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Land-use planning in Oregon : a no-nonsense handbook in plain English

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  • Oregon has the most extensive land-use planning program of any state in this country. Every acre of privately owned land in this state is zoned. Every acre is subject to a comprehensive plan. Planning affects the cost of your home, the distance you drive to work or shop, your property taxes, your schools, your police. But in spite of the significant effects of land-use planning, many Oregonians don't know much about ii. There are several reasons for this. First, Oregon has a relatively new program. Even those who developed it or who administer it are still learning just how it works. Second, the program is complicated. It combines law, ecology, economics, engineering, and politics. Any one of these fields is difficult to know and understand well. Small wonder, then, that the combination of all five is hard to grasp. Finally, even though "citizen involvement" is the first among Oregon's planning goals, not much has been written to explain Oregon's planning program to its citizens. Most planners and lawyers have been writing for other planners and lawyers. Their jargon-laden prose isn't comprehensible to those who are not in the field of planning. Come to think of it, some of that prose isn't comprehensible to those of us who are! The reasons described above have prompted me to write this book. This is a no-nonsense, plain-English guide to land-use planning in Oregon. It is intended mainly for lay persons-for elected officials, real estate salespersons, developers, planning commissioners, students, permit applicants, and the active, involved citizens that are so important to the program. Because so many lay persons have their first encounter with planning when they apply for some kind of permit, the book pays particular attention to the process of applying for permits. It offers many suggestions on how to make that process as painless as possible. The first chapter provides a brief overview of Oregon's program, that unique combination of state and local planning. The second discusses the permit process that results from that combination. Chapter 3 tells you the "dos" and "don'ts" of getting a permit. The fourth chapter is a glossary of planning terms-a concise encyclopedia with more than 600 entries, from "abate" to "zoning ordinance." The Appendix contains Oregon's statewide planning goals. As you read the book and encounter unfamiliar terms, turn to the glossary for an explanation. The glossary entries define the terms; many of those entries also discuss key concepts and issues and direct you to related subjects. I hope you will find this book to be helpful in understanding a program that so strongly affects us all.
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