Oregon Communities

For a Voice In Annexations

Promoting and Protecting Citizen Involvement in Land Use Issues

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Some Key Questions and Answers about
Voting on Annexations

Information provided by Oregon Communities for a Voice In Annexations

What is “Voter Annexation?”

"Voter Annexation" is a short-hand term for the process of requiring voter approval of new annexations to a city.  This requirement is put into place via city charter amendments.  Corvallis passed the first one in 1976. 30 other Oregon cities, including Salem, have since followed suit with others in the works. Nearly all were passed by initiative and by large margins. OCVA is a coalition of citizens’ groups within those communities.  Where Oregonians have been given a choice of whether or not they want to approve annexations, they have overwhelmingly said “YES!”

Why are city voters passing these measures?

Because they want a greater say in how their communities grow and in who pays for that growth. Too often, they feel shut out of the decision-making process by their local jurisdictions.

Why is voter annexation an issue for the Legislature?

Because the building and real estate lobbies are vehemently against it.  They have tried repeatedly since the 1997 session to outlaw or undermine voter annexation.  OCVA has so far succeeded in defeating all of these assaults. In keeping with our prime objective, OCVA remains vigilant during every session.

Does voter annexation violate or contradict state land use law?

NO!  In fact, Oregon’s highest courts have repeatedly held that annexation votes are not even governed by state land use law! The courts have further held that annexation votes are an integral part of the discretionary annexation process.  The Corvallis voter annexation charter amendment has survived a Supreme Court challenge. See our page of specific examples of case law.

Is voter annexation being used as an anti-growth tool?

NO!  The vast majority of annexations in cities with “the vote” are approved.

Does voter annexation lead to higher housing costs?

There is no hard evidence to support this. Portland, Eugene and the Oregon coast have the highest housing costs in the state. None has a voter annexation ordinance in place.

Does voter annexation undermine a city’s comprehensive plan?

NO!  All the quasi-judicial steps necessary for an annexation to occur are unchanged when citizens vote on annexations. The vote is merely an additional political step in the process.

Don’t Oregonians already have the right to vote on annexations?

Yes - via ORS-195, ORS-197, ORS-222 and other statutes under certain circumstancesBut these statutes are NOT the same as voter annexation charter amendments.  They do not allow the level of public participation that the charter amendments provide.

How can I get voting on annexations put into place in my town?

By amending your city's charter.  Here's how to do it.

This page last modified on 2013-02-20 17:44 .