Tracking Measure 37 Claims

By Bob Sallinger of Portland, Oregon. Bob is the Urban Conservation Director for the Audubon Society of Portland and has worked at Audubon since 1993.

Portland Audubon is looking for a few dedicated volunteers willing to visit local planning offices on a weekly basis to compile Measure 37 claims.

The recent passage of Measure 37 poses an immense threat to long-term efforts to protect wildlife habitat throughout the Portland Metropolitan Region. Property owners are now able to file claims with their local planning offices requesting that land use regulations be waived or that they be compensated for any lost value they may have incurred because of land use restrictions on their property.

Portland Audubon has been working with 1000 Friends of Oregon and other conservation groups to develop a strategy to minimize the impacts of Measure 37. A major part of that strategy involves compiling a list of all the Measure 37 claims filed throughout the state. Those claims will then be publicized so that the public can get a true understanding of the impacts of this measure.

We are looking for volunteers willing to commit to visiting their local planning office one a week for the next several months. Volunteers would be responsible for compiling a list of all the claims submitted to that office during the past week and then submitting them to 1000 Friends of Oregon. The way each jurisdiction gathers and compiles this information varies, so it may take a little work to get to know your local planning office and figure how best to access this information.

Please contact either Bob Sallinger at Portland Audubon or Mary Kyle McCurdy at 1000 Friends of Oregon if you are interested in helping out.

  • Eric (unverified)

    I don't mean to be critical...but isn't it the stories of people being hasseled by government/greens/ that was used by the Yes campaign? They passed M37 because of 30 years of this type of thinking.

    Look, we need to let sleeping dogs lie. You will never repeal Measure 37 on the ballot, you will never get the Legislature repeal it, so why not just try and make it work? How about a state-wide bond measure like the Metro Greenspaces Bond?

    Why fight what people see as a fairness issue by looking like a bunch of poor sports and losers?

    Just asking?


  • (Show?)

    Is this really a hassle though? From what I understand, this is all public information... it's owned by everyone in the state, regardless of their point of view on Measure 37's wisdom. If you are altruistic enough to be concerned about 1000 Friend's and Audobon's public image, that's fine. However, and perhaps I shouldn't speak for them, but here goes... I think their position is that the Yes campaign sold voters a bill of goods about who would benefit from Measure 37... if it turns out that Yes on 37 was right, then this effort will not amount to much more than volunteer time. However, if it turrns out that Measure 37 benefits a radically different group (i.e. not individuals and small farms) then it sure seems to be worthwhile...

  • Mark (unverified)

    Disagree EB,

    I think M37 will not be what most voters thought it claimed to be. Documenting it is very important.

    Of course it may turn out to be benign. Let's find out.

  • (Show?)

    There are going to be two kinds of proposed changes to M37. Obviously, there are a number of folks who want to change it fundamentally. Those discussions will be political, philosophical, ideological, and very important.

    But almost more importantly are the many minor technical fixes that need to be made in order to make it into good law.

    I don't have all the details yet - still assembling a post about it - but it appears that one major problem with M37 relates to the ability of title insurance companies to provide title insurance when the M37 restrictions are placed into the property deed. It's entirely possible that massive amounts of land in Oregon will, over time, become unsaleable due to the inability to provide clean title under M37 as written.

    There will be lots of technical fixes - and providing the documentary evidence for those will be critical.

  • (Show?)

    I think this is a wonderful idea.

    Please DO compile every M37 claim, then vigorously publicize them ALL so that the people of Oregon get a full and accurate picture of the extent to which their property rights have been tossed aside in favor of the environmental and anti-growth groups who for three decades have used Oregon's land use laws to further their agendas.

  • Jerry (unverified)

    Hey Rob.. Sounds good to me. Let's just put the asphalt down with no thought for the future. You know, it's my land and I should be able to do whatever I want without any regard for my neighbors or my state.

  • PanchoPdx (unverified)

    Hey Jerry. If you feel so strongly about this, why don't you try to put a measure on the ballot to reverse M-37 in '06?

    Navigate all the SoS hurdles and make your case to the voters.

    Watch it go down 70-30.

    This issue reminds me of Death w/ Dignity. The more you challenge the will of the voters, the more you galvanize support for the challenged idea.

