The Oregon Legislature convenes on February 1. Already, approximately 1500 proposed bills have been filed, and we expect another 1500 to be field soon after the start of the session.  So far, about 10% relate to land use.  Below we highlight the key bills we will be supporting and opposing. 

We will add to this list as the session moves forward, so please check back to this page for updates.  And, please let us know if you would like to receive legislative alerts as we go through the session. Click here to add you name.

2017 Legislative Testimony

Stay up to date on 1000 Friends of Oregon testimony this legislative session.

HB 2144 - 1000 Friends supports the general goals of HB 2144, however we are recommending a critical change to one of the provisions that forgives grandfathered nonconforming uses when the property owner did not acquire the necessary permits at the time of the development.
HB 2095 - This bill would enable Metro to do one or several relatively small UGB expansions for residential development in mid -cycle. 1000 Friends wants to make sure that the parameters for expansion are as narrow as possible. 
‚ÄčHB 2106 - 1000 Friends' opposition to HB 2106 is focused on Sections 14 and 15, which would allow mining as an outright use on farmland in Eastern Oregon counties. 
SB 5527 - The DLCD Budget. We support this budget as a minimum, but also encourage extra funding in support of land use goal 10 - Housing. 
HB 2745 - We support this proposal that authorizes intergovernmental entities, upon approval by the elected officials and voters of the affected jurisdictions, to levy property taxes for transit services that can be designed to meet the needs of each community in the region.   
HB 2937 and HB 2938 - These proposals open up our rural lands to housing development inconsistent with the intended purpose of the Rural Reserves or Exclusive Farm Use lands. 
HB 2893 - We oppose this bill which would allow lands with Class VII and VIII soils to automatically move to the top of the list for UGB expansions and urban reserve designations, regardless of their current productivity or contribution to the area’s agricultural industry.
HB 2012 - We support this bill as for an integrated, multi-agency evaluation of economic development issues and opportunities for a defined region of Eastern Oregon along the Idaho border.
HB 2693 - We fully support youth transit. This bill will provide critical transportation support to high school aged youth.
SB 1 - Helping create stable and safe farm worker housing is a must for our agricultural community. 
HB 5540 - Funding support for Amtrak is a good investment for Oregon.
HB 1024 - We oppose mandatory approval of additional housing in rural zones.
SB 418 - This bill adds unnecessary redundancy to the UGB review process. We don't think it's needed.
HB 3373 - We support this bill to enable the Department of Land Conservation and Development and the Oregon Housing & Community Services office to collaborate in support of Oregon cities and towns housing goals. 
UPDATE: HB 3373 Passed the Housing and Human Services Committee unanimously.  
SB 1048 - We oppose this attempt to further parcel of farm and forest lands which opens up the potential for urbanization and incompatible uses of our precious resource lands.
SB 186 - Removes rural reserves designations in Washington and Clackamas Counties. This is a land grab that flouts public process and the best interests of the region's farming industry.  

Transportation for Oregon's Future:
Oregon needs modern transportation options

Oregon needs to compete in the 21st century. Our state must move beyond the old highways-focused approach and invest in one that is people-focused. All Oregonians deserve a transportation system that provides options for how to meet their daily needs – with safe places to walk and bike, convenient transit, and well-maintained roads and bridges.  Over ¼ of Oregonians do not drive, and more would prefer not to. Yet for too long, Oregon has neglected to invest in safe and accessible ways for our youth, older people, the transit-dependent, and those with physical challenges to get to work, school, and stores.  Oregon spends less on transit than almost any other state in the US.

The Legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee held hearings around the state this past summer, and in every corner of the state they heard from Oregonians demanding transit, walking, and biking options.

Transit looks different in different places, but Oregonians from Portland to Baker City to Astoria need adequate, stable funding to meet the needs of workers, students, older adults, and the transit-dependent. 2017 is when the Legislature must change that for all Oregonians. Better transit service, walking and biking options statewide also reduces climate pollution, allows people to live more affordably, and grows the economy.  That’s why 1000 Friends will be working to pass a package of transportation initiatives that includes:

  • Transit funding to meet increasing demand and connect communities
  • Safe Routes to School for Oregon’s children
  • Youth transit
  • Safer streets, sidewalks and crosswalks
  • Connected bike networks
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions through better transportation planning
  • Fixing our deteriorating roads and bridges first

To learn more, check out our coalition one-pager
Visit our coalition site
Get Social: #transport4OR  
Get Involved
Read 1000 Friends Testimony in support of HB 2745, which works to find creative funding solutions for local transit issues. 

