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For a Voice In Annexations

Promoting and Protecting Citizen Involvement in Land Use Issues

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July 2001 Newsletter

(Note: E-mail addresses in this newsletter have been reformatted to reduce spammers' ability to harvest addresses from our web site.)

July 26, 2001

Greetings to all! The 2001 Legislature has adjourned and it’s time for our post-session wrap up. As far as OCVA is concerned, this was our best session since our organization was formed back in 1996. It was significant for us not only for what happened, but for what didn’t happen as well.

At last January’s Board of Directors meeting, the board set two primary legislative goals for OCVA: Protect and preserve voter annexation and pass anti-SLAPP legislation. WE DID BOTH! Let’s start with our prime directive:

THE VOTER ANNEXATION BATTLE: What was perhaps most significant for us in this past session was that, for the first time since our inception, the builders & realtors did not write any legislation to directly vacate our (now) 30 local voter annexation charter amendments. Nor were they able to convince DLCD or the League of Oregon Cities to take us on. This was a far cry from 1997 when the OBIA lobbyist vowed to "kick us in the head." But we killed their SB-1137 and prevented a sneaky, last – minute "Gut & Stuff" with SB-500 in that session. Then in 1999 they came at us with Ryan Deckert’s HB-3389 directly and with HB-2880, plus several others through the "back door." We beat all of them, thanks to your overwhelming support and our growing credibility and strength.

This time, there was no direct assault. But Happy Valley’s Mayor, still stewing over our Happy Valley chapter passing a voter annexation charter amendment, teamed up with freshman Republican Representative Jan Lee to spawn HB-3767. While this bill did not directly seek to vacate our voter annexation amendments, it would have done so in a convoluted, roundabout manner. HB 3767 would have required cities with UGBs of more than 2,500 to provide a wide array of urban services – without a vote – to those UGBs. Provision of urban services requires annexation. And this had to be done by January, 2003 – without a clue as to how these cities were to pay for the necessary infrastructure. By removing the voter approval provision, the bill not only would have repealed a key section of ORS-195, but would also effectively have outlawed voter annexation. The mayor was the strongest opponent of Happy Valley’s voter annexation effort. This sure looked like revenge to us.

The Legislature has a habit of dictating unfunded mandates to our communities (what’s new?). We pulled out all the stops on this turkey. Rep. Lee was bombarded from all sides. Even the League of Oregon Cities was against 3767. In spite of this, it got assigned to the "Smart Growth & Commerce" Committee, chaired by our nemesis Rep. Bill Witt who has basically fought us tooth and nail on our key issues. But even those who want so much to kill voter annexation couldn’t swallow the unfunded mandate and the blatant assault on local control. We’re told by our sources that HB-3767 drew widespread wrath, even from the pro-growth establishment, and "died a horrible death." AMEN, BROTHERS & SISTERS!!! Shortly thereafter, Rep Lee announced her dissatisfaction with and defection from the "radical" leadership of the Republican Party, and declared that she would become an independent. We think the hammering she took over HB 3767 played a part in her decision.

ANTI-SLAPP LEGISLATION: It’s not a coincidence that we chose July 26 as the date of this newsletter. This is the day Oregon’s new anti-SLAPP law goes into effect! You know the history. But after 4 plus years, Mission Accomplished! Governor Kitzhaber, saying, "This is a long day in coming," signed our HB-2460 into law on June 26 before a packed room of anti-SLAPP coalition supporters and the media.

The victory belongs not just to OCVA, but to the many other member groups and citizens of our anti-SLAPP coalition who have fought so hard to make this happen. It was an uphill struggle all the way against the development community which clearly wanted to retain this despicable weapon against public debate. SLAPPs were a formidable tool for shutting down public participation in voter annexation (e.g., the recent Parkland annexation SLAPP threat in Corvallis) and other public and land use issues. Many of you know all too well what we’re talking about!

As with most such efforts, we did have to make some compromises. For example, we didn’t get a punitive damages provision. But we did get provisions for expedited dismissal and recovery of attorneys’ fees if the court deems a lawsuit to be frivolous. A plaintiff will have to show a high probability that he/she would prevail in such a suit for it to be allowed to move forward. The scope of the protection is widespread, and includes such things as letters, lawn signs and testimony before public bodies. It does NOT protect against deliberate slander or libel, and your testimony must be germane to the issue being debated by the public body. But it should put a damper on the growing SLAPP problem in Oregon and provide citizens with protection against the economic and legal terrorism of these frivolous suits.

