Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bad Precedent Rising: Still time to speak out

Copy of Survey that certifies the town of Beav...This is an old Oregon plat map. One of the very first and most important acts of government in North America has been platting land and defending those boundaries. Image by Beaverton Historical Society via Flickr

Sometimes it seems that there's simply no idea so bad that some body of elected officials won't embrace it heartily, despite its gross defects.

Take rewarding people who poach public park land, for instance. One of the first and oldest principles in law is that you cannot obtain title to government land by adverse possession. This reflects a deep and historically unbroken recognition that public land is a special form of public trust. That is, it's not just that the land is valuable, the way cash is valuable. It's more that public lands are irreplaceable, and public officials are simply trustees for that land for the rest of us, caretakers in other words; it is not theirs to give away to their friends, campaign contributors, or even sympathetic but careless homeowners who encroach on it.

The Marion County Commissioners appear determined to make the worst caricatures of politicians come to life as they, against all reason and advice, try to create a terrible precedent by giving away something that is not theirs to give, stealing it from the rest of us and violating their oaths of office to do so:
Problems arise when squatters claim public land. Squatting is like stealing because it is taking possession of something that doesn’t belong to you.

In spite of that basic truth, Marion County Commissioners are considering giving public land to property owners who have no claim to it.

The hearing on this case is called: PLA/FP/Greenway Case No. 09-017

And it is taking place Wednesday, August 19 (tomorrow), at 4PM, at the County Building; 555 Court Street, Main Floor.

Here’s the background:

Property owners bought property next to Spong’s Landing (a county park) and fenced off some of the park land.

In May 2008, Marion County Public Works wrote to the property owners ordering them to remove the sections of their fence that enclosed a part the park. The property owners appealed and asked the County to give them title to the enclosed park land.

This required a hearing where NO ONE testified in favor of yielding the park land. In spite of the public outcry, the commissioners voted to sell the land to the property owners for $5000.

Concerned citizens put up the money and filed an appeal with the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA). LUBA agreed with the citizens and told the commissioners to find another solution.

Now the commissioners are simply redrawing the Spong’s Landing property line and giving the park land to the property owners.

Giving park land away like this is extremely unusual. There are no provisions for it in the Comprehensive Plan and the Marion County Parks Commission objects to it. It doesn’t serve the public interest, and it ignores the unanimous will of the people.

The Commissioners could have followed the rules and supported staff’s legal notice ordering the property owners to vacate the park land. Instead they have let the matter drag on for several months and consume thousands of dollars of public funds.

The Commissioners should stick to the rules.

Please attend or testify that the property line adjustment be DENIED.

Testifying is one way you can claim standing if there needs to be another appeal.

For more information contact: Aileen Kaye, 503-743-4567
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1 comment:

Aileen said...

Thank you so much for getting the info out on this situation. We are not giving up.