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June 2002 Newsletter

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

June 18, 2002

Dear OCVA Members & Friends:

We hope you’re all having a good spring and summer – despite the lunacy that is enveloping the planet. Here’s an update on OCVA’s activities and pertinent issues around the state.

OCVA Board Meeting May 25: OCVA’s Board of Directors met in beautiful downtown Philomath on May 25 to elect a new slate of officers & board members and to discuss a number of important issues. First, you’ll see some new names on our letterhead (left). These are your new officers and board. Jim Thompson is our new Vice Chairman and brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and drive to the OCVA leadership. Bill Bodden joins the board from Central Oregon. Bill has been working tirelessly on annexation and SDC issues for a long time. Kevin Frostad, outgoing Vice Chairman, remains on the board. Kevin has done an outstanding job for us and we very much appreciate the work he has put into this organization. Kevin has indicated that he may run for Mayor in Sandy! Those who know Kevin realize that he’d make an outstanding public official – especially considering the great job his wife, Tina, is doing as a Sandy city councilor.

Highlights Of The Board Meeting: The first major item of business was reports of officers. Treasurer Brian Beinlich actually had some good news on the financial front (first time ever!): OCVA has a few (very few) bucks in the bank. That’s thanks to YOU getting your dues in! Jim Thompson advised us that long-time adversary and former legislator Ken Strobeck (R) is now the director of The League Of Oregon Cities! That certainly won’t help us, or the issues surrounding our communities’ challenges in accommodating growth. Secretary Jerry Ritter reported on the increase in ORS-195 annexation attempts around the state (more on that later). Chairman Jeff Lamb reported that a number of cities have endorsed our resolutions on SDCs and repeal of the 20-year land supply law. Discussions then continued on the agenda items as follows:

OFIR Presentation: Immigration – The Big Picture On Growth: In our February 7 newsletter, we talked about America’s failed immigration policy and the effect this has on Oregon’s growth problems. At the May meeting, Jerry gave a presentation at the request of OCVA’s Jim Ludwick, who is the executive director of Oregonians For Immigration Reform (OFIR). You can contact OFIR at "O4IR AT excite.org" or 1-503-435-0141. Some of the pertinent facts and data are as follows:

  • Immigration will double the U.S. population in 50 – 75 years
  • There are between 8 and 10 million illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S. America takes in twice as many immigrants as the rest of the world’s nations combined.
  • U.S. Workers lose $125 billion/year in wages due to competition with immigrants. Oregon taxpayers spend $50 – 60 million/year funding "English As A Second Language" programs.
  • Immigration has a net cost to U.S. Taxpayers of close to $70 billion per year.

This launched the group into the most lengthy and heated discussion of the day. Chairman Lamb just about had to get out the fire hose. The group recognized beyond a doubt that We cannot deal with growth issues without confronting growth’s biggest cause – and that cause is immigration. However, it was also repeatedly pointed out that anyone who dares to criticize U.S. immigration policy will automatically be branded a racist and a xenophobe. Several personal accounts were brought up. Jerry stressed, and the board generally agreed (although one member expressed some doubt) that the issue is purely about numbers – not about race.

Immigration is also being discussed by other groups. Alternatives To Growth – Oregon (AGO) recently opened a Corvallis chapter. AGO President Andy Kerr spoke to a standing room only crowd at the Corvallis Library earlier this month. Immigration was one of the many topics discussed. In the wake of the address, a slew of letters to the editor, however, singled out the immigration discussion and played the race card profusely. This is what’s going to happen any time anyone raises the immigration issue – but how long are we going to bury our heads in the sand?

Reports From Cities: Representatives our member cities around the state and from Portland Metro reported on pertinent issues in their communities related to growth. We can’t cover all of these, but here are some of the highlights:

