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News Archives
February 2001
Our Goal: To improve the livability of Florence through public education and community involvement.
 


02/22/01 - Measure 7 Unconstitutional
02/14/01 - 1000 Friends News Release re: Measure 7
 
02/13/01 - Florence Water Supply Work Session
02/02/01 - CFF Comments on 3 Proposed Annexations


2/22/01 - Measure 7 Found Unconstitutional - Judge Cites Serious Constitutional Problems In Landowner Payments Measure -- Marion County Circuit Court Judge Paul Lipscomb ruled today that Ballot Measure 7 violates Oregon’s Constitution.  The measure, passed by a 53% to
47% margin last November, requires payments to landowners for reductions in property values caused by state or local government regulations.

The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by Audrey McCall, widow of former Oregon Governor Tom McCall; Hector Macpherson, a retired farmer who helped draft and pass Oregon’s land use planning laws; Mike Swaim, the mayor of Salem; Jim Lewis, the mayor of Jacksonville; and Union County rancher and lawyer Mark Tipperman.

The plaintiffs were represented by attorney Tom Christ for free at the request of 1000 Friends of Oregon, a nonprofit citizen organization that supports land use planning to save farm and forestland and public beaches and to stop urban sprawl.  Republican Governor McCall helped form 1000
Friends in 1975.

In his opinion Judge Lipscomb said:  “…this court acknowledged that enjoining the implementation of an Initiative Measure was a grave and serious step.  On the other hand, amending the Constitution is not a trifling matter either.  The procedures for amending the Oregon Constitution through the initiative process are strict, and the Constitution itself demands that those standards are followed…” (Page 3)

“No Oregon judge is going to invalidate a measure passed by the voters on a mere technicality,” said Robert Liberty, executive director of 1000 Friends of Oregon.  “Judge Lipscomb found very serious Constitutional defects in Measure 7.  Those flaws were so fundamental that he was forced to strike it
down.”

Lipscomb ruled the changes in Measure 7 were presented to voters out of context.  The measure should have been presented to voters along with the existing parts of the Constitution that it would modify, including protections that already require compensation when government takes private
property for public use.

In this regard Judge Lipscomb found: “Ballot Measure 7 not only adds new provisions to Section 18 or Article 1, but it also changes the substance and the meaning of the existing provisions of Section 18 without giving any notice to the voters of those direct and substantive changes.”  (Page 11)

Judge Lipscomb also concluded that Measure 7 contained multiple amendments to the Oregon Constitution.  The Constitution requires that voters be allowed to vote separately on each amendment, because they may have different opinions on each amendment.: “…several of the provisions of Ballot Measure 7 do not appear to be ‘closely related’ in that a voter’s support
of one provision does not necessarily imply support for any of the others. Many voters might vote for any one of these individual provisions, and some might choose to vote for all of them.  But no one of these provisions necessarily implies support for any of the others.”  (Page 23)

Lipscomb’s ruling on that issue was based on recent decisions by the Oregon Supreme Court and Oregon Court of Appeals. “The requirement that a ballot measure fully explain all the changes it
makes to the Oregon Constitution and the prohibition against bundling together multiple Constitutional amendments in one ballot measure are fundamental protections to voters, in our initiative system.  These protections are especially important in a case like this, where a measure has such far-reaching consequences for Oregon and Oregon’s taxpayers,” Liberty added.

Supporters of Measure 7 are expected to appeal the decision to the Court of Appeals.  Some legislators have suggested they might pass a law to give special treatment to this appeal, sending it directly to the Oregon Supreme Court and bypassing the normal review by the Court of Appeals.  In any event, it is unlikely that a ruling on appeal will be issued before the end of the year.  Source:  2/22/01, 1000 Friends of Oregon News Release.



02/14/01 - 1000 Friends of Oregon Says Attorney General’s Opinion Underscores Breadth, Confusion of Measure 7 -- Organization Warns That Land Use Planning Laws Protecting Farmland, Preventing Urban Sprawl, Could Quickly Become Unenforceable.

“Here is a measure that is only a single page and it took 20 lawyers three months and over 100 pages to say they still aren’t sure what it means.” That was the response of Randy Tucker, 1000 Friends of Oregon’s Legislative Affairs Director, to Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers’ 110-page opinion interpreting Measure 7.  Measure 7, which passed last November, requires government to pay  landowners for reductions in the value of their land, buildings, crops or minerals, caused by state and local regulations.

The massive opinion also confirmed what 1000 Friends of Oregon has been asserting, that Measure 7 is retroactive: It requires state and local governments to make payments for enforcing regulations adopted decades ago.

Among other things, the Attorney General concluded that even if state law requires agencies to enforce the state’s land use and environmental laws, once payments made to landowners under Measure 7 exceed the agency’s budget, the agencies can no longer enforce those laws. “Now there’s a really ugly Valentine’s Day surprise!,” said Robert Liberty, Executive Director of
1000 Friends of Oregon.   “After almost 30 years of protecting farmland and public beaches, and curbing urban sprawl, our land use laws could be effectively repealed by a single selfish landowner, getting paid by taxpayers for something that happened 25 years ago.”

Even though the Attorney General’s opinion only addressed Measure 7’s application to state government, various parts of the opinion suggested that neighborhood zoning is not exempted from Measure 7 claims.  Under Measure 7, taxpayers might have to pay landowners to obey zoning rules that prohibit building stores or that limit the height of houses in residential areas.

Liberty, an attorney who has spent much time reviewing and speculating about Measure 7’s meaning,  admitted he was surprised by several things in the Attorney General’s opinion. “Certainly Measure 7’s implications are even broader and more complex than we imagined,” he said.

A Marion County Circuit Court Judge is considering a Constitutional challenge to Measure 7 organized by 1000 Friends. A ruling in that case is expected within a few days. Source:  1/13/01 News Release, 1000 Friends of Oregon.  Also see:  Attorney General Opinion


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
       
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