2013 Legislature: Priorities and Updates
The 77th Oregon Legislative Assemply convenes on Monday, February 4, 2013. Like every legislative session, many pieces of legislation will be considered that will have great importance to Oregon--with effects both positive and negative.
1000 Friends will be working hard in Salem this session to keep legislators and the general public informed about why the statewide land use program's goals to promote great communities, protect working landscapes, and preserve public access to planning should continue to be core components of Oregon policy.
This is a full legislative session, but things can move very quickly. Check this page for frequent updates on proposed legislation, 1000 Friends testimony on legislation, and details about the session. You can also sign up for 1000 Friends legislative Action Alerts here.
Following, in no particular order, are our 2013 legislative priorities. As bills emerge that relate to these general topic areas, we will post more information about them below.
I. Create Jobs and Housing through Smart Use of Urban Land.
Cities should be able to consider all options within their urban growth boundaries when planning for job creation. However, current law prevents this by requiring cities to compensate property owners if their land is rezoned from residential use to industrial use, if that industrial use is less valuable to the individual land owner--even if it is more valuable to the community. State law should allow local governments to pursue new zoning optoins where appropriate, with the full participation of their residents. In the 2013 session, 1000 Friends will work to address this situation. Update, April 23: Our bill to do so, HB 2839, has been passed by the Oregon House on a 46-12 vote.
Promote brownfield redevelopment.
As employers look for land to create new jobs, the highest priority sites should be those within urban growth boundaries, many of them already served by infrastructure. As we showed in our recent infrastructure report, using these lands first maximizes taxpayers’ infrastructure investments, while protecting productive farm and forest lands. We support legislation to clean up underutilized "brownfield" sites within urban growth boundaries, to support faster development and job creation in these places.
Protect industrial lands from conversion to other uses.
Too often land zoned for industrial uses is acquired for speculation or rezoned to other uses, leaving cities and counties to seek additional sites for large lot industrial sites. That wastes public infrastructure investments, in addition to valuable farm and forest land. We support legislation to prevent the waste of already-designated industrial sites.
Give communities more strategies to create affordable housing.
Current state law bans cities from using one of the most widely used and effective tools to promote affordable housing: inclusionary zoning, also known as inclusionary housing. Oregon is one of just two states that bars local governments from even considering this useful tool. Removing the ban will enable, but not require, cities to employ inclusionary zoning to help meet their affordable housing goals. We support legislation to do so. (Learn more about inclusionary zoning here.)
For our testimony on this bill to the House Human Services and Housing Committee on March 22, click here.
Increase funding for non-roadway transportation.
Oregon lacks adequate and stable funding for non-roadway transportation. These modes include transit, rail (freight and passenger), ports, aviation, sidewalks, paths, and bikeways. Funding these transportation modes has perennially been difficult given constitutional restrictions that limit motor vehicle fees and taxes exclusively to roadways, and the absence of state sales tax, a primary source for non-roadway transportation funding in many other states. In the 2013 session, 1000 Friends will work with Transportation for Oregon’s Future to pursue dedicated funding for non-roadway transportation.
II. Grow Oregon's Agricultural Economy by Protecting Farmland and Farmers.
Close loopholes that allow non-farm uses on farmland.
The number of uses allowed on exclusive farm use (EFU) land has expanded substantially over the history of Oregon’s planning program. As the legislature and courts work to define the extent to which non-farming events and commercial activities should occur on farmland, we should close loopholes that circumvent existing and new policies. “Private parks” are currently allowed on EFU land, but the uses in private parks are undefined--currently, everything from a concert venue to an ATV course or paintball center might be included. This ambiguity creates conflict in farm zones and harms the livelihood of Oregon farmers near these “parks.” In the 2013 session, 1000 Friends will work to close this loophole by clarifying and limiting what's allowed on "private parks."
End the destruction of Oregon's best farmland for aggregate mining.
Aggregate mining on high-value soils has taken hundreds of acres of excellent farm lands out of production. Oregon has plenty of places that are appropriate for aggregate mining that don't require the destruction of highest-quality farm land for short-term profit. We support two bills (HB 2201 and HB 2202) brought by the Oregon Farm Bureau to prevent the negative effects of aggregate mining on prime, unique and Class I and II soils. Update: The House Land Use Committee held a public hearing on these bills in February, and will hold a work session on Thursday, April 18. Learn more about these bills here.