  • North Plains: North Plains passed its voter annexation charter amendment back in 1999 against vehement opposition from the city and development interests. Brian Beinlich reported that the Council referred to city voters in the May Primary a measure to repeal the charter amendment. The referendum was hammered: it failed by a 73% - 27% margin, with next to no press coverage. Had we lost, you can bet the media would have descended on us like vultures. Now, we’re told that the council is going to try this AGAIN in September! As we’ve always said, WE have to win every time. THEY have to win only once. Even with the voter annexation movement firmly established (30 cities & some 500,000 people), governments and developers haven’t let up in their efforts to kill it.
  • Salem: As we reported last time, the mayor’s office and several critical council seats were up for grabs in the primary. Citywatch President Jack Holloway reported that the election was "basically a disaster" and that development interests have re-taken the mayor’s office and the council. However, the outgoing council endorsed both OCVA resolutions (SDCs and repeal of the 20-year land supply law). Also notable was the passage of an ethics measure that requires full disclosure of campaign finances and helps prevent conflicts of interest when the council is considering proposals financed by heavy contributors. Finally, due to what many in Salem perceive to be very biased and slanted coverage by the Statesman Journal, Jack reported that an alternative newspaper is in the works and should be a reality sometime very soon.
  • Metro: (Representing 28 cities): Bill Atherton talked about the Metro Charter’s "carrying capacity" language, which most people don’t know is in there. He will carry the OCVA resolutions to the Metro cities. He feels that a number of these will endorse our resolutions. This takes on added significance with Metro expected to add up to a million more people by 2020. We all need to support Bill in his bid for re-election in November. For obvious reasons, the development community has trained their heaviest artillery on him. And just as The Statesman Journal went after our people in Salem, several Metro area newspapers have gone after Bill with a vengeance. Contact Bill at 503-636-6365 or via email at "atherton AT easystreet.com"
  • Happy Valley: Recall that the mayor of Happy Valley was behind the attempt in the 2001 session to outlaw voter annexation. Our Happy Valley representative, Don Smith, felt that another such attempt in 2003 was likely. We agree. Which freshman legislator will be the cannon fodder this time? It was Rep. Jan Lee in 2001, who ended up bearing the brunt of voter wrath from around the state. She later changed parties (was R.). We don’t blame her.
  • Eugene: The city is considering what to do about its River Road/Santa Clara district in the UGB. It’s currently a patchwork of in-city and unincorporated neighborhoods. Although city leaders insist otherwise, annexation via ORS-195 appears to be one option being considered. Jerry has been attending public meetings and giving OCVA’s input on ORS-195. More on ORS-195 later: It’s probably coming soon to your city or one nearby!

Legislative Agenda

The board adopted the following legislative priorities and objectives for the 2003 session:

  • First and foremost – as always: PROTECT OUR VOTER ANNEXATION LAWS!
  • Get the OCVA SDC and Repeal of the 20-year land supply resolutions enacted into law.
  • Continue to support repeal of the law that prohibits denying a subdivision because of its impact on schools.
  • Try again to amend ORS-195 to require a double majority vote on UGB annexation plans.
  • Strengthen our anti-SLAPP law (passed last session) to include presumed immunity & punitive damages.
  • Repeal the Expedited Land Division law (HB-3065, designed to remove the "public" from the public process)

Needless to say, there’s a lot of work ahead. But based on our record, these are doable! Keep in mind that we continue to achieve our top legislative priorities (e.g., last session: protect voter annexation and pass an anti-SLAPP bill).

Directly tying into the legislative agenda are the OCVA resolutions on SDCs and the 20-year land supply law. It has come to our attention that some city councils have not received our letter of 4/1/02 (copy enclosed). This went to every "mayor and city council" (243) in the state. We suspect that the letter has been deliberately witheld in those cases by city staffs and/or mayors. The budget crises (created by unfunded state mandates) that these resolutions are designed to help address are articulated in both the 4/1 letter and in Chairman Lamb’s guest opinion in the 5/7 Corvallis Gazette Times (copy enclosed). We’re asking you to follow up with your city governments to see if there have been similar "disappearing acts" staged by our official correspondence of 4/1. Ask to see a copy stamped "received" by your city recorder. If they say they never got it, give them a copy and tell us. We’ll make sure they get both resolutions – again.

ORS-195: See Jerry’s report earlier in this letter. As we’ve predicted in the past, the success of Bend in snagging their UGB via ORS-195, coupled with the Measure 50 incentives to annex as much as possible as soon as possible, has spawned several similar actions around the state. As you’ll recall, we’ve been involved in the City of LaGrande’s ORS-195 effort for about a year. We have been advised that Redmond is also considering such a move.

We’ve talked enough about the inequity and unfairness of ORS-195 in the past and it doesn’t need to be repeated here. But one thing we have found out is disturbing, though not surprising: Some of the same people are behind ORS-195 annexation efforts in different cities. There are several "regional governments" in Oregon. One is Metro. Another is the Lane Council Of Governments (LCOG) in Lane County. LCOG helped put together the plan to annex the Springfield UGB in 1992 and Springfield was the first city we know of to consider ORS-195. Our Springfield UGB Chapter successfully fought that plan. Our friends in Bend weren’t so lucky, as you all know.

