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.
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.