Money for Nothing

On December 18 Metro referred a five-year local option levy of 9.6 cents per $1,000 of taxable assessed value to the voters for consideration in the May election. If passed, the measure would raise about $10 million annually for maintenance of 12,400 acres of land Metro bought over the past decade with public tax dollars.

Unfortunately, very few voters will ever get to visit those areas. Most of the large natural areas are far from population centers, such as the 1,200-acre Chehalem Ridge tract near Gaston or the 1,100 acres purchased in the Sandy River Gorge.

More importantly, Metro doesn’t want you there. The agency has announced that if the levy passes, only five to fifteen percent of the funds each year would be used to provide access for the public, such as signage, parking facilities, public rest rooms, or trails. Many of the access points, now gated, would remain closed. This is because Metro’s top priority is restoring natural areas for wildlife, fish, and water quality.

Metro likes to promote the concept of “nature in the neighborhood,” but when it comes to spending our tax dollars to buy up land, neighborhoods will be locked out. The levy should be rejected until these priorities change.

John A. Charles, Jr. is President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Land Use Laws, Metro, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • DavidAppell

    Good — we need areas where humans aren’t. We need more of them. We aren’t the only animals on this planet, but it seems we won’t be satisfied until we are.

  • LibsDeserveDeath

    Sorry David, but Oregon has lots of empty spaces. Just try driving the highway from La Pine to Lakeview sometime to see 100+ miles of vacant land. Oh I forgot – Libs like you never see the other side of the Cascades.

    • DavidAppell

      With your pseudonym, you don’t deserve a response.

    • 3H

      Wouldn’t it be kind of odd for Metro to be buying land on the east side of the Cascades? And, how would that promote watershed protection in this tri-county area?

  • valley person

    The bond measures have been about conservation more than recreation. Believe it or not Mr Charles, many people value conserving places they may or may not ever visit, like the Arctic Wildlife Refuge as just one example. We value these places for habitat, scenery, and watershed protection as well as a chance to visit someday.

  • John Charles

    Yes, people do value places they never intend to visit, and some places are truly special. But in a state that is roughly 97% open space, there was never a “need” for the Metro land purchase program. Most of those lands were not remotely threatened by development. And buying so much land far outside the UGB is a case of mission creep by a regional government that is supposed to serve the actual needs of people living inside the UGB, where decent-sized private backyards have now been regulated out of existence for new homes.

    As to the proposed levy itself, nowhere in the staff report to the Metro council was there an actual budget. The $10 million annual revenue figure was just pulled out of thin air. That’s not a professional way to approach the public about another tax.

    • valley person

      Metro published the list of areas it was going to buy in before the public voted, so whatever you may think about the wisdom of what and where they bought, and I agree some areas are farther out than I would like, the public voted aye and gave them the money knowing what and where they were buying.

    • DavidAppell

      Oregon has a wide range of ecosystems; open space anywhere is not the same as open space for a specific habitat.

  • guest

    Shrink Metro to within the areas having voted for inclusion, viz Multnomah and Washington counties. Clackamas did NOT buy into the 1978 chicanery creating the dubiously accepted certainly superfluous (extra layer) of government creep-ation.

    Currently, Metro’s ‘governmentium’ fiscal budget is reported in Wikipedia as $389 million. Please, take a look.
    Ho ho ho, Merry Metro Clause!

    xo, – 750 currently employed PERSons of interest

    P.S. Then there’$ full throttle TriMet. Lo, google the Cascade Policy Institute blog attending TriMet Salary Database.

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