    Why not just implement this and watch what happens?

    If you stop thinking of this as the end of "Oregon as we know it", you might be pleasantly surprised.

    M37 has many upsides, not the least of which is increasing the availability of more affordable housing.

    When the end result is an increase in home ownership, a drop in unemployment AND higher property tax receipts, many "progressives" will re-evaluate their opposition to this measure.

  • (Show?)


    As specified in the measure, the owner of private real property is entitled to receive just compensation when a land use regulation is enacted after the owner or a family member became the owner of the property if the regulation restricts the use of the property and reduces its fair market value.


    This was a regressive GOP attempt to reduce the government's ability to protect the environment, but it will lead to further costs associated with transportation projects and it will create a zoning nightmare.

    If conservatives think that building housing on wetlands is the proper way to increase housing, you can keep your increased tax revenues. People are absolutely corrupt for only caring about money.

    When I saw my voter pamphlet, I knew it was going to pass. Not because voters want just compensation, but because they don't take the time to realize the long-term consequences of these stupid measures. But that's America. The land of the two word culture: Measure 37!

  • Jerry (unverified)


    When the voters discover they were sold a bill of goods that isn't what they thought they were getting, things will take care of themselves.

    Homeownership is a increasing laughable excuse for M37. Nearly all the homes being built now on land inside the UGB are so far out of the range of most Oregonians and most certainly out of the budgets of most younger buyers. More land will mean more $200,000 homes.

    And I'm also curious about where you get your data for the expected drop in unemployment and increasing tax receipts. Neither seem to have any relationship to the 'Taking' measure and almost certainly will not generate much of either one.Oregonians are less and less interested in paying more taxes and unless M37 does more than make jobs for a couple timber companies, there isn't going to be much of a change in unemployment.

    I'm not an 'Earth-First' sort of guy, but I will continue to oppose what I see as a deliberate attempt to destroy 40+ years of carefully crafted protection for the environment, approved by the people of Oregon. I'm not going to let a few greedy people destroy that for the sake of the all mighty dollar.

  • Steve Schopp (unverified)

    """This was a regressive GOP attempt to reduce the government's ability to protect the environment"""

    What? The guy who wrote M37 is a democrat. There was and is no GOP plan or scheme.

    And Oregon has layers of environmental protections which aren't going anywhere.
    It is amazing the stuff some of you folks have come up with. You just make it up as you go. And it all begins with your fantasy about what Oregon's land use planning has done. Much of the state is inaccurately and inflexibly labeled. Scab land is labeled farm or forest. Farmland is labeled wetland. Brush covered hills labeled forest. All from a rush to label in the early days of our central planning. The price of land is inflated, the cost of housing likewise, ugly development is overcrowding people, green is eaten up in our cities from infill, congestion is out of control. Transportation planning cold not be more detrimental, light rail real costs and real transit numbers make it a fraud Planning has turned to chaos from long neglect and ignoring vital aspects of business, jobs, mobility and livability.
    What are you folks inhaling? And why is it you sit there and let the Goldschmidt Corporate cronies rape the public coffers to line their pockets? Why do you sit there while public officials help them trample every zoning law there is? Then you FREAK out when everyday people, DEMOCRATS included, want a little of the same relief Bechtel gets from the city? Are you incapable of paying attention to what is being done to your neighborhoods and tax dollars to help the rich who you hate so much. Do yo not know where the millions upon millions is being diverted? You want more sidewalks? More for schools? Parks? Police and jails? The Urban Growth Boundary has spawned the worst developments this region has ever seen. Leaving the environment to roofs, concrete and asphalt. There was no public vote for UGB either. No public vote for most of our land use planning either.

    I'm sure you folks who mock the 61% who voted for M37 wish we would stop voting on everything.

    You want to do something to help the Portland region. Stop the 140 million Washington County Commuter Rail. There is not a single public benefit and it will trigger a lengthy period of municipal swindles, back room deals, tax abatements and public subsidies for development like the Round in Beaverton.

    And when some Oregonians build a few houses and your life and Oregon does go on, take back the crap you spewed in condemning your fellow Oregonians. Have fun spending the new revenue as well.