Support leaders in the winemaking community in protecting wine country.
The proliferation of nonfarm events – weddings, private parties, and other non-marketing events – has been recognized across the agricultural industry as a threat to farms, vineyards, and winemaking. Wine leaders have crafted an approach that seeks to balance commercial events on wineries and protect the agricultural industry in areas where these events occur. In the 2013 session, 1000 Friends will participate in supporting such a balance.
Processing is a key link in the chain from Oregon farms to consumers. When processing is difficult and distant, farmers are denied the chance to compete fairly with bigger producers. This particularly true for Oregon’s small poultry producers. Allowing small poultry processing facilities on EFU land will open new channels of processing and distribution for small farmers, leveling the playing field, further enhancing Oregon’s local food economy, and supporting rural economies. As a member of the Oregon Grows Partnership, 1000 Friends will work in the 2013 session to support such a change through House Bill 2393.
Update, April 15: HB 2393 passed the House with 59 "Ayes" on February 20. It is now before the Senate Rural Communities and Economic Development Committee, but a hearing has not yet been scheduled.
On the former site of the infamous Rajneeshpuram near Antelope, Oregon, sits the Washington Family Ranch, a summer camp and event center for Young Life, a religious nonprofit. The camp is seeking a special exemption from land use planning laws in order to facilitate a potentially large expansion of its facilities. 1000 Friends opposes any special exemption that would allow the camp to proceed with expanding urban uses in this very rural area. This bill has been declared a "Major Threat" by the Oregon Conservation Network. The House Land Use Committee will hold a hearing on possible work session on Tuesday, April 16.
In 2012, an Executive Order from the Governor created a regional "pilot project" to create new definitions of farm and forest land in three southern Oregon counties. This project is now underway, but a bill this session would further expand it to allow any two or more counties to create their own definitions of resource lands with the Land Conservation and Development Commission. The bill, SB 538, would also expand the criteria for such definitions to include factors that have nothing to do with the land's productivity, such as proximity to urban growth boundaries or highways. 1000 Friends strongly opposes this bill, which would put Oregon farms and forests at risk and weaken the integrity of Oregon's statewide planning program. The bill is scheduled for a public hearing before the Senate Rural Communities and Economic Development Committee on Tuesday, April 16.
III. Bring Better Facts and Broader Participation to Planning.
Prevent the exclusion of Oregonians from the land use planning process.
Oregon Statewide Planning Goal 1 protects the right of citizens to participate in land use decisions. Exorbitant local appeal fees have been proposed and used to exclude or chill public participation. Requirements of land ownership have been proposed to preclude citizens’ ability to participate in appeals. 1000 Friends will continue to vigorously oppose unnecessary restrictions on the public’s right to participate in every step of the land use planning process.
Allow coordinated population forecasting through the Oregon University system.
Good planning relies on sound population forecasting. In the Oregon planning program, population forecasts are used by local governments for many key decisions like urban growth boundaries and infrastructure expansions. When these forecasts are inaccurate or politically driven, communities can make the wrong choices—wasting irreplaceable resource lands and limited taxpayer dollars. Having qualified Portland State University demographers do population forecasting for local jurisdictions will promote better forecasting, prevent conflicts of interest, and save local governments time and money. 1000 Friends supports HB 2253, which would do just that.
Stay Involved This Session: Resources and Actions
Here are some ways you can learn more and support our shared vision for Oregon this session:
- Contact your legislator. Don't know who your legislator is? Find out by searching with your address on this page. Remember to write or call your legislator about bills that threaten Oregon's quality of life, productivity and environment.
- Visit the Oregon Legislature homepage. Find out about legislators; committee assignments and meetings; proposed legislation; and how to submit comments to your legislator.
- Sign up for 1000 Friends action alerts. If legislation is proposed that needs immediate and direct action, we'll email or call to let you know.
- Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay on top of developments as they happen.
- Sign up for the RSS Feed of our Latest Items blog. We'll post updates throughout the session there as well.
- Contact Craig Beebe at email@example.com to learn more about issues we're tracking and what you can do throughout the session and beyond.
- Support our work for Oregon in the 2013 Legislature by making a special tax-deductible contribution to 1000 Friends today at friends.org/support. Thank you for your generous support!