Oregon landowners can breathe a little easier this week. That's because the Oregon Supreme Court ruled in favor of "Measure 37" '" a ballot initiative designed to protect landowners from the state's central land planners. In short, it protects landowners by making the government compensate landowners if new land use laws diminish their property's value.
Courts have been reluctant to afford relief to landowners when government regulations diminish the value of their property. Measure 37 addresses that by statutorily requiring governments to compensate landowners when land use regulations lessen the value of property. In this particular case, Dorothy English bought 40 acres of land in 1953 so she could subdivide it for her children, but land-use laws imposed after the purchase stopped her from doing so.
Measure 37 is an important step forward in protecting landowners from government action and codifies the respect for private property our founding fathers intended. Now that it's cleared legal challenges in Oregon, other states, like Washington and Arizona, are exploring similar options.
Central planners and smart growth advocates offer much hullabaloo about Measure 37 and its implications. One matter is clear: Measure 37 makes governments play fair. If they're going to restrict how you can use your land and diminish your property value, they have to pay to play.
-Goldwater Institute: "A Tale of Two Cities: Phoenix, Portland, Growth and Growth Control"
-Oregon Supreme Court: MacPherson v. Department of Administrative Services
- Washington Post: "Anti-Sprawl Laws, Property Rights Collide in Oregon"
- Arizona Republic: "Land bills stir lawsuit fears"