Center is a
partisan, IRS 501
wholly funded by
and fair land-use
the rights of
Original material in
Looking Forward is not
copyrighted and may be
used freely. We would
appreciate credit to
Oregonians In Action
Education Center, but
will not object if anyone
wishes to use it without
A publication of Oregonians In Action Education Center
on land use and property rights
continued on page 3
The Oregon Legislature has just completed its 2013
legislative session, and Oregonians In Action
finished with another good showing, passing five
bills, while stopping many bad bills in their tracks.
This marks the twelfth consecutive session in which
at least one OIA bill has passed. Working closely
with legislators of both parties, OIA has found
common ground on a number of bills that reform
Oregon’s land use system, give property owners
more freedom to use their land, or solve problems
encountered by Oregon businesses or property
owners. This session was no exception.
At the conclusion of the session, the following OIA
bills had passed:
HB 3067: House Bill 3067 transferred an area of
land known as “Bonny Slope” from Multnomah
County to Washington County, resulting in the first
change to the Washington County boundary in its
2 Volume 20, Issue 1
Inside This Issue:
The Looking Forward is
Oregonians In Action
Education Center staff.
Lynx Group, Inc.
Oregonians In Action
PO Box 230637 Tigard,
Phone: 503-620-0258 or
1-888 LAND USE
OIA Education Center Board of Directors,
Officers & Staff:
1-7: OIA Finishes Another Successful
8-9: Do You Own Riverfront Property?
If So, We’d Like To Hear From You
10-11: Eastern Oregon Should Not Become The
Get all your property rights news at
these great websites:
Volume 20, Issue 1 3
continued from front page
In 2002, Metro, the Portland area regional government amended
its urban growth boundary (UGB) to add Bonny Slope. Once inside
the UGB, the property owners in Bonny Slope could expect that
their property would develop as an urban area. Unfortunately,
when bringing Bonny Slope inside the UGB, Metro failed to realize
that neither Multnomah County nor the City of Portland could
provide the needed services (water, sewer) to Bonny Slope.
AlthoughWashington County could easily provide the needed water
and sewer service to Bonny Slope, they were unwilling to extend
services outside of the county boundary.
In 2010, a group of Bonny Slope property owners asked OIA for
help in solving this mess. Working with Senator Betsy Johnson of
Scappoose, Representative Mitch Greenlick of Portland, and
to be to simply change the county boundaries, and add Bonny Slope
As a result, House Bill 3067 was introduced and approved
unanimously in the Oregon House and the Oregon Senate, and is
now law. Under the bill, Washington County and Multnomah
County are finalizing the details necessary to change a county
boundary. Thanks to Senator Johnson, Representative Greenlick,
and Commissioner Duyck for their efforts on this bill.
HB 2746: House Bill 2746 makes a significant change to the law
for replacement dwellings in farm (EFU) zones.
Under current law, a replacement dwelling is an allowed use in an
EFU zone in all counties. In order to qualify for replacement, a
dwelling must have intact walls, a roof, electricity, plumbing, and
a heating system. Structures that were once dwellings but have
since been converted to other uses, are dilapidated, or have long
been removed from the property do not qualify for replacement
under current law. continued on page 4
4 Volume 20, Issue 1
continued from page 3
HB 2746 changes this. Under the bill, structures that were once
dwellings but have become dilapidated, converted to other uses (like
ag buildings), or have been removed from the property may be used
to qualify a property for a replacement dwelling. The effect of this
bill is to allow dwellings on EFU zoned properties that would
otherwise not qualify for a dwelling.
Thanks to Representatives Ben Unger of Hillsboro, John Davis of
Sherwood, and Brian Clem of Salem for their work on this bill.
HB 3415: House Bill 3415 appears to be the first legislation of its
type in the United States. The bill requires a state or local government
to charge a “market rate” when the government leases space on its
The bill is the result of a problem arising in Union County. Ken
Johnson owns and operates Racom, a La Grande company which
installs communications towers, and leases space on the towers it
owns and maintains. Nearly a decade ago, Racom installed a tower
on a hill above La Grande to serve La Grande and its outlying areas.