We recently discovered that LCOG was also involved the Bend annexation plan! And here, we thought all along that Bend was in Deschutes County! ORS-195 annexation schemes all have things in common. They’re put together, largely out of the public eye, by unelected bureaucrats. These unelected bureaucrats have a vested interest (job security) in anything that requires a lot of planning. The public usually doesn’t find out about the plan until it’s completely put together and considered a "done deal" by the powers that be. "Public Hearings", required by the law, are then conducted merely as a formality. Finally, a "combined vote" of the city and the UGB is conducted – and you know what happens as a result (Bend). The result is that those most impacted have no voice in the process.

The motive is simple: It’s The Money! (where have we heard that before??). Oregon’s communities all have budget crises of one kind or another. Measure 50 removed a city’s "tax base" system and replaced it with a "tax rate."

Under the old system, it was more lucrative for a city to wait until the UGB was fully developed so that it would add the maximum amount to the tax roll when annexation occurred. Measure 50 allows the value of property to increase by a maximum of 3% per year. So it now behooves a city to annex as much of its UGB as possible to start realizing that 3% per year. After that occurs, then how is the city to comply with the 20-year land supply law? By extending the UGB? We don’t have the answer – but we do know that the "combined vote" interpretation of ORS-195 is a travesty that is blatantly unfair and needs to be corrected. And we will keep trying to do that.

The Special Sessions Continue: As we write this, the 3rd special session of the Oregon Legislature is underway, trying to revolve an ever-deepening state budget crisis. This is simply a larger version of what’s going on in our communities. The problem is huge, but realistic plans to solve it from the statehouses are few and far between. You can’t do it by soaking the beer drinkers and cigarette smokers! Oregonians will hammer another sales tax proposal. Bill Sizemore will ensure that any income tax hike gets referred, whereby it would almost surely be defeated. This kind of crisis calls for major structural overhaul – NOT the repeal of Measure 5 or other voter mandates, which is now being discussed.

When are we going to get real, folks? We’ve hammered home the point since we were founded in 1996 that we cannot continue to subsidize growth that does not pay for itself! What you’re seeing today is at least in part caused by of out-of-control public subsidies to special interests and corporate entities (e.g., strategic investment initiative funds; property tax deferrals, etc.) and other government giveaways. These giveaways, which are in the $millions, are taking money away from badly need public programs (especially schools) that now state government feels forced to cut. The Legislature MUST look at rescinding some of these subsidies as part of a realistic formula to deal with the state’s budget crisis. Now, and in the future too.

OCVA’s SDC resolution is intended to reach out to the educational community and public safety supporters. It is meant to do so by producing legislation that will allow for recovery by our communities of the costs that growth imposes on these vital services. Our resolution to repeal the 20-year land supply law is meant to address one of the greatest unfunded state mandates imposed on communities. These resolutions won’t solve the PERS crisis (which could become the single biggest drain on the state treasury), but they DO offer a bold new approach to address critical funding problems relating to infrastructure. If Oregon’s lawmakers have any better ideas – REALISTICALLY better ideas – we’re all ears and stand ready to support those efforts. Oregon doesn’t need a 4th "emergency session!"

Fall elections are right around the corner. Now, more than ever before, we have to put the candidates for all state and local offices on the spot and make them commit to SOLUTIONS. Where do they stand on growth subsidies? On SDCs for schools and public safety? On the never-ending effort to remove the "public" from the public process? We need COMMITMENT to something other than "Business As Usual." You can do your part by talking to your city councils and your boards of education: Get them to endorse our resolutions for fairness and equity.

We’ve often said that Oregon is a special place. It follows that this "special place" is worth fighting for – and if you don’t think so, just turn on CNN anytime of the day or night. That’s what we’re working for and that’s what most of you have been working for. We’ve laid our cards on the table.

In Closing: We again, as always, want to sincerely thank those of you who have sent in your annual dues and continue, by doing so each year, to express your faith in OCVA. Our challenges have only grown since 1996, but with your continued help and involvement, we CAN meet them. To those on the mailing list who have NOT sent in their 2002 dues, we would appreciate your doing so ASAP.

We’re outta here. May wisdom and good judgement guide all of us as we face the challenges ahead.


Jeffrey R. Lamb                  Jerry J. Ritter


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