Now that the Oregon Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling that found the Measure 37 property development law unconstitutional, Oregonians need to figure out a way to pay for the high cost of development outside of urban growth boundaries around the state. Traditionally when developments are built, taxpayers are responsible for most of the short and long term costs. These costs include but are not limited to: new roads, sewer and water systems, emergency services and schools. Developers kick in a small percentage of the short term costs, a.k.a "impact fees", when the development is approved for building. As Happy Valley residents are quickly learning (pdf), those "impact fees" are not enough to cover the costs of running a community, even within an incorporated area where efficiencies are already available through existing infrastructure.
So how will we pay for M37 development? This is what I propose: Property owners and developers who want to build subdivisions and the like outside of urban growth boundaries, and therefore away from established infrastructure, should pay for 100% of the cost of roads to and from the developments, the upgrading of existing roads near the developments, sewers and/or septic tank impacts, public water lines that may be required due to the likelihood of low water tables in rural areas, impact to the local school district (a formula could be established that would calculate the cost each new house would have on nearby schools), a percentage of the future costs to upgrade the rural freeway interchanges that feed into these new developments (the cost could be calculated based on the number of homes in new developments that are dependent on particular freeway entrances and exits) and any other required services such as electrical lines.
Oregon taxpayers should not be responsible for paying a single penny of any development costs outside their cities' urban growth boundaries. If property rights activists believe that property owners can do whatever they want with their property or be compensated by the government for not being able to develop, then those owners should pay for the cost of their development in full, thank you very much.
After witnessing miles of public water lines being put in, roads upgraded, trailer buildings being added to the local overflowing school, a freeway interchange upgrade that cost close to 75 million, etc. all in the name of several big rural subdivisions near my mom's farm in Clark County, Washington, I was appalled to learn that the state and county taxpayers were paying for most of it. The feds kicked in a few mil for the interchange upgrade since it was on I-5. The landowners and developers walked away with hundreds of millions. The minimal impact fees that they had to pay were simply passed on to the new home buyers.
So, are the anti-tax activists with me on this? Oh, I forgot, they're some of M37's biggest supporters. They want their bread and they want it buttered too.