The cost to install a tower is approximately $150,000. In addition,
Racom pays a monthly lease fee to the United States Forest Service
(USFS) for leasing the land for the tower, and pays nearly $5,000 a
year in property taxes to Union County for the tower.
Shortly after Racom constructed its tower, Union County sought and
received a federal grant to construct a communications tower. The
grant paid for the entire cost of purchasing and constructing the tower,
which the County placed on USFS property immediately adjacent to
Racom’s leased property. Union County pays no lease fee to the
USFS, and no property taxes. In other words, Union County pays
nothing for its communication tower.
continued on page 5
Volume 20, Issue 1 5
continued from page 4
After constructing its tower, Union County approached Racom
customers, offering lease rates for space on the County tower. Because
the County had no outlay for installing its tower or leasing the USFS
land, it could offer Racom customers lease rates which Racom (or
any other private company) simply couldn’t match.
Unfortunately, other rural counties in Oregon were also seeking federal
grants, threatening Racom and every other rural Oregon
Looking for help, Johnson contacted Oregonians InAction. Working
with Representative Jim Weidner, HB 3415 was introduced and
approved with overwhelming support. Thanks to Representative Jim
Weidner of Yamhill for sponsoring the bill, and to Representative
Paul Holvey of Eugene for first hearing the bill and moving it to the
HB 3479: House Bill 3479 resolves a thorny problem in The Dalles.
The bill limits the ability of The Dalles to charge a “fee in lieu of a
local improvement district (LID)” or to require a property owner
seeking to partition land to enter into a non-remonstrance agreement
for the future formation of a LID.
For nearly a decade, The Dalles has had an ordinance that requires
property owners along unimproved streets to pay a “fee” to the City
in exchange for a development permit.
The fee is purportedly used to pay for street and sidewalk
improvements and does not depend upon the type of land use
application submitted. For example, a property owner seeking to
partition a residential property to create one new lot and home is
required to pay the exact same fee as a developer seeking a 40 lot
continued on page 6
6 Volume 20, Issue 1
continued from page 5
What is truly staggering, however, is the amount of the fees charged
by the City. At the House and Senate hearings on HB 3479, several
property owners from The Dalles testified about the amount of the
fee being charged by The Dalles under its current program. The
amount of the fees ranged from a low of just over $52,000, to a
high of over $180,000.
As OIA testified in the legislature, there is simply no possibility
that the creation of one or two new lots and dwellings would create
enough traffic to justify a six figure “fee.”
HB 3479 stops the City from charging their “fee” for minor land
use applications, like partitions. Thanks to Representative John
Huffman of The Dalles and SenatorArnie Roblan of Coos Bay for
spearheading this bill through the House and Senate.
SB 476: Senate Bill 476 puts some very significant and important
safeguards in place for property owners and private businesses
who enter into “prospective purchaser agreements” (PPA’s), which
are contracts with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
(DEQ) for cleaning up polluted properties.
Oregon law encourages DEQ to enter into PPAs with private
companies to clean up contaminated sites. The contaminated site
gets cleaned and rehabilitated without the taxpayer footing the bill;
the clean-up creates private sector jobs; and the rehabilitated site
is then developed and used by the private sector.
Unfortunately, when DEQ refuses to comply with its own PPAs,
the entire program is jeopardized. In fact, SB 476 was introduced
as a result of DEQ’s failure to honor its PPA with Patrick Lucas, a
Sherwood property owner and developer.
continued on page 7
Volume 20, Issue 1 7
continued from page 6
Lucas’company entered into a PPAwith DEQ to clean-up one portion
of a contaminated tannery site in Sherwood. After spending over
$1.3 million to clean up the site to DEQ’s specifications, it was
discovered that Wells Fargo owned the tannery property during the
time that the tannery was dumping toxic materials into a pit at the
back of the property.