  • Ruth (unverified)

    All I know is, my non-political friends who voted for measure 37 (and deeply regret it now) thought it sounded like a good idea, until I pointed out that any compensation would have to come from our tax dollars.

    the genius of the voters pamphlet was the wording "paid by government" -- most people didn't stop to think that WE are the government and the money to compensate land owners would come out of our pockets.

    What happens when people who want to sell their farmland, do so (and sure, maybe this should be allowed, or some of the land use laws looked at--just not gutted!). Then the land gets snapped up for a big ol' country McMansion with acreage. Next thing you know, the rich new homeowner turns around to support a new initiative to protect the land around his acreage from development...cuz who wants a Walmart next door?

  • Steve Schopp (unverified)

    Ruth says, """ or some of the land use laws looked at--just not gutted!)."""

    There is no "gutting" underway. M37 is the only way the "looked at" would ever happen. You have been hanging around here too much and have bought into all of the baloney. Zoning remains intact Ruth. Environmental protections do too. As far as McMansions go. Becasue of our land use laws and planing even one acre is a fortune now. And no but the wealthy can afford such a lot or any of the counltess homes on acres now rimming our UGB. The UGB has created a special rich only zoning area everywhere any land is available within ten miles of the city.
    And you're worried about what? Those folks stopping a Walmart??? ????? Please Ruth take a drive around a note the ugliest development and ugliest neighborhoods are those created within the dictates of Metro and high density requirments. All of the pre-iconic planning neighborhoods are the ones with yards and space for PEOPLE.

  • Eric (unverified)

    Again, you all are debating the merits of M37 -- but really, the public voted twice now.

    All that voted no on M37 and M7 cannot claim the public didn't know....the $2.5 million spent against M7 and the nearly $4 million against M37 showed that they just didn't care.

    Therefore, how about some positive solutions? How about a bond measure to pay for some claims, or some fundraisers to acquire property?

    I hate to say it but I am afraid that that 1000 Friends and Portland Audubon are headed down a path to further undermine efforts to protect wetlands, wild areas, and Oregon's special places by insulting the intelligence of the Oregon voter ( If I was the “Yes on 37” campaign if would put the first post above in a fundraising letter to show the arrogance and potential threat).

    Telling people time and time again that they were stupid and just didn't understand won't work. That is my frustration. Why don't we just pay the people with the most important places...let's match the campaigns on M7 & M37 and raise $7 million this year to protect the most important places,….or will we not put our money where our mouths are?

    Is there any group that is actually collecting money to buy property from these property owners?

    Please let me know.


  • (Show?)

    Seven million dollars is not near enough. After Measure 7 passed a Canadian-based mining company filed a $50 million claim against Jacksonville for only allowing it to run a limited number of gravel trucks through its downtown during the day (the whole town national historic place, and it allows the company to run unlimited trucks through at night). Does the tourism-based town lose value when such trucks run through? Yes. Does Measure 7 or 37 take that into account? No.

    Sadly, Oregon voters aren't engaged in the process. Anyone who claims that voters fully understood the issue simply isn't in touch with average voters (or watching polling or focus groups of these folks). I urge you to talk to average people about what they think about Measure 37. Probably fewer than one in five voters knows what what it is.

    Here's a poll: how many Oregonians want to use tax dollars to pay off developers to not desecrate Wallowa Lake and the resting place of Old Joseph? How many want to just allow the development? How many would prefer to leave it as-is?

    The fact is if you simply change one word in the ballot title -- from (roughly) "Requires Government to Pay Land Owners, or Forego Enforcement, When Land Use Restrictions Reduce Property Value," to "Requires Taxpayers to Pay..." support drops below 50%. Is it the same law? Yes.

    Not even the lawyers and policy wonks can guess what Measure 37 actually does. When you think that the average voter knows what it will do and supports it, you're um, what's a nice way to say you're on crack? um, you're mistaken? :)

  • Randy S (unverified)


    "M37 has many upsides, not the least of which is increasing the availability of more affordable housing."

    Oh, please.

    Any credible source for this other than your wishful thinking and M37 ads?

    I've been around builders and developers for years. Absent government subsidies, tax breaks or low-cost loans, no self-respecting builder or developer will use good land for low income housing when the profits are so much higher for upper middle and higher housing. What's the point of building low income housing if there is (a) no transportation infrastructure to support the residents (what? no MAX or bus service out to east Gresham?) and (b) no jobs close to housing.