Recall that we got HB-2460 through the House on a 50 to 8 margin of victory. But also recall that we were a month behind the last session’s schedule by the time the bill went to the Senate. Senate President Gene Derfler was already making plans to shut down the Senate committees within a week. After furious lobbying, our coalition succeeded in getting the bill assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where the aforementioned compromises occurred. The Parkland situation in Corvallis brought out the media in force on our side. Under such public scrutiny and heavy coalition lobbying, the amended bill made it out of committee and sailed through the Neil Bryant-less Senate by a vote of 24 to 4. The House then voted 47 to 4 to concur with the Senate amendments. Honoring the commitment he made to us in the 1999 session, Governor Kitzhaber signed HB-2460 into law.

We feel that we got the best bill we could hope for under the political reality of the 2001 session. The list of kudos is long. We’ll start with our sponsors, Reps. Kurt Schrader and Lane Shetterly. Also joining the fray were The Oregon Newspaper Publishers’ Association, Mitch Rohse and the Oregon Chapter of the American Planning Association, the League of Women Voters, Friends of Yamhill County, 1000 Friends of Oregon, Friends of Florence, the Oregon Farm Bureau, Bill Boyer and ARLU-DECO, Larry DeBates and the CIAC of DLCD and LCDC, Alternatives To Growth Oregon (AGO), the city councils in our OCVA member communities who passed resolutions of support, the "Yachats Five," Oregon’s Future magazine, our wonderful board of directors, the many editors who wrote supporting and enlightening editorials and our many members who gave us such great support with letters, testimony, phone calls, etc. We’re also going to thank Senator Derfler – a long time opponent – for allowing the legislation to move forward.

This is a MAJOR WELL DONE for all of us! It will re-invigorate citizen involvement (Goal #1 of state land use law) and the public process. As a result, Oregon now joins 13 other states with anti-SLAPP laws on the books. We know of 4 additional states that are considering similar legislation. These actions point to the bigger picture of the SLAPP problem nationwide. The First Amendment and Free Speech must be constantly defended by the people, lest they (we) lose these freedoms. The new law is posted on our web site (www.ocva.org). We still want you to advise us if you experience or hear about any SLAPPs or threats of SLAPPs.

ORS-195 AMENDMENT: We did not achieve success with HB-3331. This bill, for which we recommended the language, would have prevented more "shotgun weddings" of the type that occurred when Bend annexed its whole UGB in 1999. Only the opposition was informed of the one hearing the bill received in the House Water & Environment Committee. This committee itself was heavy with pro-development representatives. As a result, the bill died in committee. We want to thank Rep. Ben Westlund for trying (again) for us on this. But it’s probably a lost cause. We’ll evaluate the climate in 2003 to see if we think it’s worth while to try again.

MEASURE 7 REVISITED: Our chairman was an invited speaker at the Measure 7 forum held at Willamette University in April. The event was cosponsored by the Willamette’s Public Policy Research Center and Oregon’s Future magazine. This forum brought all sides to the table to discuss the dynamics and political realities of Measure 7 – the "takings" initiative, passed by voters last November. The event was exceptionally well-attended by all of the major players in the state. Its best feature was that it gave the various interests an opportunity to interact and hear different perspectives. OCVA’s perspective is that there is such a thing as "collective" or "community" takings by government: i.e., forcing growth upon communities through government policies, which the people then must subsidize. As we pointed out to the spokesman for Oregonians In Action (sponsor of Measure 7), OCVA has been articulating the takings issue for the past 5 years. We’ve done this through initiatives and elections giving people a greater voice in the destinies of their communities. We feel that this is a much more equitable and workable approach to the widely-perceived problem of government intrusion into our lives. Our way keeps the baby.

During the 2001 session, Rep. Max Williams chaired a committee to try to resolve the differences and controversies surrounding Measure 7. But when the debate got to the point of "who’s going to pay and how are people to be compensated?" the major stakeholders pulled their support for a solution. Oregon’s Future did an excellent job (Spring 2001 issue) covering Measure 7 and its fallout. As you know, they have also supported us on the SLAPP issue.  Measure 7 will, out of necessity, continue to be the topic of much debate. OCVA isn’t going to resolve this issue – but we do plan to continue to participate in the debate. The issue of individual rights vs the collective interests of communities is an old problem that will be with us for a long time.

