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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 18, 2008 2:54 PM. The previous post in this blog was What you don't have the right to know about the bailout. The next post in this blog is October in Oregon. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

The last two

We wrap up our horseback survey of the 12 Oregon ballot measures today with two that aren't hard to understand or to decide on: Measure 55, relating to redistricting (reapportionment) of state legislative offices; and Measure 63, dealing with building permits.

Measure 55 is a wonky housekeeping measure. It provides that when the lines of state Senate and House districts are redrawn every 10 years to keep their population even, the changes don't take effect until the next year. This makes the system far more orderly than what the rules currently provide. Under current law, the changes can take effect right in the middle of a legislator's term, and if under the new district lines there are two representatives from the same district, one of them gets reassigned -- to a district elsewhere in the state that would otherwise be left with no representative due to the musical chairs. This is how somebody in Eugene winds up representing central Oregon, at least for a year or two.

The next redistricting is due in 2011. Under this plan (and it would apply for all future rounds of redistricting), whatever new lines they come up won't take effect until 2013. Whoever's in office in 2011 will serve out their terms (through the end of 2012) under the old boundaries. The 2012 election will be the first under the new lines. Sounds good to me, and there's no organized, or even disorganized but vocal, opposition. Sure, there's more that could be done to make Oregon's redistricting process better, but this proposal seems beneficial enough. Gimme the pencil; I'm voting yes.

Measure 63 is at the opposite end of the spectrum from wonky. It's as blunt as you can get: No building permits required for home or farm improvements of less than $35,000. Get government off our backs, blah blah blah. Sorry, righties. Building permits and inspections are essential, and while there ought to be a minimal value below which they aren't required, $35,000 is way too high a threshold. For $35,000, your neighbor could create quite a mess, putting lots of innocent folks at risk and wrecking property values well beyond the metes and bounds of his own lot.

There's always some nutty stuff on the Oregon ballot, but this is one of the wilder ones to appear in quite some time. I wouldn't even think twice about it. No on 63 is the only sane way to go.

That's it for the state ballot measures. I'm going with a yes vote on 54 and 55 (housekeeping), 57 (milder of the two tough-on-crime measures), and 59 (full Oregon tax deduction for federal taxes paid). On all of the other eight, I'm voting nay.

For convenience, here is our coverage of the various measures: 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65. (Just click on each number to go to our summary.)

As the ballots hit the mailbox, we here in the Portland area have some additional measures to brood about, mostly (I think) having to do with money. Time is a-wastin', and we plan to get on top of those over the next few days.

Comments (7)

Thanks Jack, very helpful.

Your intuition on Measure 63 is sound, but if you have ever had work "inspected" by a city of Portland inspector you might wonder exactly what value they are adding. For example, we had some light remodeling done - some kitchen and bathroom stuff - so some plumbing and some electrical, plus some new natural gas lines for a gas stove top, some new venting. The inspection consisted of turning on any new faucet, and flushing any new toilet; the electrical inspection consisted of turning on the new appliance. That's it. The proposed measure is probably a bit blunt, but some changes are probably called for, and could be implemented at the city/administrative level. What about waiving certain types of inspections in the event licensed contractors are performing the work?

Even licensed contractors will be tempted to cut corners without inspections. Too risky.

Years ago as renters, inspectors were all that stood between us and a hazardous electrical system. The landlord didn't think there was a problem. The first inspector advised us to invest in additional smoke alarms and told him to get the work done immediately. The second one caught several problems in the work performed by a licensed shop, including putting non-standard screws on a box that needed inspection to keep anyone from looking inside.

15 or 20 would be better but I'm for it. Heights and setbacks aren't affected in this law - the guy next door isn't all of a sudden going to add a story and build out to the property line, unless he legally can anyway.

I'd assert a great likelihood that what individuals are going to do with this isn't going to add much to the already tremendous effect that perfectly legal and permitted building and remodeling can have on the adjacent property owners. And as things stand the kind of stuff that requires a permit can be much too minor - porches, stairs, etc.

Forgetting for a moment the "neighboring property values" hangup, it might also be expected that this bill would allow handy people who are capable of doing a lot of their own work access to home ownership in the form of fixers they otherwise might not be able to afford. (And which they're legally required to insure anyway) Me, I've always lived in wrecks, and I'd love to buy one cheap and make it livable for myself without having to do every little meticulous thing required for new construction (location of outlets, stair dimensions, etc)

"Sorry, righties."

Sorry Jack.....right or left has nothing to do with this one...

I lean right but this is a bad idea. Just what we need is everyone rewiring their house...and selling to unsuspecting buyers...

Since I hope to be in that category someday, I'll vote no on this one.....

Our brand new house had natural gas leaking under the stove top, and slow water leaks from both shower heads.

There was another water leak under the dishwasher, and within the first five years we had two leaks from copper pipes (in the wall). They also

I watched them build the house next door, and most of the subs were not licensed or bonded. Very crappy craftsmanship all around: it's on the market for over $600k.


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