    I challenge you to point out a single low-housing project in the state which was denied because of the "problems" M37 was supposed to fix.

    Do the math. Build a McMansion at around .75 million with a 10 - 12% profit margin or build a 6-plex at around .50 million with a 7 - 9% profit margin?

  • PanchoPdx (unverified)


    What makes you think that "low income housing" projects are the ONLY way to increase the percentage of home ownership?

    M37 will result in more homes built.

    Do you think the "McMansions" will be rentals?

    Increasing the supply of McMansions will make them a little more affordable to middle income homeowners. Those middle income homeowners who buy those McMansions will sell their current homes for slightly less. And so on. The supply of affordable housing increases and eventually more people can afford to own.

    The added economic activity involved in building these houses reduces unemployment, qualifying more people to purchase from the increased supply of homes.

    Call it wishful thinking if you like. I'll just call your outlook pessimistic. Only time will tell.

  • (Show?)


    You said that the person that wrote M37 is a Democrat? HA HA. That's funny. Oregonians in Action led by David Hunnicutt and Frank Nims--a Democrat group? HA HA. That's funny. Check out their links of interest. Would you consider these Democrat groups?

  • Randy S (unverified)


    "Call it wishful thinking if you like. I'll just call your outlook pessimistic. Only time will tell."

    Increase "low income housing" were your words, not mine.

    I call it remnants of the old now-discredited "trickle down" theories from the Reagan era.

    I notice you produced no links to authoritative (or even marginally believeable) studies, data or expert opinion to substantiate your claim.

    And I would think that a free marketer would understand the math I suggested direct from the real world of builders and developers.

  • PanchoPdx (unverified)

    Actually Randy I wrote that M37 would lead to "an increase in home ownership".

    You wrote about "low income housing".

    Just look at my post, it's twelve up from this one.

    Or you can just keep making up the things you wanted me say.

  • (Show?)

    Jenson.... As strange as it may seem, David Hunnicutt is a Democrat. Weird, but true.

    Then again, so was Kevin Mannix - back in '94.

  • Steve Schopp (unverified)

    Kari says ""Jenson.... As strange as it may seem, David Hunnicutt is a Democrat. Weird, but true.""

    Even stranger, and contrary to the lazy & fabricated ilk more easily opposed, is Dave is a good guy. A sincere and honest Oregonian, a family man, professional and dedicated to the pursuit of fair and reasonable public policies.

  • Heather (unverified)

    I am soon to be a neighbor to a Measure 37 claim and I live in the county with the most expensive claims filed so far in the state. The problem with 37 for me is that it privileges long-time land owners over those of us who have bought their property more recently. When I bought my 18 acres in Hood River 2 years ago I did extensive research to find out not just my zoning but the zoning of all my neighbors. They were all zoned Exclusive Farm Use--important for me because I was looking for a rural property that would stay rural. Now I find that one of my neighbors has owned her land since 1965 and yes she'd like to build houses. I have friends who are orchardists whose property is flanked by a M37 claim for a 450 house subdivision (try farming next to that! the lawsuits generated by the spraying alone will probably put them out of business!)

    The unfair aspect of the implementation of land-use planning back in the 1970s was that it changed the rules after the game started (suddenly property owners couldn't do things that they could do when they bought their property). Measure 37 seeks to redress that but it creates a whole new class of losers like me who have just had the rules changed in mid-game--suddenly my neighbor can do things that are detrimental to my property value and quality of life that she wasn't allowed to do when I bought the place. And M37 gives no legal standing for the people most effected by a land-use waiver--the neighbors.

    If any of you are neighbors to M37 claims (or who have friends who are) we are starting an advocacy group to get some basic statewide rights for neighbors: 1) the right to be notified about a claim within a short time after its submitted (in our county neighbors are only notified after the claim has been determined to be valid--a case of closing the barn door way after the horse has left) 2) legal standing in public hearings and the right to be at the negotiating table (it turns out that most claims will be negotiated settlements with give and take between the claimant and local government--the neighbors sure should have a voice in these decisions). If anyone is interested, email me at [email protected]

  • the prof (unverified)


    I don't think you will be able to sustain the argument that the M37 claim will be detrimental to your property values. Wouldn't the ability to subdivide your property substantially increase its value?