SCHOOL SDCs: The "Fair Funding For Schools" coalition is still planning on filing a statewide initiative for school SDCs. We plan on having the language posted on our web site soon. Our thanks to all our members who’ve filled out the support forms and sent them in. The initiative should be filed within the next month. We expect the building lobby to challenge the language as they did last time. Recall that their challenge was rejected by the Supreme Court – but they did succeed in delaying the signature gathering so that there was insufficient time to obtain all the required signatures. This initiative is planned for the November 2002 election. To assist, please see the prior contact information or OCVA’s web site.

MIKE SWAIM FOR THE OREGON SENATE! One of our strongest allies, Salem Mayor Mike Swaim, has told OCVA that he intends to seek the Oregon Senate seat being vacated by outgoing Senate President Gene Derfler. Depending on how the courts rule on term limits, Peter Courtney could seek another term as Senator in which case Mike would possibly run for the House District instead. Mike has been a staunch advocate of voter annexation and fair SDCs. He has been a constant voice for equity and fairness in the human rights arena. Mike is also a battle-hardened veteran, having been on the front lines in the very ugly, but ultimately successful Salem voter annexation fight. We strongly encourage our membership and affiliate organizations to help Mike get elected to the Legislature either way. If you can make a contribution or volunteer your time, contact Mike at 270 Cottage St., NE, Salem, 97301; ph# 503-363-0063 – or – his campaign chairman, Brian Clem ("brianclem AT uswest.net"), ph# 503-871-4084. Mike would be an outstanding leader in the Legislature as a Senator or a State Representative.

WEST LINN UGLINESS: West Linn’s pro-development former city councilors and their allies have launched a "scorched earth" assault against OCVA’s David Dodds, recently elected mayor of West Linn. The "old guard," ousted from power through city election, have leveled their heavy guns at David.

They have accused him of improprieties in an attempt to force him to resign. This looks to us to be the same kind of thing we’ve seen in other OCVA communities (Salem, Albany, Philomath….we don’t want to run out of paper…) where the former power brokers are removed from office and then try to burn City Hall down around them on their way out the door. OCVA has complete confidence and faith in David. If you know David, you know what we’re talking about. Tell him you appreciate his efforts on your behalf.

HOW TO GET RICH QUICK (AND LOSE YOUR SOUL): The Oregonian (6/27/01) reports that 1000 Friends of Oregon, was offered $50,000 by a developer to assist the land use watchdog group in its campaign to help defeat Measure 7. Of course there was a catch: 1000 Friends would have to drop its court challenge to a proposed UGB expansion (700 homes) in Washington County. While there was nothing illegal about this, to the credit of 1000 Friends and director Robert Liberty, the "Friends" turned the offer down. We’re sharing this with you to illustrate the lengths to which some development interests are willing to go to get their way. Do you know where your local developer is and what he or she is doing? As Jeff says, It’s The Money!!!!

PEOPLE & PLACES: Some changes have occurred within OCVA recently. Long-time Board of Directors member Howard Paine of Sisters, one of the original cofounders of OCVA, has retired from the board. Howard has been one of the most active foot soldiers in our battles to preserve voter annexation and to implement fair SDCs. Sisters was the first Oregon city to pass an SDC initiative, largely through the actions of Howard, Bill Boyer and other civic-minded citizens. Howard also worked very hard with us on the SLAPP issue. Oregon is a better place to live because of Howard. We want to acknowledge his excellent service in support of citizen involvement. We’ll miss Howard and wish him the best. In Salem, Jack Holloway has been elected the new president of Citywatch. Jack, along with Richard Reid, were at the forefront of one of the nastiest voter annexation fights in Oregon’s history. We want to acknowledge Richard’s excellent leadership of Citywatch, and we appreciate Jack’s willingness to take over the reins. Citywatch has been one of the more effective citizens’ groups in Oregon.

