The Oregon Land Use Plan is coming under growing criticism now that the full impact of the rules set to protect the state from wanton growth are fully understood.
Thirty years ago, when the plan was built around local land use needs, most rural localities had neither the expertise nor the understanding to effectively predict their future.
The concept of the plan was to protect the state's natural resources and farmland from unchecked urban sprawl.
There is much to be said for planned growth around which gathers industrial, commercial and residential properties in thoughtful and logical proximity to each other. There is a savings in energy getting from one to another, and as the clusters thrive the surrounding green places are preserved.
But the concept that some agency in one part of a diverse state such as Oregon will know what's best for all areas smacks of arrogance.
Planning is essential. Protection of resources and lifestyles and investment are the keys to the zoning that comes with planning.
But to think that anyone could predict the future 30 years out is, once again, an arrogance that poisons the best intentions.
A five-year plan in business is a stretch that requires updating from time to time.
Who would have predicted 30 years ago that Hermiston would have 37 percent of the state's entire inventory of certified, shovel-ready industrial land?
More to the point, who would have imagined that Hermiston's 37 percent amounts to 350 acres? That's what the House Land Use Committee learned from Hermiston City Manager Ed Brookshire last Wednesday.
How can a state compete in the world of economic development with fewer than 1,000 acres of land on which to site an interested party? Brookshire knows it cannot compete with the nearby Tri Cities with their 4,500 certified acres.
That's right, those three cities have 4.5 times as much as the entire state of Oregon.
Brookshire also knows that despite Gov. Kulongoski's edict that the state's Land Use Commission become focused on helping growth, that expanding a city's Urban Growth Boundaries is easier said than done. Much easier said than done.
Currently, land outside a city's urban growth boundary but zoned for industrial and commercial use, is known as "rural industrial" or "rural commercial." This is the much talked about land on Highway 395 north of Hermiston.
The DLCD has imposed impossible and arbitrary limits on such land - no commercial building larger than 3,000 square feet; no industrial building larger than 35,000 square feet.
The reality is that such limits fly in the face of the 19 stated goals of the statewide land use plan. They scatter commercial and industrial sites rather than letting them cluster around a large attraction.
They also limit growth.
If you think this is frustrating to Hermiston, Pendleton has 20 acres or so of certified industrial property to develop in its Urban Growth boundaries, and there is no rural commercial or rural industrial land nearby.
Umatilla County is not the only place chaffing under the bondage of the DLCD. The plan's lack of flexibility and responsiveness is directly proportional to its statewide span of control.
The solution is to shut it down and replace it with regional planning districts. Provided with the same worthwhile goals as serving the people it is supposed to protect, regional planning would look at the 395 corridor north of Hermiston and respond with a rational "best use" decision.
The time is long past for changing this one-size fits all land use planning approach. It is long past time to address the arrogance that one group of people in Salem can decide what's best for thousands of residents in Eastern Oregon.
The statewide plan was born of the dreaded ballot measure, and it'll have to be repealed the same way.
It's long past time.