pursue changes to Measure 49 that clarify the opportunities for claimants to immediately pass their Measure 49 rights on to new purchasers of their property, and we will advocate for the continued funding of the claims positions at DLCD – Governor Kulongoski can find many other cost savings to offset the cost of the staff working to decide these claims.

There is no guarantee in the current legislative climate that any of these bills will pass.  However, the same legislators who worked so hard to convince the public that Measure 49 would help the “little guy” who filed a Measure 37 claim should be the first ones to advocate for the changes we propose – after all, if you’re going to make a promise, you ought to try and keep it, even if you are a politician.

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