IN CONCLUSION: OCVA has been fortunate to have been associated with some of the finest, most dedicated people anyone could hope to meet. Our successes against great odds bear witness to the dedication and strength of our membership. We’ve done things that millions of dollars and highly-paid lobbyists have tried to stop but couldn’t. As always, It’s The…(never mind – you’ve already heard that.).

But speaking of which, OCVA having delivered the bacon, finds itself in familiar waters: Happy but broke. We don’t live in Klamath Falls, so we DO have water….but not much else. So we – and especially our treasurer, Brian – would appreciate money instead of water. As always, we remain ever grateful for your continued support.

In closing, we had a better year than our adversaries did – and any year in which that happens is a good year. But again as always, we cannot and must not let our guard down. 2003 and the next Legislative Session will be here before you know it. Untold mischief will be afoot as it always is. We are asking you to continue to make sure we can be in the trenches again when the fight is on again. As we’ve reminded you in the past: WE have to win every time. THEY have to win only once.

Pat Yourselves On The Back: You Deserve It!!! These Victories are YOURS!


Jeffrey R. Lamb                 Jerry J. Ritter



This came in after the newsletter went to the printer but we feel it’s important enough to share with our entire membership. As most of you know, many city administrations are reluctant to pass an implementing annexation ordinance after the citizens have passed a voter annexation charter amendment. Grants Pass is no exception. This is one of the ugliest fights that we’ve had to date and now they’re trying to lump 15 annexations together in a straight up or down vote with no impact analysis. Kathleen’s letter is somewhat self-explanatory.

Once again, we cannot stress enough the necessity to have a strong annexation ordinance that the city council will follow. After all, your mayors and councilors have taken an oath upon being sworn in to follow your city’s charter and the law. If anyone out there has any input that would be helpful, please contact Kathleen at the number listed below. We know that cities talk amongst themselves about how they can avoid impact analysis. It seems the trend is to put annexations on the ballot without plans and a minimal amount of information, thus the voters have to make very important decisions with lack of the proper knowledge. That is not what the voter annexation movement is all about. We hope this knowledge is helpful.     Jeff Lamb


On 7/23/01 Kathleen Doyle wrote:

Hi Jeff,

The city of Grants Pass has chosen to list 15 of the upcoming 16 annexations on one yes or no vote. The only reason they separated off the 16th property is that the residents have organized and filed a LUBA complaint and the city is worried that contested annexation will bring the rest down. When I asked the city planner what the justification for this lumping together is, he said that last year’s voter’s pamphlet was 2 volumes and they were trying to save the voters from such an ordeal as voting separately!

Scott Tighe at the state elections office suggested checking out ORS 250.270 to see if this violates the one subject per vote issue. If so, he said we would have to hire an attorney and file a complaint in the circuit court. This will be an economic issue for our motley crew.

The city planner also told me that there is no impact statements filed for any of these annexations. He also told me the Grants Pass Development code is an ordinance, not just a policy. This means, I believe, that it’s legally binding until amended.

The Grants Pass Development Code reads under Section 5.043 Annexation Agreements, subsection 2:

The director prepares the full annexation study which shall include:

B. Property description, comprehensive plan and zoning designations, existing land use, physical characteristics, and existing facilities and services.

D. Capital improvements and their costs for water, sewer, streets and strorm drain, services required in public rights of way or easements prior to development and/or prior to final annexation.

E. Costs for fire and police protection, if available, prior to annexation

F. Summary of service costs and revenues to the city at full development

H. Proposed partition, subdivision and/or development site plan.

To a non-lawyer, it appears that the city of Grants Pass is openly refusing the follow their own development code. Am I reading this right and what can we do?

Among the 16 proposed annexations (260 acres, all 16 are separate) there are 4 bare land subdivision/development deals, there are a few islands, and there is a large industrial park. The 90 acre Spalding Industrial park is the one that will kill us if the ballot lumps them. The front page of the Courier has heralded how many thousands (!) of jobs this park will provide and the economic development agency (SOREDI) that fought us last time will sweep all the other controversial annexations in with the industrial park.

Our first challenge (and we must act quickly) is to find out if there is any way to separate the ballot measures.

Please e-mail me any info or suggestions ASAP or call me at (541) 471-0658.

Kathleen Doyle, Citizens for a Voice in Growth, email: "thunderd AT cdsnet.net"


This page last modified on 2005-09-19 08:39.