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Oregon's Comprehensive Growth Management Program: An Implementation Review and Lessons for Other States

June 1992

Citation: 22 ELR 10367

Issue: 6

Author: Robert L. Liberty

Editors' Summary: 1993 will mark the 20th anniversary of Oregon's experiment in managing growth and land use through a statewide planning program. As a pioneering effort, Oregon's program has evolved and weathered implementation battles in court, as well as repeal initiatives at the ballot box. Yet, the original proponents of Oregon's program knew that wresting control over local land use decisions from local governments in order to achieve statewide growth management policies would not be easy. The author strongly believes that a new balance must be struck between conservation and development, which will require a political shift of power from local to state governments. Today, more states are contemplating their own statewide growth and land use programs, as the collision between growing populations and diminishing natural resources reveals the shortcomings of local growth controls. This Article explores Oregon's growth management program, its implementation, and the frustrations, successes, and experiences learned along the way. The Article begins with an overview of the program's legal and administrative structure, with emphasis on the process by which Oregon's local governments and state agencies implement state land use policies. Next, the Article reviews these policies and Oregon's performance in achieving policy objectives. Finally, the Article recommends how interested states might improve on Oregon's growth management model.

Mr. Liberty is a Portland attorney specializing in Oregon land use law. He has argued many cases before the Oregon appellate courts and Land Use Board of Appeals, including precedent-setting cases interpreting the statewide planning Goals relating to urbanization, the preservation of farm land, the conservation of forest land, and coordinating state agencies' activities with the state planning program. He has been a speaker and consultant across the United States and overseas on the subject of growth management programs. For nine years he was a staff attorney for 1000 Friends of Oregon, a nonprofit land use advocacy organization. The author would like to thank the many people who helped him with this Article, including Darr Durham, Peter Frost, Ruth Froust, Kevin Kasowski, Paul Ketcham, Tony Lawrence, Kim Marsh, Terry Moore, Henry Richmond, Mitch Rohse, Ethan Seltzer, Scott Siegel, and Dave Wallenberg.

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