Cities In Oregon Are Suing The State Over Its New Environmental Regulations That Affect Housing, Roads, And Parking

New Environmental Regulations: A coalition of fourteen cities and one county in Oregon has filed a lawsuit against the state’s Department of Land Conservation and Development. The lawsuit challenges a new set of environmental regulations that the coalition claims would force them to change their land use rules in ways that would be detrimental and on a timeline that would be impractically quick.

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Cities In Oregon Are Suing The State Over Its New Environmental Regulations

On Friday, a joint lawsuit was submitted to the Oregon Court of Appeals by the communities of Forest Grove, Grants Pass, Happy Valley, Hillsboro, Keizer, Medford, Oregon City, Sherwood, Springfield, Troutdale, Tualatin, Wood Village, and Cornelius, as well as Marion County.

In addition, on Monday, the plaintiffs submitted a motion to the court in which they asked it to put an immediate stop to the enforcement of the new restrictions while the complaint is being heard.

Cities In Oregon Are Suing The State Over Its New Environmental Regulations
Cities In Oregon Are Suing The State Over Its New Environmental Regulations

According to the website for the department, the lawsuit is directed at Oregon’s “Climate-Friendly and Equitable Communities” rules. These regulations were adopted over the summer by the Land Conservation and Development Commission in an effort to get Oregon back on track to meet its climate goals. The lawsuit aims to strike down these regulations.

The governor of Oregon, Kate Brown, issued an order in March 2020 that tightened Oregon’s carbon emission goals and directed state agencies to take action to speed up the pace of emission reduction. This order led to the development of the rules, which were developed after the order was issued.

In the lawsuit, the petitioners state that they support the state’s climate goals; however, they claim that the new rules upend Oregon’s existing land use system. According to this system, the state sets broad land use goals; however, local governments have significant power to develop their own customized plans. This system is being challenged in the lawsuit.

More specifically, the plaintiffs argue that limiting the expansion of road networks and concentrating development in city centers could backfire and create more car commuters. This could happen in one of two ways: either by derailing existing plans for new employment centers near residential areas or by pushing future residential development into nearby bedroom towns that are still below the population threshold for the new rules.

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The plaintiffs also take issue with the restrictions that the new rules place on the capacity of local governments to establish minimum parking space requirements for new development. This is a specific point of contention for the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit contends that some cities already have parking shortages and inadequate public transportation and that additional restriction would have an impact on public safety and economic development while also increasing the burden on low-income residents who are forced to drive their own cars because they have no other option.

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