Senate Moves Property Rights Measure Forward

Article excerpt

Byline: David Steves The Register-Guard

SALEM - An overhaul of Oregon's property rights law was all but ensured a place on the ballot Tuesday when the Senate approved it on a party-line vote.

The measure, House Bill 3540, was approved by all 18 Democrats as well as the chamber's independent legislator. It now returns to the House, which could vote to accept Senate changes to its bill as early as today.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski, whose top aides helped craft the bill, plans to sign it. Companion legislation referring HB 3540 to the ballot and establishing an election date has yet to pass. Advocates in the Legislature are leaning toward a November election.

The bill represents the Democratic majority's response to Measure 37, the 2004 initiative passed by voters. That law lets landowners seek compensation or a waiver to land use and zoning laws enacted after their acquisition of the property.

More than 7,000 claims have been filed under Measure 37, half of which were made in the final five weeks before a Dec. 4 deadline.

The 24-page bill, which cleared the House in May and which the Senate adjusted, is intended by its authors to create a framework to address some of the uncertainties of the original ballot measure's two-page text. Among other things, it would:

Create an "express line" so people can build up to three houses on a parcel of land under Measure 37 without demonstrating a loss in value because of government regulations.

Set out rules for a claimant to build up to 10 homes on one site if they can show how the government had diminished the value of their property.

Land that is zoned for high-value farm or forest use - primarily in the Willamette and Hood River valleys - or that lacks an adequate water supply would not necessarily be approved for development. …