Bill would give hope to Measure 37 claimants

Property rights advocates are drumming up support for proposed legislation to help Measure 37 claimants who feel left in the lurch by recent land-use laws.

House Bill 3212, sponsored by local Reps. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland, and Sal Esquivel, R-Medford, last week, would give landowners a second chance to get some relief after Measure 49 dashed any hopes of Measure 37 claimants who failed to file a separate claim with the state.

Esquivel said the bill was crafted at the request of the property-rights group Oregonians in Action and by Jackson County officials.

Oregonians in Action has been trying to contact local landowners to urge them to voice their support for the legislation with their representative.

Voters approved Measure 37 in 2004 to give longtime property owners relief from development restrictions under Oregon land-use laws, or payment for the lost value of their land. But the law was overturned by Measure 49 in 2007. Jackson County officials had approved 571 Measure 37 waivers of land-use rules on about 60,000 acres, and many of the waivers were granted to elderly property owners.

Court cases are still being waged debating the rights of Measure 37 claimants. The state's position is that a Measure 37 claim has no standing if a waiver of land-use laws was granted by a county only.

Other local lawmakers who have co-sponsored the legislation include Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Medford, George Gilman, R-Medford, and Bill Garrard, R-Klamath Falls.

Dave Hunnicutt of Oregonians in Action said that of the 860 landowners who didn't file separate claims with the state, nearly 300 live in Jackson and Josephine counties.

Jackson County had a disclaimer on its claims advising residents to file separately with the state, but Hunnicutt said it was ultimately confusing for many property owners.

Esquivel said many property owners in Jackson County should not have to pay for incorrect or confusing information received from their government.

"If you mislead someone and make an error, they shouldn't have to pay for that error," he said.

Even if the bill passes, property owners will be entitled only to the limited property rights relief offered under Measure 49, said Esquivel.

He said the bill has a good chance of passing in the Legislature.

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