'I call (regulations) land stealing ...'


Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story, "Taking Liberties."

During the campaign pitching Oregon’s Measure 37 to voters in 2004, Dorothy English starred in statewide radio ads. Now a 93-year-old widow living on 20 acres on a hillside overlooking Portland, she has been fighting for three decades for permission to slice off a few home sites, including one for her grandson. She’s owned the land since 1953, but the statewide planning system launched in the 1970s, and the Multnomah County planners, have blocked her. Once Measure 37 passed, she filed the first claim, seeking to subdivide her land. Ironically, she’s still battling. The county waived the subdivision regulations, but it wants her to submit detailed plans for how she would deal with sloped ground, fire dangers, and road-building issues. In May, she sued the county for $1.15 million, charging that the county is unfairly stalling. A pro-planning environmentalist says, off the record, "The county should just figure out a way for the woman to get her damn (new) house. It’s just a few acres, get over it! This is a pretty squeaky wheel!"

Dorothy English: "I’m so damn mad, and tired of fighting for what is right. I want my land to be mine, to do with whatever I want. I don’t think that’s outrageous, do you? … When I started out (hoping to subdivide), I had a selfish reason. Then I found out, I could help other people that were in the same fix as I am and didn’t know what the hell to do. People finally woke up to what was going on (with land-use laws). Their land was being stolen from them. That’s what I call it, ‘land-stealing.’ That’s why we got 61 percent (voting for Measure 37). … My lawyer researched it and found there were 61 regulations against my property — 61! I want to tell everybody the unfairness of this. My God, it took us (she and her late husband) so long, of scrimping and saving and working, to pay for this place. And then to let somebody steal it? … I am not going to be a sweet 93-year-old lady, because I am sick and tired of waiting. When I get a chance to unload, I take it, trust me."


Anonymous says:
Aug 07, 2006 11:24 AM

I am really mad too, except with me its my neighbors trying to steal my land. I bought land in febuary of 2005 ,165 acres the zone allowed gravel pits and quarries,went in for a permit on 111 acres,have gone through all steps including recieving planning board approval because we met all ordinance requirements,nieghbors fought me all the way,now they are petitioning the public by lying and changing trying to change the ordinance and making it retroactive to jan 2005, the new ordinance will if adopted by public vote effectively shut me down, they changed things like instead of 100 foot setbacks to 1000 foot setbacks,my land is 1800 feet wide and 2600 feet deep that alone shuts me down and all kinds of other things,they designed there new ordinance around my submitted plan but tell people it was not designed to stop me, they told people it wouldn't effect existing operations, it will when they expand,they did not tell people it was retroacitve.I have spent 1.8 million of borrowed money to buy the land and approximately 125000.00 on approvals and lawyers and peer reviews.(peer reviews were recommended by the group to the planning board ) now they say peer reviews are not good enough because they came back and concurred with my engineers findings.How do you deal with liers.I could go on and on.I hope the public sees through there charade for what it is. victim of land theft. Peter Busque

Anonymous says:
Sep 04, 2006 10:39 AM

Land use planning regulations are the salvation from the eternal growth machine. Speak to the Native American's if you want to understand land theft. The land that people own, as well as the water, soil and air that isn't owned, transcides individual lives and ownership. We are now a nation of 300 million, and increasing daily, with multiple environmental issues that are silently creeping up on us. I have heard similiar arguments--cusing regulations-- from individuals who purchased property adjacent to rivers who assumed they had the right to build in the riparian zones and pollute the rivers. Ever increasing human numbers--unfortuntely--demands ever increasing regulatory tyranny, in order to save us from ourselves and the abyss of a polluted earth.