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Date: June 28, 2017
To: All League Members and Oregonians
From: Norman Turrill, LWVOR President; Peggy Lynch, LWVOR Natural Resource Coordinator

LWVOR Action Alert!
Contact your Senator and State Representative Now! Tell them our land use planning system works-that Eastern Oregon agricultural lands are critical to feeding Oregon and the world-that unfettered development is costly and our Planning Goals are an expression of Oregon values.

In 1973, Oregonians chose to protect our agricultural industry while supporting livable communities, clean air, clean water and homes for our fish and wildlife. Today those values are in jeopardy. SB 432 was pre-session filed with the express purpose of allowing: “…rural county with no population growth, and certain local governments in county, to adopt comprehensive land use plan without complying with statewide land use planning goals.”

SB 432 assumes that providing raw land outside of urban growth boundaries will automatically spur growth with little public cost, especially in our Eastern Oregon counties, a very important part of Oregon’s agricultural industry. They need thousands of acres in order to provide forage for the cattle industry and to grow wheat and other crops. In these areas, cities and towns cannot afford to expand their drinking water and wastewater infrastructure to serve sprawl. Allowing 5-acre ranchettes will fragment these important lands and adding more exempt wells will drain needed groundwater.

On June 26, the -13 amendment was adopted and the bill has been moved to Ways and Means. The bill allows these rural counties to claim an “exception” to our land use planning Goals, including Goal 1, Citizen Involvement. If this bill passes, the equally concerning SB 644 related to mining could apply SB 432 to remove all land use protections related to mining in Eastern Oregon. In fact, ALL exceptions taken around the state would not have state oversight.

The League of Women Voters of Oregon has been engaged in developing and in supporting our statewide land use planning program since its inception. We strongly support the 19 Goals. Agriculture is the #2 industry in Oregon. We have supported efforts to help these counties, but nationally rural areas continue to lose population as automation occurs in natural resource industries, birth rates decline and new and exciting jobs beckon young people to more urban areas. Providing raw land will not reverse these trends.

League has joined with a broad group of partners representing thousands of Oregonians in explaining the negative effects of SB 432. Your voice is urgently needed. SB 432 and SB 644 are now in Ways and Means, putting them on a fast track to passage. The session will end soon. We need you to share your opposition NOW!

For more information, contact LWVOR at lwvor@lwvor.org.

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