Thursday, January 29, 2009

Urgent: Don't let the "Big Look" turn into the Big Grab

In some ways, you have to hand it to the pro-sprawl lobby --- they are absolutely relentless, and never quit working to undermine the land-use laws that have, despite their efforts, preserved much of the farm and forest land that makes Oregon a hopeful beacon for the years to come.

If the pro-sprawl lobby has its way, we will abolish the statewide land-use planning system and return it to the control of the local county commissioners --- an unmitigated disaster for wise land use and for farmland preservation.

If you can't come testify to how much you value Oregon's land use and preservation of farm and forest land, please see the note below about how you can make sure your voice is heard. This is a battle that has to be won each and every time the sprawlers muster for another charge; if we lose, we lose forever as some of the finest land in the world is paved and cut over.
Join us next Tuesday, February 3rd at 3:00 pm in Salem when the House Land Use Committee will hold a public hearing on the Big Look Task Force proposed legislation (HB 2229).

The task force has made several proposed changes to Oregon's land use planning program. Some changes we support, including a plan to have key state agencies develop an integrated strategic plan to coordinate land use, transportation and economic development efforts.

Unfortunately, the task force has focused much of their effort on a controversial proposal to allow counties to develop new criteria to redefine farm and forest lands. This proposal, not supported by any data from the task force, is based on the perception that unproductive lands have been mis-designated by counties, and that counties are prevented from correcting these errors. Counties can, and do, re-designate land from agricultural or forest to other categories. In fact, counties re-designated over 20,000 acres from agriculture to other rural uses between 1989 and 2007. If land is mis-zoned, counties should correct the zoning error, not come up with new definitions for farm and forest land.

Simply put, this Task Force proposal will lead to rural sprawl, increase global warming pollution from cars and trucks, and impact Oregon agriculture at a time when our economy is already in danger.

The Task Force report acknowledges that Oregon has a land use system that protects farm and forest land, contains urban sprawl, and manages growth better than anywhere else in the United States. The system can and should be improved, but it makes no sense to adopt proposals to weaken land use planning in Oregon.

Now is the time to tell the House Land Use Committee to support the task force proposals to adopt better strategic plans and new performance measures and to oppose allowing counties to re-define farm and forest land. Please come to Salem to testify in support of a stronger, more effective land use program for Oregon!

Time: 3:00 - 4:00 pm
Place: State Capitol, Hearing Room E, Salem
Date: February 3rd
Contact: Cheyenne Ross, Committee Administrator: 503-986-1734
Details: Arrive early and sign up to testify. For more information on the task force, please click here.
Don't forget: Please reply to this email and let us know if you are coming.

Thank you for all you do!


The Team at 1000 Friends of Oregon.

P.S. If you can't attend the hearing, please write a quick note to the committee on the importance of this issue. Send it to: Cheyenne Ross - Committee Services, 900 Court St. NE. Rm. #453, Salem OR 97301. Give your perspective on why our land use program needs to be strengthened!

Got nine minutes for a great film? Eat the Suburbs!

Very nice.

Want to be on the Citizen Patrol?

Interesting offer from the Salem Police Dept. If you want to make a contribution, get to know your city better, and maybe get some regular exercise, consider:

The Salem Police Department is recruiting volunteers to be a part of the Citizen Patrol. Volunteers in this position work in teams of two during various times of the day and night. They focus on areas experiencing high rates of crime, serving as extra eyes and ears for patrol officers. Citizen Patrol teams provide a presence in neighborhoods throughout Salem and report suspicious activity as needed.

Citizen Patrol volunteers will be required to complete a 30-hour training course prior to [before] their first scheduled shift in order to better equip and educate them for this assignment; volunteers also are expected to attend ongoing training.

The next series of training is set to begin in July. To learn more about this position or any of the other areas where volunteers serve the Salem Police Department, visit or call Jennifer Graber at 503-588-6499, ext. 1.

[Actually, the link given goes nowhere. You probably want to go here if you actually want to connect with SPD. Here's the SPD volunteer page.]

Have your say on Salem budget -- it's bloody, and going to get bloodier

(from the February 2009 "Community Connections" newsletter)


The City of Salem is facing an estimated $5 million in General Fund budget reductions for this coming fiscal year, beginning July 1, 2009. Despite layoffs, a hiring freeze, and last year’s service cuts, the City cannot continue to provide all current services with anticipated revenues.

Be a part of the solution! Join us in conversation:

• Monday, February 16, at 7:00 p.m., West Salem Roth’s

• Wednesday, February 18, at 6:00 p.m., North Salem High School Auditorium

• Saturday, February 21, at 10:00 a.m., South Salem High School Library

• Tuesday, February 24, at 6:00 p.m., McKay High School Commons (Spanish-speaking forum)

• Complete the survey on funding priorities any time at

The City is asking for your help as we consider service reductions. To be a part of the solution, tell us what you think before February 25. Take the funding priorities survey online today.

Where Salem must go

This is what we must do.

The only question is whether elected and staff officials in city and county governments (and the various flavors of intergovernmental groupings) will be leaders, bystanders ... or, worse, obstacles to progress. So far, prospects look dim for enlightened leadership -- if it's present in governments so far, it's remaining covert, possibly a wise strategy to avoid the immune system rejection of new ideas.

But we need to start, wherever these officials land. There is much work to do, little time, and resources will be increasingly strained.

As one of my advisors used to say, "Uh-oh, out of money! Time to think!!"