As state land-use law celebrates its 40th birthday, the closest thing to a consensus in Oregon’s business community — which encompasses enough industries to represent a spectrum of supporters and detractors — may be that there’s a better system in place today precisely because of the challenges and changes that have occurred, be it at the ballot box, in the legislature or in the marketplace. The journey of Oregon’s land-use system is the search for a happy medium: between planning goals and market realities, between state-dictated outcomes and local jurisdictions’ desires, between smart transit-oriented growth in the Willamette Valley and reversing the decline of small rural enclaves. If land-use law forces unwanted change upon those living along growth boundaries, it also creates options.
Back at Cooper Mountain Vineyards, Robert Gross may lament that within a
decade the company’s namesake vineyard will likely give way to a subdivision. But the winery has already purchased new land on the north edge of nearby Chehalem Mountain, one that might yield better pinots than before. “It’s a terrific site,” he says, “and we’re already looking for more.”