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Richardson on the right track

Editorials

It makes sense to speed review of single-family Measure 37 claims

Rep. Dennis Richardson is on the right track with his bill to expedite simple Measure 37 claims involving single homes.

We frequently disagree with the Central Point Republican on policy matters, but this time he's right. The real danger from Measure 37, as we see it, is the potential for large subdivisions sprawling across rural landscapes. Been to the Bay Area lately?

The individual landowner who simply wants to build a home on land held in the family for years, often purchased with exactly that purpose in mind, is the reason many Oregonians voted for Measure 37. Those claims ought to have priority, and ought to move through the claims process as smoothly as possible.

Jackson County has led the way toward that goal, quickly approving two claims for single-family homes.

What's unfortunate is that the Legislature is only now addressing this issue. When voters passed Measure 7 in 2000, that should have been a wakeup call. When the Supreme Court overturned Measure 7 because it made more than one constitutional change in a single measure, lawmakers should have responded to address the very real concerns that prompted its passage.

Two successive Legislatures failed to act. The result was Measure 37, a change much more sweeping than it needed to be.

— Now the Legislature is playing mop-up. Richardson's bill is a start, but much more will be required to make sense of the changes Measure 37 may bring to Oregon.

Signs of change

We're all for reducing the altitude and acreage of commercial signs in Medford, and we applaud the City Council for moving to address the issue. But we're concerned that the proposed changes in sign rules may be too drastic.

Decreasing the maximum height of signs from 9 feet to 6 feet in professional office districts and from 20 feet to 12 feet in commercial zones strikes us as reasonable. Slashing the maximum size of signs from 150 square feet to 20 square feet seems a bit harsh.

As with so many well-intentioned policy changes, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

The Site Plan and Architectural Commission is taking it slow, which is a good thing. The proposed changes will circulate to business owners, sign companies and other groups before a final proposal comes back to the council next summer.

We encourage business owners to review the proposal thoughtfully, and to see this as a chance to help improve the looks of our city, not as a threat to their livelihoods.