In the February, off-year session of the Oregon Legislature, one Senate Bill has caught the land use community’s attention: SB 1502, sponsored by the Senate President Peter Courtney and Hansell.

This bill is a stinker. The text would eliminate all laws and regulations on all lands (outside the urban growth boundary) in Oregon counties with less than50,000 people. Environmental, land use zoning/permitted uses, water law, etc. I wrote the letter below in response. Please copy and paste to your state senator.

Senate President Courtney,

I am writing from Grand Island, Oregon, just across the Willamette River from your district (I am in Senator Boquist’s district 12). My wife and I have farmed certified organic vegetables and tree fruits for 12 years here. I also begin law school at Willamette in August.

Please reconsider your sponsorship of SB 1502. As a farmer, environmental scientist and a landowner adjacent to gravel quarries, I know firsthand the impacts of non-agricultural uses adjacent to commercial and economically-valuable farming. They are not compatible. And land use laws are in place to protect and support our Number One agricultural product, cattle.

Eastern Oregon needs Salem’s help and attention. But Salem can do this in constructive, positive actions, rather with than regressive, reactive measures. We can provide funding for and construct mobile USDA slaughterhouses like many Washington counties have. We can provide the funding (matching or otherwise) for improved internet access. We can build a new airport, in that is needed. But to take away protections from land is like taking money from the principal of an investment, rather than the interest the investment accrues.

I am happy to discuss this more in person. I know your schedule is rapidly filling up, but I am happy to chat with one of your many wonderful legislative staffers.

Thank you for your time!

Casey Kulla
farmer, Grand Island, Oregon
Oakhill Organics and Walnut Rise