HB 3249
Invest in the Future of Oregon Agriculture

1000 Friends joins a diverse consortium of organizations in support of the Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program bill.  The goals of this program include helping landowners maintain working farms and ranches, providing incentives and support for conservation benefits on those lands, and helping grow Oregon’s next generation of farmers.  Bill elements are expected to include:

  • Tools and incentives to protect working farms and ranches while maintaining or enhancing fish and wildlife habitat or other natural resource values, such as conservation easements, term conservation covenants, and conservation management plans. 
  • Assistance with farm succession planning, including bringing new farmers into the industry.
  • A study of tax issues impacting agricultural land

Read our testimony in support of the Oregon Agriculture Heritage Program
Read our coalition testimony in support of the Oregon Agriculture Heritage Program    

Support HB 2007
Housing For All

Communities across Oregon are facing challenges in providing housing for all.  HB 2007 is the bill of House Speaker Rep. Tina Kotek. It takes significant steps towards implementing land use Goal 10, by making abundant, diverse, and more affordable housing available to more people of all ages, ability, income, and backgrounds in every neighborhood.  HB 2007 does this by:

  • Streamlining local government procedures to make it easier to provide more housing, and especially affordable housing, in all Oregon communities.
  • Directing the Department of Land Conservation & Development to study the amount of time cities take to decide housing applications, identify barriers to speedier decisions, and report back to the Legislature.
  • Strengthening requirements for clear & objective review standards for housing developments.
  • Recognizing that “families” come in all sizes, ages, and socio-economic backgrounds, and the notion of a “single family zone” as a neighborhood with only larger detached homes on larger lots must catch-up with today’s families.  Therefore, HB 2007 -2 provides that accessory dwelling units and duplexes can’t be prohibited in single family zones.

Support HB 3373
Affordable Housing Technical Support

HB 3373 would fund two positions, one each at Housing and Community Services Department and Department of Land Conservation and Development, dedicated to providing technical assistance and other services to local governments to increase the availability of affordable housing.

Read our Testimony in support

Super-Siting Bills to Defeat
SB 644 and SB 432


A handful of bills have been proposed that would allow farm, forest, and range land to be opened up to urban uses if the county in which the land is located is experiencing certain defined levels of high unemployment or population decline. 

SB 644 would allow mining on Eastern Oregon farmland with no land use review at all and no permit. Counties would have no ability to limit or mitigate the impacts of mining on surrounding farm and ranching operations. This effectively turns a farmland zone into a farming and mining zone. Current law appropriately protects farmland while allowing mining through a conditional use permit process – that already balances these competing interests.

SB 432 allows rural counties with no population growth, and certain cities in those counties, to not comply with Oregon’s statewide land use planning goals.  This bill is aimed at opening up eastern Oregon lands to uncontrolled development. Unfortunately, SB 432 offers a false promise that if only more raw land were available, economic development would occur.  Not only is raw land very expensive to serve with infrastructure, but true economic development is more complex. 

While it is true that parts of rural Oregon have experienced an economic downturn that has outlasted the recession, it is disingenuous to float raw land as the solution – especially land that is part of the land base for the industry that is #2 statewide, and is #1 in most of rural Oregon – agriculture.  The real answer is for state government to invest its economic development dollars in Oregon’s smaller, rural communities – to grow value-added agricultural products businesses, to provide the infrastructure needed to process and move products, to innovate new products, and to invest in existing small businesses and opportunities.

No to HB 2893
UGB Expansion Bill

HB 2893 would allow farm lands with Class VI, VII, and VIII soils to automatically move to the top of the list for UGB expansions and urban reserve designations, regardless of their current productivity or contribution to the area’s agricultural industry.  These soils are among those that support Oregon’s #1 agricultural commodity - cattle and calves.  They should not be automatically moved to the top of the priority list for development.  The city of Bend is asking for this bill.  We believe the bill is not needed for at least two reasons:

  • The law already provides two processes whereby a city can bring lesser quality farm soils to the head of the line for future UGB expansions and consider other factors like infrastructure.  Other cities have successfully used both processes.
  • Bend just expanded its UGB, and apparently has no plans to do so again for at least another 10 years. There is no reason to rush this bill; in fact, the entire issue of whether to expand the UGB and, if so, where, might change for a variety of reasons over the next 10 years.  This bill brings a broad brush to an important issue that should have a local conversation.