Both the PPAand Oregon law allow Lucas to recover the $1.3 million
in clean-up costs from the party who caused the pollution. But before
Lucas could seek recovery from Wells Fargo, DEQ negotiated a $2.2
million settlement with Wells Fargo, without notifying Lucas.
There was a catch, however. Wells Fargo refused to settle the case
unless DEQ agreed that the settlement applied to all pollution clean-
up costs, including the $1.3 million spent by Lucas.
And what did DEQ do with the money? They kept it, of course, and
refused to honor their PPAwith Lucas, ignoring both the contract and
The legislature was very troubled by DEQ’s behavior in the Lucas
case. SB 476 now prohibits DEQ from agreeing to settle a case that
affects the rights of a PPA holder like Lucas without giving the PPA
holder the right to participate in the settlement, and allowing a court
to review the settlement to make sure that it treats everyone fairly, not
If SB 476 had been in effect earlier, DEQ would have been forced to
honor their PPA with Lucas. Unfortunately, the legislature did not
make SB 476 retroactive, meaning Lucas will still have to fight his
legal battles with DEQ in court.
Thanks to Senators Betsy Johnson of Scappoose, Larry George of
Sherwood, and Floyd Prozanski of Eugene for leading the charge to
pass SB 476.
8 Volume 20, Issue 1
DoYou Own Riverfront
Property? If So, We’d Like
To Hear From You
If you own property along one of Oregon’s major rivers,
your ownership rights may not be what you think they are. We’d
like to hear from you.
One of Oregonians InAction’s priority bills in the most recent
legislative session was Senate Bill 479. If approved, SB 479 would
have prevented the State of Oregon from claiming title to drylands
which were once submerged (underwater) or submersible
(underwater for a portion of the year), but which have been filled
by a public body, and are now upland properties in private
The most common way that property that was submerged or
submersible becomes upland is by the placement of dredge spoils
on property adjacent to uplands. During the late 1800s and early
1900s, the federal, state, and local governments dumped dredge
spoils on thousands of properties across the state as part of a plan
to widen and deepen river channels and coastal bays for ship traffic
and other commercial activities.
As rivers and bays were dredged, the dredged materials
(spoils) were typically placed on shallow or marshy areas near the
river or bay. Once enough dredge spoils were deposited, the land
became upland, and was typically subsumed by the adjacent property
Over the decades, thousands of Oregon properties that
contain areas where dredge spoils have been deposited have been
bought, sold, and developed as private property. Unfortunately,
the Oregon Attorney General and the Oregon Department of State
Lands (DSL) have begun to assert title to those areas, claiming that
although the land is no longer submerged or submersible, it once
was, and therefore the State of Oregon holds a title interest in the
property. continued on page 9
Volume 20, Issue 1 9
Do You Own Riverfront Property? If
So, We’d Like To Hear From You
It gets worse. The State is now demanding that property
owners pay the State to clear their title. In a recent case involving
property near theWillamette River in Portland, the OregonAttorney
General demanded $2,400,000 to release its claim in a 10 acre
industrial property which the owner had purchased in 2004 from
another company for over $8,000,000.
After learning of this problem, OIA asked legislators to
sponsor SB 479, and legislators agreed. The bill has resulted in
the formation of a group that will meet this fall to attempt to resolve
this issue. OIA President Dave Hunnicutt is a part of that group,
which is tasked with reaching a compromise, and reporting back
to the Oregon legislature and the State Lands Board, with an eye
on new legislation in either 2014 or 2015.
The DSL has identified over 19,000 privately owned
properties along the Willamette River and Oregon coast alone
where the State of Oregon claims ownership. Most of these
properties have been in private ownership for decades, and have
been bought and sold with no one aware that the State claims an
interest in the property.
These properties, along with others along major Oregon
rivers, are a ticking time bomb, waiting to be set off by the Oregon
Attorney General. Thousands of Oregon property owners are
buying, selling, and developing land that they believe is their own,
but which the state also claims. We must resolve this issue now,
before further damage is done.
