Bob Stacy, Who Fought The Rajneshee Cult Over Oregon’s Land Use, Dies At 72!

Bob Stacey, a prominent opponent of suburban sprawl in Oregon who took on developers of strip malls and the Rajneeshees in court, passed away on September 8. He was 72.

Thursday night, U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer expressed his sorrow over Stacey’s passing, saying, “Oregon just lost the most significant person that most people have never heard of.”

Stacey, who attended Parkrose High School, Reed College, and the University of Oregon Law School, was one of the first two individuals hired in 1975 to lead 1000 Friends of Oregon, the land-use advocacy organization founded by former governor Tom McCall.

That group engaged in a protracted legal struggle to defend a novel policy that lawmakers adopted at McCall’s urging to stop the suburban and industrial growth that makes highway corridors in other states like an endless malls.

The Urban Growth Boundary was that solution; it created a clear boundary between land that could be developed for commercial purposes and areas that had to be left as farmland or forest.

The Rajneeshee sect attempted to establish its ideal city on farmland in Wasco County, but that boundary proved to be a sticking point in the Rajneeshee narrative. (Stacey might have passed for a resident of the property with his massive beard.) Stacey oversaw 1000 Friends’ legal challenges to Rajneeshpuram’s building and was rewarded with a box of tainted chocolates.

Bob Stacy, Who Fought The Rajneshee Cult Over Oregon's Land Use, Dies At 72
Bob Stacy, Who Fought The Rajneshee Cult Over Oregon’s Land Use, Dies At 72

Stacey recalls getting the chocolate package with a card that read “From the Friends of the Columbia Gorge” in an interview she had with a reporter for the government-run Metro last year.

The director of Friends of the Gorge, Bowen Blair, had his offices a few floors above us, so I called him,” Stacey recounted. He returns the call and announces, “We didn’t bring you any chocolates!”

Stacey continued to work, unfazed, as the director of planning for Portland, Blumenauer’s chief of staff (in fact, twiceβ€”at City Hall and in Congress), and the executive director of 1000 Friends, a position he maintained from 2002 until 2010. He almost lost to Tom Hughes in the contest for Metro Council President that year. He joined Hughes on the Metro Council in 2012, which regulates land use in the area, including the Urban Growth Boundary.

Stacey quit Metro last year to seek treatment for meninges, a non-cancerous brain tumor that he had battled for ten years.

According to Metro Council President Lynn Peterson on Thursday night, “He was a courageous fighter, standing up to bullies large and small, from huge corporate developers to Ma Sheela and the Rajneeshees, who wanted to turn over Oregon’s unique environment for their own personal profit and purpose. Bob leaves a lasting imprint on this state that we all adore through his work, wit, personality, and love of Oregon.

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