restricted access Series Editor's Preface

From: Oregon Plans

Oregon State University Press colophon
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9 Series Editor’s Preface In January 1971, on the eve of his second term as governor of Oregon, Tom McCall responded to an interviewer’s question with an iconic quotation that proclaimed Oregon’s distinctive take on population growth and defending the state’s livability. Almost rhetorically, the national television interviewer asked: “What could be done about population growth?” McCall forcefully answered: “Come visit us again and again. This is a state of excitement. But for heaven’s sake, don’t come here to live.” McCall seemed to post a sign at the stateline, declaring that growth had become an endangered species in Oregon. What he wanted was not an end to growth, but a smarter growth that preserved Oregon’s quality of life. Still, many commentators chastised him, questioning whether he believed in the “visit but don’t stay” motto. McCall assured them that he did, telling all who would listen that everyone who comes to Oregon must “play the game by our environmental rules, and be members of the Oregon family.” That was Oregon’s marker on the future. In a series of laws enacted in the early 1970s, the state embraced regulations that prized livability as the ultimate goal and maintaining “the sanctity of the environment” as a constant guide. Burgeoning public opinion supported the idea, especially the protection of farm and forest lands from the “grasping wastrels of the land,” as McCall characterized the developers of residential sprawl and recreational properties. Passage of Senate Bill 100 in 1973 and the consistent refinement and defense of the state’s progressive land-use planning system ever since has impressed the nation. Oregon’s success has prompted many to ask how it accomplished what so many states had quailed to even contemplate. Were Oregonians so much different than everyone else who worried about growth? Did they know something unique? Was there something in the rain that fell on a greening Oregon? Oregon’s system appeared to work, and more, its creation seemed almost unbelievable, if not a bit mysterious. 10 Series Editor’s Preface In Oregon Plans, Sy Adler demystifies the story. It is a complex story, with sufficient twists and turns, surprising bedfellows, and strong personalities to produce a gripping melodrama. Adler offers the first thorough investigative account of how environmentalists, including professional planners, lawyers, and legislators, teamed up with farmers and business people to hammer out the system. Reading Adler’s account, it is clear that there was little foregone about the process and even less in the results. There was no mysterious and deterministic key to the pattern of events and their outcomes. In fact, readers will be struck by a fragility that pervades the episodes Adler explains in intimate detail. If there is an exceptionalism buried in the story, it is likely inherent in the people who built the system, fine-tuned its workings, and defended it against determined foes. At its heart, the drama Adler lays out in Oregon Plans is about a community wrestling with two inherently democratic challenges: how can the public’s interest in land use temper the prerogatives of private property owners, and how can people insure that their use of the environment ensures a viable future for themselves and the nature they need for survival? These questions are at the center of what books in the Culture & Environment in the Pacific West series are meant to address. In Oregon Plans, the focus is on public policy and political decisions about highly contested issues. It is a story about political culture and environmental goals, and it is also about specific people who chose not to avoid the contests. The story has heroes, but many are unlikely allies, such as Hector S. Macpherson, Republican farmer-legislator from Albany, and Democrat Ted Hallock, a liberal legislator from Portland. The two men agreed on a strategy that matched local participation with state-based planning to find a workable mix of land-use restrictions and controlled development that Oregonians could willingly adopt. It meant establishing potentially cumbersome regulatory structures, such as the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC), and it also stimulated opposition that reared its head in every legislative session since 1973. In Adler’s storyline, though, other people come forward to defend the plan, such as Henry Richmond, creator of the 1000 Friends of Oregon. Add other players, such as L. B. Day, the strong-willed director of LCDC, and Fred VanNatta of the Oregon Home Builders Association, and it quickly...


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Subject Headings

  • Zoning law -- Oregon.
  • Land use -- Law and legislation -- Oregon.
  • Land subdivision -- Law and legislation -- Oregon.
  • City planning and redevelopment law -- Oregon.
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