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Cedar Mill News
Volume 3, Issue 5


May 2005

Annexation bills moving through State Legislature

By Jerry Ritter, Secretary, Oregon Communities for a Voice in Annexation

Editor's note:Annexation became a big issue for Cedar Mill last fall when Beaverton changed its policy and began an aggressive push to swallow up “islands” that had been created when Beaverton annexed roads surrounding unincorporated areas. (The parcel proposed for a Wal-Mart store legally became part of Beaverton the day before the store proposal was announced.

Oregon Communities for a Voice in Annexations (OCVA) was formed in late 1996 in response to events in Philomath and other communities regarding forced annexations. The goal of our organization is not to stop annexations, but to be sure citizens have a meaningful voice in the annexation process. Under the current laws preferred by some of the larger cities, they do not.

There are about a half-dozen annexation-related bills in this session. The two that appear to have momentum, with at least one having a chance of being enacted, are HB 2484 and SB 887. HB 2484, (introduced by Cedar Mill State Representative Mitch Greenlick, Cedar Hills Rep. Brad Avakian and others) passed the full House last week with a 45 - 13 approval. The margin surprised us because there are powerful forces, led by the League of Oregon Cities, that have been vehemently opposed to any of our annexation reform efforts. This bill clarifies the currently vague language of ORS-195.205-215 as requiring a “double majority” vote to approve “service provider” annexations.

This method has gained favor among some larger cities as a way to annex large chunks of territory without having to deal with opposition and concerns in the targeted area(s). The existing voting language of the state law (ORS 195) can be interpreted either of two ways: as meaning “double majority,” where both the city and target area(s) vote independently on the plan, thus giving veto power to either group; or “combined vote” where all the ballots are counted together, thus giving the larger body an advantage. The League of Oregon Cities insists that only the latter is correct.
With a combined vote, city residents usually vastly outnumber those in the targeted area. That means those most impacted by the annexation effectively have no voice in the process. That’s why cities like this method. Unfortunately, it’s grossly unfair, which is why we’ve been trying to get the language of HB 2484 enacted for nearly 8 years. You can learn more about the background and problems with ORS-195 from a paper called “Hostile Takeover” on the OCVA website (www.ocva.org).

SB 887 (introduced by State Senator Charlie Ringo and Representatives Greenlick, Avakian and Hunt) includes similar language relevant to ORS-195, but also puts a moratorium on the practice of “island annexation” by Beaverton. That city has been aggressively and intentionally creating “islands” (areas of unincorporated land surrounded by city property) by annexing county streets - a process called “cherrystemming.” Under ORS-222.750, a city can annex an island with NO vote of the targeted annexees.

SB 887 also grants Nike (in Washington County) a 15-year exemption from forced annexation. However, the island and ORS-195 amendments of 887 sunset in January 2008. In the interim, the bill creates a Legislative Task Force with supporting work group to try to come up with a plan to reform Oregon annexation law that will satisfy all concerned parties. Assuming the group can do that (a daunting task), it is presumed the 2007 Legislature would enact the plan into law.

SB 887 passed the full Senate in April with only two dissenting votes. The large base of support in both chambers for annexation reform is a testament to the widespread concern and anger among tens of thousands of Oregonians who have been forcibly annexed against their wills or who are facing forced annexation.



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The Cedar Mill News
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Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
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