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I think it's a great idea, but I would imagine that property owners who want to sell and the developers who want to develop might not like it. The owners may claim that the compensation isn't enough, especially for those who have inflated ideas about how much their land is worth. The developers won't like it for obvious reasons.

But, the point is, it's an idea that is useful and might just have some legs on it. Are there any other states in the country that practice something similar?

Willamette John

Yes, I've been saying this for awhile. It makes as much sense as Measure 37 does...by appealing to the same argument.

Once folks understand this "other side of the coin" I'd hope the whole compensation (both ways) would go away.

However, I guess one gets dinged in taxes when one's property value goes up anyway...


Some counties are doing something a bit similar: they're charging back property taxes based on the assessed value that is now perceived to have been recaptured by the waiver under M37. So if you tell the county your land would be worth a million, they'll agree with you and start taxing you at a million.

I hadn't heard about the idea of a claims denial slush fund though. Not a bad mix of the two concepts!


I should be clearer; they reassess all the way back to when the 'devaluing' change was made, and collect on that.


I thought Oregon property tax law limits the amount of increase you can tax property when its value increases. I love the idea, but it sounds like we'd have to dump the old law. Which would be great.


Idealogically speaking. This should have never come up. It removes rights from the individual for something that they buy/own. Something that in no way should be manipulated (ideally) by some socialist system unless the person ventures to harm others by the land use.

Then of course there is the problem that Portland has ever increasing house values that these so called liveable communities are only available to the upper income earners of society.

Not a problem from my perspective. But I do fell rather depressed by the idea of the complete raping of property rights and freedom of property use.

But I guess stepping on the poor, kicking them out (effectively), and creating liveable communities for the affluent is all worth it. I think.

I'll see when I'm out trying to buy a house soon, how much I really do agree with this economic & invidual rights manipulation by the Government.

Brian Newman

This basic concept is being developed into an actual proposal at Metro. My colleague, Metro Councilor Robert Liberty, has been working on a plan to capture a portion of the "windfall profits" on land brought within the UGB to pay for infrastructure in the expansion areas and farmland conservation easements outside the UGB. The conservation easements could be targetted to farmland with M37 claims. A committee has just released a report on the concept and Councilor Liberty would like to refer the proposal to voters in early 2007. For more information, contact him at:


I'd love to see this happen too, and in fact my former boss, State Rep. Mary Nolan, proposed this during the 2005 session. Unfortuantely, the antitax folks screamed it was a "new tax" and so wouldn't vote for it. Yet, I think it is the only reasonable solution I've heard anyone come up with to solve the problem that we don't have enough $ to pay these claims right now and some things people want to do with their land is so undesirable we have to find a way to pay them.


I think there's a fairly extensive literature on this approach. It's generally referred to as "wipeouts for windfalls."

Dan Meek

John Wallace's op-ed is brilliant but in a diabolical, counter-intuitive way.

He says that, to compensate owners for land use restrictions on their property, the government should impose a new tax on the increase in the value of other property that the restrictions produce.

This would amount to a double bonus for the owner of the restricted property. Consider Jack, who owns property that is restricted from development, as it is just outside the urban growth boundary. He gets to live in peaceful, natural setting on his protected land. And he gets paid by the government for keeping his land undeveloped!

Where is the land that gets taxed for the increase in value caused by the restriction on Joe's land? Mr. Wallace says that "changes in zoning or regulation more often boost property values in cities and lower them in the country." So city-dweller Jill has to pay an additional tax on her land, because it is now more valuable, even though Jill lives in a city made more crowded by the urban growth boundary.

Jack gets the peaceful setting and gets money from the government. Jill gets more crowding and has to pay more money to the government. Great idea! At least for Jack.


Wallace's proposal will be creating a "class of citizen" that is contrary to Oregon's Constitution. I sure hope all the constitutionalist liberals like me make this point like we did in arguments to abolish M37 at the Oregon Supreme Court.

I sure hope the City of Portland also goes after all the rightful increases in property taxes in North Macadam that Homer Williams, etc. recieved by the recent rezoning of the NM URD. By increasing density by six times and heights from 35-75ft to 325ft. the city will have enough new property taxes to solve everything-if Wallace's idea passes.


For this to work, you would need to heavily tax the transaction (sale of the property), not the value of the property itself.

If city planning makes someone’s land valuable, the city should have a right to tax the profits of the sale heavily. However, if there is no sale, there would be no additional taxes. This approach would discourage excessive development without penalizing ordinary citizens.

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