Under Oregon's Measure 37, any person or developer who owns land can say, "I'd like to build a subdivision or strip mall, but laws say I can't, so let me build or pay me off."
That person or corporation files a claim and you, the taxpayers, have to (a) write a fat check or (b) exempt them from the law and let them build whatever they want.
Citizens in Oregon weren't told before they voted on Measure 37 that they'd be gutting their ability to control suburban sprawl, to protect farmlands and forests from being paved over. They also weren't told the price tag for all these claims: 2,500 filed so far.
Now farmers and others who voted for the initiative are seeing the truth: unlimited sprawl, a nightmare of red tape and a blank check taxpayers are forced to sign.
This radical Oregon initiative turned everything know about land planning upside down.
Two people filed a claim for a 1 million-square-foot mall and 17 homes on farm and forest land. The Polk County Board of Commissioners approved the claim. It's not like they have a choice -- it's either approve it or bankrupt the county by paying millions for every claim like this.
Cities and counties protect their citizens by planning for growth. It costs you a lot of money to build water pipes, roads, sidewalks and such. Sub-urban sprawl hits taxpayers in the pocketbook because the more spread out you are, the greater the infastructure requirements, the bigger the bills for such services as water, police and firefighters.
Plus comon sense decision like building prisons or chemical plants next to schools. You don't to put a landfill or strip mall just any old place. You don't put a Wal-Mart in a wheat field serviced by a two-lane county road.
A judge in Oregon did rule Measure 37 unconstitutional, saying it created huge loopholes for a privileged few to exploit and violated safeguards for the health and safety of citizens. Not all property owners can file claims. Only a privileged few, the elite, those who've owned land before land-use laws passed, get to file claims.
But this idea has enough money behind it, from developers and timber companies, to keep it in the courts with the best lawyers money can buy. Meanwhile, the claims keep piling up.
This idea was sold to citizens as a reform to help underdogs, but it's just another trick that lines the pockets of the fat cats at the expense of the taxpayer.