Deschutes County commissioners picked their priorities for legislative action Wednesday. The list they came up with should serve county residents well. They’ll support two measures now before the Oregon Legislature and oppose a third.
The commission opposes Senate Bill 365, which would prevent cities and counties from imposing systems development charges on new marijuana businesses. The idea no doubt stems from a desire to nurture a relatively new and growing industry, but it’s a bad one, as commissioners recognized, and it should be defeated.
Marijuana may be a new industry in Oregon, but that’s no reason to excuse it from paying its fair share to the communities in which it’s located. Too, if the past couple of years are any indication, the marijuana industry is doing a pretty good job of establishing itself, SDCs notwithstanding.
House Bill 2239 is another story, and commissioners were right to decide to support it. It would add a badly needed eighth judge to the Deschutes County Circuit Court, though not immediately. The current need is reflected in the delays it causes. Criminal cases can take 2½ years to get to trial, according to District Attorney John Hummel. Still, knowing that the badly overworked court could expect relief in 2021 it better than nothing.
Finally, commissioners got behind the move to allow the city of Redmond to take part in the same affordable housing pilot project that will allow Bend to develop 35 acres outside its urban growth boundary. House Bill 2336 would do just that. Redmond’s average home price is nearly $300,000, while its average wage is about $40,000, and like Bend, it’s in desperate need of affordable homes. The pilot project allows development to proceed without the lengthy and expensive process of expanding urban growth boundaries.
The impact of all three bills will be felt across the state, not just in Deschutes County.
But county commissioners are right to decide, and to tell others, just what they think will be good or bad for the county and its residents. This list is a good place to start.