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Vote goes against property rights initiatives

An attempt to revive a failed property rights initiative through two ballot measures appears to have failed by a wide margin in election results posted late Tuesday night.

Ballot Measure 15-110, which would have forced Jackson County to defy the state against any future land-use regulations that reduce the value of properties, was losing, with 16,639 votes against and 11,135 in support, or 60 percent to 40 percent.

Ballot Measure 15-111, which would have required the county to protect property rights established under 2004 Measure 37, also was losing by about the same margin, with 17,185 voting against and 10,695 in support, or 62 percent to 38 percent of the vote.

"That sounds like a complete surprise," said Jerry McCauley, chief petitioner for the ballot measures. "It sounds like just the reverse."

McCauley, who is involved with Americans for Prosperity of Jackson County, said a survey conducted before the voting showed about 60 percent of voters approved of the ballot measures.

More than 60 percent of voters in Jackson County approved of Measure 37, the property rights law passed in 2004 that provided a mechanism to waive land-use laws that resulted in a loss in land value.

Measure 37 was overturned when Oregon voters approved Measure 49 in 2007.

However, Jackson County voters rejected Measure 49 by a wide margin.

Jackson County commissioners initially supported Measure 37, encouraging residents to file waivers.

The state calculates 578 waivers were approved here, totaling in excess of $500 million in potential claims.

Frustration from many landowners over Measure 37's defeat gave rise to the two new ballot measures.

Many voters appeared uncertain about the two measures.

In Measure 15-110, 3,809 people didn't cast any vote.

This represents 12 percent of the 31,583 votes cast in the second round of results.

For Measure 15-111, 3,703 people didn't cast a vote, or 11.7 percent of the 31,583 total votes.

McCauley said he expected a similar showing of support for the two ballot measures as was received under Measure 37.

McCauley said he senses that most voters in Jackson County understand that the state has been attempting to strip Measure 37 claimants of their rights.

"It's wrong what they are doing," he said. "The majority of the voters know that."

McCauley said the low turnout could explain the voter rejection of the measures.

"If the majority of voters get off their tails, we'd get a more precise indication," he said.

In the future, McCauley didn't discount the possibility that another set of measures could be placed before voters.

Jackson County Commissioner Don Skundrick, who has voiced his opposition to the two ballot measures, said, "I'm thrilled they're going down."

Skundrick said he thinks voters realized the measures would only cause aggravation for the county despite the groundswell of support for Measure 37 in 2004.

"Let's give the voters some credit," he said. "I think the voters are showing some sense."

A supporter of the principals of Measure 37, Skundrick said that if the two measures were passed they would end up costing the county in legal fees.

"They were poorly written and they weren't going to go anywhere," he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or email dmann@mailtribune.com.