Land Use Planning

Oregon’s land use planning system, if used actively and effectively, can be an important conservation tool.

Oregon Shores has been working with the state’s land use laws and regulations since they were created. (We celebrated the 50th anniversary of the passage of Senate Bill 100, which established the basis for the system, in 2023. Local comprehensive plans based on the law were drafted and adopted during the ensuing decade.) We have advocated for strong resource protections and against inappropriate development before planning commissions, city councils, and county commissions, often appealing faulty local decisions to the Land Use Board of Appeals and the courts. We haven’t won every battle, but over the decades, we have played key roles in stopping harmful developments, including everything from LNG terminals to golf resorts and encouraging the preservation of land for state parks and public trails.

What We're Doing

We do our best to tackle every land use issue of importance to the coastal environment. However, we work throughout the coastal region, and it is difficult to keep track of every potential threat along a 362-mile coast. We often learn about local concerns when it is too late to intervene effectively. Timely information would enable us to get involved when issues first arise and make good decisions about prioritizing our land use program capacity and legal resources (including our Coastal Law Project, a partnership with the Crag Law Center). This is where a network of volunteer land use “scouts” could make a major difference.

We are organizing a network of volunteers who monitor planning activity in their city or county on Oregon Shores’ behalf, serving as an early warning system so that we pick up on emerging issues, ideally before proposed developments ever reach the application stage, but at least when they first enter the regulatory process. We can be much more effective if we get reports on land use proposals under consideration throughout the coastal region.

You Can Help

Volunteers in this network will monitor a city, a county, or perhaps both. (It would also be helpful to monitor relevant state agencies like the Department of State Lands, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, and others.)

There would be three tiers or levels of commitment:

  1. simply monitor the dockets of a city and/or county planning department to alert us to any issues coming up;
  2. more proactively do some research in the community to scout out schemes that are being talked about but have not reached the formal process yet; or, if possible,
  3. get engaged directly in land use decision-making processes, and potentially serve as Oregon Shores’ local representative in testifying, submitting letters to the editor, etc.

It would be ideal to have someone able to do all three for a particular jurisdiction, but a volunteer could be very helpful in handling one or two of these. There doesn’t have to be just one volunteer in each city or county–several people could help in different ways.

Prior experience or knowledge is helpful, of course, but not required. We’ll provide training and support. To learn more about how land use planning works and what we’re seeking from volunteers, see our land use scouting guide, linked above.

Interested in Helping? Get Involved Today