U.S. Ninth Circuit Court Upholds Measure 49

Craig Beebe, 1000 Friends Communications and Development Coordinator

In an important move protecting the intentions of Oregon voters, the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the constitutionality of Measure 49, the 2007 ballot referendum that reversed the worst excesses of 2004’s Measure 37.

The Ninth Circuit’s ruling, issued unanimously on January 12, 2012, affirmed the ruling of a lower court, denying two challenges to Measure 49 by a handful of Jackson County property owners. These property owners alleged that Measure 49 denied them rights they claimed were granted by Measure 37, which would have required local governments to either compensate property owners for supposed losses in value due to zoning and other land use regulations, or waive those regulations altogether. When Oregon voters passed Measure 49, they withdrew most of these waivers, protecting the common interest we all have in productive working landscapes and well-planned communities.

The property owners argued that the passage of Measure 49 represented an unconstitutional “taking” of their property, but the Ninth Circuit’s ruling firmly rejects these claims. The court found that Measure 37 waivers did not in themselves constitute vested property rights under federal law, and that Measure 49, passed by a large majority of Oregon voters, did not violate due process. This represents a major victory for the majority of Oregonians who believe that land use planning promotes livable communities and ensures that Oregon's vital productive working landscapes remain intact and viable.

For more information, read the ruling here.