March 9, 2011

Oregon proposal would mandate attorney fees in land use cases

By Oregon proposal would mandate attorney fees in land use cases

Author: Daniel Himebaugh

Legislators in Oregon have proposed a new bill that would require the state Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) and Court of Appeals to award attorney fees to land use applicants who prevail in appealing a government land use decision.  Currently, such awards are discretionary and depend on factors like whether the losing party brought a frivolous appeal.

The Cascade Policy Institute writes that public testimony on the bill emphasized the huge costs incurred by Oregonians who are affected by property restrictions under Oregon's land use laws.  We have elsewhere noted that these costs came to light when Oregon enacted Measure 37, which allowed property owners who suffered a reduction in property value as a result of government regulation to make formal claims for compensation.  For the short time that Measure 37 was in effect, there were almost 7,000 claims requesting a total of almost $20 billion.

Clearly, Oregon is still grappling with the heavy costs that its land use system and the LUBA process impose on property owners.  This bill is one to watch.

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