Democrats & Republicans agree on state land-use change need

Dave Hunnicutt
President, Oregonians In Action

Here is a clip from a speech given last month by State Representative Mitch Greenlick (D – Portland) on the floor of the Oregon House of Representatives:

The bill that Representative Greenlick was opposing was House Bill 3465, a bill designed to allow a single destination resort in Grant County. As Representative Greenlick notes, the Oregon legislature should not be the place to make individual land use decisions.

Representative Greenlick is right. Bills like HB 3465 would be unheard of in the other 49 states, where land use decisions are made by local officials who understand the needs of the communities. In this circumstance, it is Grant County and its citizens who should decide on the destination resort, not state legislators from every corner of the state.

But it’s the rest of Representative Greenlick’s speech that is important. As Representative Greenlick notes, the legislature needs to change Oregon land use laws to make job creation and economic development more viable for rural Oregon.

No kidding. Oregon’s highest unemployment rates are in Oregon’s rural areas. Our land use laws, and the miszoning of thousands of acres of land as farmland or forestland, make job creation in rural Oregon extremely difficult. It’s time we debate whether those laws make sense, and change them to give our rural areas a fighting chance.

This is not a speech by a conservative Republican. Representative Greenlick is a Portland Democrat, and is considered one of the most liberal members of the legislature. As he indicated at the beginning of his speech, he supports Oregon’s land use laws, and has done so during his entire tenure in the legislature, including time serving on the House Land Use Committee.

But even those who like Oregon’s very unique land use system are now realizing that rural Oregon must have some breathing room and flexibility that simply isn’t present under the current law.

It’s time for the legislature to follow Representative Greenlick’s advice, and fix Oregon’s broken land use laws to help our rural areas. We’ve been saying this for years. If the legislature won’t do it, then the people should do so by ballot measure.

How much longer do rural Oregonians have to wait?


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.