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Measure 37: Are Planners to Blame?

Leonard Gilroy
July 13, 2005, 2:44pm

Another recent article from former Portland METRO director Richard Carson (see my previous post), this time opining on Oregon's Measure 37, the initiative passed in 2004 that requires local governments to pay landowners if land use restrictions reduce the value of land, or waive the restrictions: Read the whole thing. As a planner, it is so refreshing to hear a voice like Carson's because there are so few of them in the planning community-at-large. In 2003, columnist Charles Krauthammer famously identified a psychiatric disorder -- Bush Derangement Syndrome -- that currently afflicts so many on the left. He defined it as "the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency -- nay -- the very existence of George W. Bush." From my experience in planning, I'd have to say that there's a more subtle, but nonetheless pervasive, affliction among planners probably best termed Sprawl Derangement Syndrome. Having spent several years in SDS recovery, I think that I can offer a good stab at a definition: the acute onset of revulsion against current development patterns (and those that voluntarily choose them or otherwise perpetuate them), combined with delusions of grandeur that give one the false and hubristic impression that no policy proposal is too restrictive or damaging as a means to change said patterns. The Smart Growth movement is the logical outgrowth of SDS and also the dominant vehicle for mass SDS transmission into the future. Carson has a knack for tapping into the 'delusional planner' mentality, probably because he's worked in the field for so long at such high levels that he's seen it in all its varied forms. I'd highly recommend a read through his essays here for more insights along these lines.

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform

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