Friday, January 29, 2010

Killing our competitiveness

The evidence is accumulating daily, so much so that it is seeping into local media coverage and even the race for Metro President:

Oregon's land-use laws are killing our economy. Just in the last few days, more stories have emerged:
  • Democrat Rep. Peter Buckley from Ashland is trying to help a large southern Oregon orchard operator survive by allowing 1000 acres of its fallow land near urban areas in southern Oregon to be developed. The company is struggling under a large debt load and would use some of the proceeds to make its balance sheet healthier. All the usual land use groups oppose it. Prime farmland! they say.
  • In today's Oregonian, columnist Andy Parker talks about the race for Metro President, in which all three candidates are talking about how Metro needs to do a better job of "economic development." The only candidate who really has any clue at all is former Hillsboro mayor Tom Hughes, but the other two candidates know which way the wind is blowing, so they have to recreate themselves. So now Rex Burkholder is trying to talk intelligently about job creation! (Breaking news - he can't.)
  • This farmer out side of Wilsonville wants Oregon land use laws to lock down all the area around his farm for a half-century so his kid can farm it after he dies.
The common thread here is that Oregon's land use laws are killing our economy. We pretend that bureaucrats and planners somehow have superior knowledge about productive use of land than the owners. In reality, the laws just give preservationist no-growth pressure groups a legal bludgeon with which to get their way.

For years, folks like Rex Burkholder and Bob Stacey, two candidates for Metro President, have been at the forefront of this Soviet-style planning system. So it is laughable to see them now try to lip-sync a "jobs" tune.

But the real problem is the land use system itself. Pretending that Metro will somehow reshape itself to have an economic development focus is just dreaming.

Metro, and the land use system it has fed off for thirty years IS THE PROBLEM.

Will Oregon leaders ever figure this out? I doubt it. This is about world view and ideology. That doesn't change. We have competing world views in our political leadership, and one has held power in Oregon for going on three decades. The long-term damage of that view is coming home to roost.

It will have to be defeated.


Anonymous said...


It really captures the invasive nature of how the well meaning origins of this system have mutated into a monster. Where did you get it?

OregonGuy said...

Remember "Oregon's Big Look"?

How'd that work out?

Anonymous said...

I'd like to ask the Marxist Buckley how, after years of being a land use Nazi, he decides to loosen up laws to encourage development.

Will he now admit Oreogon's land use laws stifle the economy? Will he now fight for land use rights?

The answer is no. He probably has some financial tie to Harry and David and has to grease them to stay on their good side -- just like a good, corrupt politician.

Chris McMullen

Anonymous said...

There is only solution:



Huck said...

Land use law protects the farming industries, which are very important in the Willamette valley. It has been poorly applied in Central and Eastern Oregon, however, and has gone through significant adjustment even in areas it worked well.

It does, however, seem to help the currently-rich relative to those aspiring to become rich.

I dunno, I think in 200 years we'll look back and it will appear to have protected a lot of valuable resources while our understanding of the environmental and economic impacts of development greatly improved. Developments done in the next 20 years will be vastly superior in terms of resource conservation than those that would have been allowed in the past 40.