If you own property near a major river or bay, we need to
hear from you. OIA is trying to identify and organize property
owners who own land that contains dredge spoils, and whose titles
are threatened by the State. There is strength in numbers, and
together, we must demand change. If you own riverfront or bayfront
property, please give us a call or send us an email, and we’ll put
you on a list and keep you apprised of what we’re doing.
continued from page 8
10 Volume 20, Issue 1
Eastern Oregon Should Not
Become The NextAppalachia
poverty paint a grim picture for Oregonians living in rural counties,
particularly those in eastern Oregon. It’s time for the Oregon
legislature to take aggressive steps to fix this problem.
A case study shows the disparity. For those of you who
don’t venture further east than Bend, Harney County is a large
southeastern Oregon county, covering 10,226 square miles. The
county seat is Burns. As of the last census, the population in Harney
County was 7,422. The nearest metropolitan area is Boise, Idaho,
nearly 190 miles away.
Harney County shares a border with Humboldt County,
Nevada. Like Harney County, Humboldt County is large, spanning
9,626 square miles. Humboldt County is also very rural, with a
population of 16,735. The county seat is Winnemucca. The nearest
metropolitan area is Reno, nearly 170 miles away.
Agriculture is a major industry in both counties, which are
geographically similar. Approximately 1.46 million acres of Harney
County is in farms, and nearly 760,000 acres of Humboldt County
is farmed, making it Nevada’s largest agricultural producing county.
Neither county is changing dramatically. Between 2000
and 2010, Harney County lost nearly 3% of its population. By
contrast, Humboldt County grew by approximately 2% in the same
In short, Humboldt County and Harney County are very
similar neighbors. But there is one area where the similarities
InApril, 2013, the unemployment rate in Humboldt County
was 5.4%. The unemployment rate in Harney County during the
same period was 13.1%. The median household income in Harney
County hovers around $35,000. In Humboldt County, it is over
$56,000. And nearly 19% of Harney County residents live in
poverty. In Humboldt County, that figure drops to 12%.
So why are two similarly sized, similarly situated rural
county neighbors so different economically? Why do residents of
continued on page 11
By David Hunnicutt
Volume 20, Issue 1 11
Eastern Oregon Should Not Become The
continued from page 10
Harney County have fewer jobs, make less money, and have more
residents in poverty than their neighbors to the south? There are a
number of reasons, and land use policy is one of them.
Nevada does not have a statewide land use system. Land
use decisions in Nevada are controlled by the counties. This means
that Humboldt County residents can control their own future,
whereas Harney County citizens cannot.
This point was exemplified in the most recent legislative
session. Representative Cliff Bentz, a legislator representing
Harney County, brought forward House Bill 3267. HB 3267 would
allow Malheur County, a neighboring county to Harney, to create
an industrial site in the county.
The obvious goal of Representative Bentz’s legislation was
to allow Malheur County (which has the same unemployment/
poverty issues as Harney County) to make land available for job
creation, to help cure its jobs and poverty problems.
This would not be a problem in Humboldt County. If
Humboldt County wanted to create more industrial land, they would
simply do so, and not have to beg the state legislature to fix a
uniquely local issue.
But Oregon has statewide land use planning, so
Representative Bentz was forced to ask the state legislature to solve
Malheur County’s problem. Unfortunately (but predictably), the
legislature failed to do so, leaving Malheur County, and other rural
Oregon counties like Harney, stuck in the same cycle of
unemployment and poverty that they have been for years.
Giving Harney County and other rural Oregon counties the
ability to do their own land use planning would be a tremendous
boon to their fortunes. They need look no further than to their
neighbor to the south to figure out why. That’s why the Oregon
legislature should take steps in 2014 to allow rural Oregon counties
to make their own land use decisions and do their own land use
planning, before eastern Oregon becomes the western version of
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