    Quality of life is a much more complicated issue. Another individual mentioned in the Oregonian story probably drew a lot less sympathy: someone who bought acreage, built an expensive home, and now says they want to maintain the rural vista. How do we gauge this person's claim, which seems to have a lot less merit?

    One of my student's family is filing a M37 claim -- they've been hammered by imported Chilean pears and they're thrilled that they can now subdivide part of their land. Given the fruit market and its accessibilty to Portland, Mt. Hood, and the Gorge, I have to wonder whether Hood River has a long term future in agriculture.

    I'm not trying to be argumentative (no scratch that, I am, but in a friendly way), just trying to understand the issues here.

  • Steve Schopp (unverified)

    The cost of the median house in Portland metro area rose 9.35% last year.

    With availability and affordability declining at these rate is there a severe problem? What does that mean for families with children moving here? If the largest purchase item, housing, has a 9.35% rise in cost in one year what does that say for affordability of other basic needs and expenses? Such as health insurance, food, medicine, taxes and fees?

    Has our land use planning been successful?

  • (Show?)

    Steve's implication -- that land use planning has harmed housing affordability -- is simply wrong.

    Home prices in western cities without strong land use planning systems -- San Diego, Salt Lake, Denver, Los Angeles, etc. are higher (and increasing at similar rates) as Portland's.

    Sophisticated peer-reviewed statistical studies have found that there's little to no evidence that our land use planning system has significantly increased housing prices.

    Even the homebuilder's lobbyist Jon Chandler -- and their own studies -- have admitted there's little proof that land use planning has impacted home prices.

    For more, visit 1000 Friends' web site at and click on the UGBs and Housing Costs fact sheet.

  • Steve Schopp (unverified)

    Pardon the sarcasm Evan but ya it's all good and no adverse effects have come from our land use planning.

    "The Impact of Building Restrictions on Housing Affordability"

    The bulk of the evidence marshaled in this paper suggests that zoning, and other land-use controls, are more responsible for high prices where we see them. There is a huge gap between the price of land implied by the gap between home prices and construction costs and the price of land implied by the price differences between homes on 10,000 square feet and homes on 15,000 square feet. Measures of zoning strictness are highly correlated with high prices. Although all of our evidence is suggestive, not definitive, it seems to suggest that this form of government regulation is responsible for high housing costs where they exist.

  • Steve Schopp (unverified)

    Evan, From your 1000 freinds, not mine
    "the median price for a Portland home in the second quarter of 1999 was $160,000"

    You may want to call them and suggest they update their site. And look at the graph in today's O which is not on Oregonlive. You'll see the saoring housing costs in Portland from 92 to 04. Then keep pretending all is well. The shortage pushed the area's median sales price to $204,500, up 9.35 percent over the recently revised $187,000 median recorded for 2003.

  • Heather (unverified)


    No, my property value would not increase because I can not subdivide my land--Measure 37 does not allow that, it only allows me to get back to whatever zoning was in place when I bought the property (it was exclusive farm use when I bought it and therefore not dividable). This is something that you should bring up to your student, his/her family is only eligible for a claim if their zoning has changed since they bought it (Hood River has had agricultural zoning since 1965 but it became quite a bit more restrictive from about 1976). So if they bought their property in 1981 there is a very good chance that they won't have a valid claim at all. Meanwhile their neighbor who bought their land in 1975 can create a little septic subdivision. This is what I mean about 37 creating winners and losers.

    Incidentally, I do think we need to address the issue of foreign competition and economic viability for these farmers. The Hood River Valley isn't pretty good farmland, it is the best in the world for orchards. It has everything--climate, perfect mixture of volcanic/alluvial soils, south facing slopes, plentiful water (and an irrigation infrastructure paid for to a large extent by taxpayer dollars), economies of scale because of concentration of growers. For me, maintaining our nations ability to feed itself is a national security issue. When Tommy Thompson left Health and Human Services he said he couldn't quite believe that terrorists hadn't attacked our food supply because it would be so easy to do. We need to be able to feed ourselves and key to that is protecting the very most productive farmland.

guest column

connect with blueoregon