No on HB 2538

HB 2538 would allow the Land Use Board of Appeals to award “actual damages equal to any substantiated economic loss suffered by the prevailing party as a result of project delays caused by the review proceeding,” against those who lose in an appeal of the Land use Board of Appeals (LUBA). This is on top of attorney fees and expenses that LUBA is already allowed to award against a losing party, if their position was not “well-founded in law” or not based on “factually supported information.”

This bill would chill the ability of average Oregonians to have their day in court when they believe their local government has violated the land use laws. Being able to challenge local government decisions is a bedrock of our United Stated governmental structure of checks and balances. 

Is there a flood of land use appeals that are gumming up legitimate development?  No.  It is estimated that local governments make more than 15,000 land use decisions a year, ranging from the very minor to the very large.  Yet fewer than 120 appeals per year have gone to LUBA between 2011-2015.[1]   If there is a systemic problem in a local government’s land use code that is preventing the type of development contemplated by the local plan and map, then the “fix” should be made at the local level.  Making it riskier for community members to participate in their governmental decision-making process – including to appeal a government decisions – is not the answer.

[1] http://www.oregon.gov/LUBA/docs/LUBA%202017-19%20ARB.pdf, pp.5-6.

DEFEATED! 

SB 186 will not move forward

SB 186 would have undone specific rural reserve designations in Clackamas, Washington, and Multnomah counties, thereby opening up certain areas designated as “rural reserves” for eventual development.  It would undermine the region’s multi-year effort to come to a consensus about where long-term growth should – and should not – happen.   And perhaps most importantly, it would ensure that the region’ s residents will not participate in any kind of process like this again – where certainty was promised, only to be grabbed out from underneath them because a small number of individual land owners did not get their way.

The bills propose to remove the “rural reserve” designation from three farming areas that many of you worked to protect:

Clackamas County:  SB 186 would convert 18 acres of land zoned for exclusive farm use from rural reserve to “rural industrial.” The parcel is located south of the Willamette River, in the larger 800-acre French Prairie Rural Reserve.  It is sometimes called the “Red Barn” property and it is surrounded by active farming.  This area has been continually designated as a rural reserve – without controversy – until it was purchased by an auto dealer and others, who first went to Clackamas County about a year ago, trying to re-zone the land to allow parking, servicing, and detailing new cars for the dealership. This faced universal opposition from Clackamas County residents, three state agencies, 1000 Friends of Oregon, and Friends of French Prairie, among others. Now those same landowners are back – attempting to supersite through special interest legislation what they cannot achieve through the law or obtain public support for. 

Washington County.  SB 186 adversely impacts two different but large and productive farming areas in Washington County, by converting land located in the midst of these areas from rural to urban reserve.

  • Over 1500 acres located south of Highway 26 and stretching across a huge swath, from the Brookwood Parkway west to McKay Creek.
  • Three adjacent parcel of lands totaling under 100 acres, in the Helvetia area north of Highway 26 and to the west of 185th.

These are excellent farm lands, and are located in one of Oregon’s richest areas of agricultural production.  Loss of this land to urbanization would have a permanent and detrimental impact on the future of the farm economy in Washington County.

Enough is enough. Every legislative session another handful of land speculators wants their land treated specially. That’s not planning.  That’s not protecting local food supplies and Oregon’s #2 industry.  It is just enriching a few land speculators at a cost to many, many more.

Read our legislative testimony here

THANKS FOR HELPING DEFEAT THE MEGA-TOLLWAY!

We Said No to HB 3231 - The Mega-Tollway through farmland

HB 3231 would have authorized cities and counties to form a special taxing and revenue district to undertake everything involved with financing, designing, building, and operating a limited access tollway. The bill authorizes the tollway district to use eminent domain to acquire land, and to establish, collect, and enforce tolls. The tollway on which this idea was modeled is in the Denver area, and charges (according to the Oregonian) tolls up to $17.45 for cars and $69.80 for trucks.

Although no route is described in the bill, HB 3231’s chief sponsor described a tollway extending from Woodland, WA, crossing to Highway 30 in Oregon at either Columbia City or Portland just west of the I-5 bridge (so on a new bridge) and then through Forest Park, both intersecting with Highway 26 at Cornelius Pass, then paving a swath across the Tualatin Valley west of the current UGB, Yamhill County, and French Prairie, and joining I-5 somewhere south of Donald in Marion County.

Because you called and wrote to your elected leaders, HB 3231 will not move forward, helping to protect the state’s most productive farm land from being paved over. 

Read our testimony here
Read our call to action here

News Items:
Committee Hears Argument for 'Westside Bypass'
Our View: Westside Bypass Proposal Should Get Shelved