Early in the legislative session many bills filed that may never get a hearing or may languish in committee. This year, as in sessions past, Oregon property rights advocates are taking aim at the process around land use decisions. With unemployment remaining stubbornly high and "economic development" the buzzwords of even the most left-leaning lawmaker, there may be more interest than in recent sessions in bills that would make it far more difficult—and expensive—to oppose the wishes of property owners.
House Bills 2181 and 2182, for instance, would force people who want to appeal land-use decisions to pay an applicant’s legal fees if they lose—and to post attorney's fees in advance if they aren't directly involved in the decision. Both measures were introduced by Reps. Sal Esquivel (R-Medford), Wayne Krieger (R-Gold Beach) and Mike Schaufler (D-Happy Valley).
"These bills seem designed to kill or severely limit citizen participation," says 1000 Friends of Oregon spokesman Eric Stachon, whose group often gets involved in land use cases. "We will strongly oppose them."
Both bills are scheduled for a possible hearing on Feb. 15 at 1 pm in front of the House Judiciary Committee.