Strong Opposition to Anti-Planning Initiatives on Jackson County Ballot: Even Planning Critics Don't See the Point

Local residents, elected officials, and the Mail-Tribune are joining a growing and vocal opposition to two anti-land use planning initiatives on the ballot this month in Jackson County. Some of the opposition even comes from supporters of Measure 37.

Measures 15-110 and 15-111 seek to send Jackson County back in time. Measure 15-110 would require local officials to spend time and money expressing their opposition to statewide land use planning every year, and Measure 15-111 would revive Measure 37-style compensation for landowners who believe their land value has been affected by the county's land use planning.

In a strongly worded editorial April 24, the Medford Mail-Tribune urges Jackson County voters to "reject both measures and save the county and the taxpayers a lot of wasted time and expense."

The paper calls Measure 15-110 "empty rhetoric…which will mean more lost causes and more expensive legal bills.”

Measure 15-111, the paper states, is "a sham" that is "no more enforceable than a county law that declares county residents have decided they will no longer pay state taxes. It might make you feel good to say it, but in the end you'll pay the taxes, plus the penalty, plus the lawyers' fees to defend your indefensible position."

Outgoing Commissioner C.W. Smith, who is often critical of the statewide land use planning system, agrees with the Mail-Tribune. In his own April 26 guest editorial, he declares that the two initiatives "create legally challengeable issues and appear to be unconstitutional as well."

"Please do not be misled by the hype and hyperbole," Smith urges. "Measures 15-110 and 15-111 will only confuse, compound and cost time and dollars in legal challenges to the county if the measures are passed."

As Jackson County, like many Oregon communities, stares down huge deficits while trying to attract real job growth, locals see little value to reviving land use battles from years ago. The only result, they accurately conclude, will be wasting thousands of dollars in taxpayer money, which instead of going to schools and roads, will be dedicated to covering the county's legal bills.

Voters will decide on the measures on the May 15 ballot.

For more information, please contact Greg Holmes, Southern Oregon Advocate, at greg@friends.org.