More on greed

February 25, 2005 at 5:39 am (Planning, Portland)

In 1974, Gov. Tom McCall signed Senate Bill 100, which established Oregon's innovative land use planning system. Drafted by rural legislators intent on saving farmland, Act 100 imposed several requirements on municipalities. Among them were comprehensive zoning and the establishment of Urban Growth Boundaries. All substantial development must occur within the UGB, and the UGB must be large enough to accommodate 20 years of expected growth. So in rural areas, with maybe a gas station and a general store, the urban growth area is very small, and there are entire counties (counties are big out here) zoned almost exclusively as farmland, forest, etc. It was a major accomplishment, and if you drive around Oregon you will see dense, pedestrian friendly cities and a notable lack of cookie-cutter subdivisions and strip malls. It is the best thing to ever happen to the state.
A drawback should seem obvious. If I am a farmer who is retiring, and I want to divide up and sell my land to a developer, I can't. Well technically I could, but the developer couldn't do anything with it. This has become a particularly contentious point, especially among such civic-minded Oregonians as the CEOs of Target and Wal-mart. They were just outraged that I couldn't sell my farm…until now.
In November ballot measure 37 passed. It requires local governments to compensate land owners when regulations decrease property value, or waive the regulation. Sounds reasonable. But it is so broad that it applies to all zoning and land use regulations. There are a few exeptions, often for "moral" reasons: if I want to be gay in a county that is zoned exclusively Christian, I am out of luck. But if I want to open an aluminum smelter next to an elementary school in a residential neighborhood, goddammit that's my Constitutional right! ("LALALALA FREEDOM FREEDOM NINE ELEVEN" said the Republican representative with his fingers in his ears.)
Of course it is an unfunded mandate. If I divide my 1000 acre farm into quarter-acre lot fast track housing units and want to sell them for 50 grand each, well the county better waive the ordinance preventing dense housing on my land, or hand over 200 million dollars. Obviuosly, that's not going to happen, so the clear intent of Measure 37 is to overturn decades of land use policy in Oregon.
Which brings me to my point. Why do people think they have absolute ownership of their land, and should be able to do whatever they want with it? Nothing else is like that. Government regulates what, where, and when we can drive, what countries we can visit, how and when to tax us, even what we can eat and drink to a certain extent. And conservatives tend to support these restrictions (think Cuba and prohibition). Why should land be any different? If I ask a supporter of 37 where she lives, I'll bet one of her first responses will be Oregon. Does that not give the state some sort of implicit claim to your land? When you die, it won't be yours anymore, but it will still be in Oregon.
If they have their way, pro-37 folks will be complaining in a few years that the Wal-mart, McDonald's and Payless Shoe Outlet opening across the valley are obstructing their views and corrupting the young people. Not that everybody supports these outcomes–I don't think people knew what they were voting for. People are really stupid.
Get rich quick!


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Bear tax? This is an outrage!

February 25, 2005 at 2:56 am (Rant)

I'm getting really sick of people demanding services they refuse to pay for. You know the type: they spent their $300 "rebate" on gas for their Explorer, complain when the state raises the income tax to make up for the huge cuts in federal aid to cities, then file for bankruptcy because they can't pay off their credit card bills. ("But Wal-mart gave me a 5% employee discount on that plasma TV! It was a great deal!")
For example, a group of Portland parents is loudly protesting a recent decision to close 6 city schools. I can't say I blame them. But undoubtedly some of them are the same people who the county is suing for not paying the 1% income tax enacted last year to boost school funding. Or, the people who refuse to pass a funding initiative for a commuter rail extension, twice, and are now whining about not getting a commuter rail extension. Just wait a few decades, and these people will be crying because their retirement funds didn't withstand the massive stock market crash of 2017.

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February 22, 2005 at 4:56 am (Uncategorized)

I watched 24 tonight. I saw a few previews for it during football season (6,374 actually) and I promised myself I wouldn't watch it, but I did. Now I'm hooked. I don't know what I'll do next term when I have class on Monday nights. Fail out of school I guess.
My favorite thing about the show is that Fox has finally broken the taboo about identifying Islamic extremists as "the enemy." I stopped watching James Bond movies because of their insistence that the Soviets still exist. Of course the MSM, and even most bloggers (except perhaps Charles Johnson, for whom I have an odd combination of admiration and absolute disgust) refer to the "war on (Islamic) terrorism," with the Islamic always parenthetical and delivered with a nudge nudge, wink wink. Hopefully that will change–at least it will make fictional action TV shows more interesting. And what more can a red-blooded American ask for? But just in case, I will keep my eyes open for that roving band of Presbyterian extremists I heard about.

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