Oregon Communities

For a Voice In Annexations

Promoting and Protecting Citizen Involvement in Land Use Issues

  About OCVA
Mission & history
Officers & board
Member cities
  Issues and initiatives
Voting on annexations
ORS 195 annexations
SDC reform
Controlling growth
SLAPP suits
  Join OCVA!
  OCVA in the news
Legislative scorecards
  Member services
Change address
Alert list
  Contact us

Red alert !!!!   SB 1573 threatens VOA!


SB 1573 is the latest assault by the Oregon Homebuilders Association (OHBA) and its allies in a decades-long crusade to revoke citizens' right to vote on annexations in 30 Oregon communities with a combined population of close to 600,000.  SB 1573 is extremely bad public policy.

The citizens of these communities gave themselves the right, through the initiative process, to vote on discretionary annexation proposals in their towns.  Nearly all these “voter annexation” initiatives passed by wide margins.  Corvallis voters passed the first one in 1976.  Ever since then, development interests have been trying, thus far unsuccessfully, to void them.

All previous efforts during the past 40 years to revoke these local decisions have been rejected, for good reason, by the courts and the Legislature.

OHBA drafted the language for SB 1573 in 2014.  Sen. Chris Edwards agreed to sponsor it as SBs 497 & 498 in 2015.  Sen. Edwards, to his credit, apparently had second thoughts and did not allow a hearing on either bill.  At the 11th hour, the language was allowed to be “stuffed” into a bill we wrote, HB 2938-A, in the Senate Committee on Business & Transportation.  The -3 version ended up in Senate Rules at Sine Die.  It has resurfaced as SB 1573.

Read the original bill (PDF)
Read the -A version (PDF)

This is what the proponents are claiming:

Claim: Citizens regularly reject annexation proposals in these communities.
Fact: The vast majority of the proposals pass.  8 of them were on the ballot in our member cities in November 2014.  All passed handily.  On the rare occasions where an annexation is rejected, as was the case in Sherwood in November 2015, it was because the community simply could not afford it.

Claim: “Voter annexation” violates state land use law.
Fact: As you can read here, voting on annexations is “not controlled by nor subject to state land use law.”

Claim: SB 1573 would apply in only a limited number of cases.
Fact: The annexations addressed by SB 1573 comprise the most common type that occur in Oregon.  Additionally, the bill would deny citizens in all Oregon communities the long-established right to this local control measure.

Claim: “Voter annexation” leads to unaffordable housing.
Fact: There is no hard evidence to support this.  Portland and the coast have some of the state’s highest housing costs.  Neither has “voter annexation.”  There are a number of factors that lead to soaring property prices.  There is no evidence we’ve seen that shows “voter annexation” as being among them.

Claim: This bill needs an “Emergency” clause
Fact: There is no “Emergency.”  Voter annexation has been part of the Oregon landscape for 40 years!


SB 1573 is currently awaiting its third reading in the Senate.  You can check its current status here.

What you need to do


Use this link to find out who YOUR Representative or Senator is: 

Find your legislator

In addition to the points above, here's a sample letter to help you get started:

Dear ----,

I am writing to you today about SB 1573.

SB 1573 attacks the legal right to vote on annexations -- a right now enjoyed by over 600,000 Oregonians in 30 cities.

SB 1573 says:

“(2) Notwithstanding a contrary provision of the city charter or a city ordinance, upon receipt of a petition proposing annexation of territory submitted by all owners of land in the territory, the legislative body of the city shall annex the territory without submitting the proposal to the electors of the city if: "

As you can see…

SB 1573 wipes out the legal right to vote on annexations that was confirmed by the Oregon Supreme Court years ago.

SB 1573 is unnecessary. Out of a total of 146 elections over the years only 12 annexations have been rejected.

SB 1573 crushes “home rule” -- our right to petition our government.

SB 1573 amends City Charters without city or citizen approval, overriding Cities' ability to make their own land use decisions. This bill is so bad that the League of Oregon Cities is on record as opposing it.

Measure 5, 47 and 50 are limiting tax revenues, so cities need to fund their systems maintenance backlogs. SB 1573 forces cities to accept annexation even when a city can’t afford it.

Everyone knows annexations impact everything from farmland to city finances. SB1573 will deny voting on annexations no matter how inappropriate or egregious an annexation may be.

SB 1573 opens the floodgate to sprawl onto productive land, historic land, recreational land, habitat for rare and unusual plants and animals and above all, land recognized around the world for its beauty.

ALL Oregonians have the right to speak in favor or against discretionary annexations but that’s not enough. Only voting gives citizens local control.

SB 1573 takes that away, forever.


Thank you for your consideration of this matter.

This page last modified on 2016-02-28 16:10