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Landslides: Statutory Background
Introduction
This section provides a brief summary of statewide legislation that addresses natural hazards planning and regulation in Oregon. Specifically, this section looks at Statewide Planning Goal 7 and Senate Bill 12.

Statewide Planning Goal 7
Statewide Planning Goal 7 is one of the original 14 Statewide Planning Goals adopted by the Land Conservation and Development Commission in 1974. (See the history at Oregon's Statewide Land Use Planning Program)
 
The Statewide Planning Goals express the state's policies on land use and related topics. Oregon state law requires each city and county in the state to adopt a comprehensive plan with ordinances needed to put the plan into effect. All local plans must be consistent with each of Oregon's 19 Statewide Planning Goals.
 
Goal 7 (pdf) seeks to "protect life and property" from natural disasters and hazards such as floods, landslides, and earthquakes. To help accomplish this protection, the Goal requires that local plans be based on an inventory of known areas subject to natural hazards and disasters and advises that "developments subject to damage or that could result in loss of life shall not be planned nor located in known areas of natural disasters and hazards without appropriate safeguards."
 
Local governments have responded to Goal 7 by incorporating hazard inventories into their comprehensive plans and by adopting policies and ordinances to protect people and property from the identified hazard.
 
The Land Conservation and Development Commission adopted amendments to Goal 7 in September 2001. The amendments became effective on June 1, 2002.

Senate Bill 12
While Goal 7 covers all natural hazards, other state policies and regulations address individual hazards. For example, Oregon specifically addressed "rapidly moving landslides" (debris flows) [See Appendix E] in 1999 in response to the catastrophic landslide events that occurred in Oregon in 1996.
 
In brief, Senate Bill 12:
  • Directs the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) to identify areas potentially prone to debris flows on "further review area" maps;
  • Directs the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) to assist local governments in implementing the Bill;
  • Requires the Oregon Board of Forestry to adopt regulations that reduce the risks associated with rapidly moving landslides;
  • Requires the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) and DOGAMI to provide technical assistance to local governments;
  • Requires the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to provide warnings to motorists during periods determined to be of the highest risk of rapidly moving landslides along areas of state highways with a history of being most vulnerable to rapidly moving landslides; and
  • Directs the Office of Emergency Management of the Department of State Police to coordinate state resources for rapid and effective response to landslide-related emergencies.
 
Senate Bill 12 establishes responsibilities for local governments as well. The bill requires local governments to "regulate through mitigation measures and site development standards the siting of dwellings and other structures designed for human occupancy in further review areas where there is evidence of substantial risk for rapidly moving landslides." Governments are limited in prohibiting development in high-risk areas unless they offer property owners an opportunity to participate in a Transfer of Development Rights program.
 
For more information on Transfer of Development Rights programs, see the Local Government section of this website.

Report to the Legislature
In addition to these requirements, Senate Bill 12 also required DOGAMI, DLCD, and ODF to submit a report to the 71st Legislative Assembly by January 1, 2001. In December of 2000, these departments presented the "Report to the 71st Legislative Assembly on the Implementation of 1999 Senate Bill 12 Relating to Public Safety and Rapidly Moving Landslides" (pdf).
 
Specifically, the departments were required to report on the:
  • Status of DOGAMI's work on identifying and mapping "further review areas";
  • Pilot project to develop model programs for the hazard mitigation and transfer of development rights; and the
  • Recommendations for specific changes to Sections 1-7 of Senate Bill 12.

Department of Geology and Mineral Industries
Senate Bill 12 requires DOGAMI to map "further review areas" in coordination with ODF.
 
These two departments have worked together to develop maps that utilize state-of-the-art technology in landslide hazard identification in order to provide information to local governments that will allow for more informed mitigation decisions. The map-making approach has involved comparing existing geographic information systems (GIS) data with the results of field investigations, revising the GIS data, and repeating the process.
 
For more information on this mapping effort, see the Mapping and Technical Resources section of this website.

Department of Land Conservation and Development
DLCD received money from the legislature to award a grant to a local government for the development of a model program to help in the mitigation of rapidly moving landslide hazards. These funds were awarded to Douglas County in November 1999 for project work that began in January 2000.
 
Douglas County agreed to produce four main products: a model landslide hazards ordinance, model documents to support implementation of Senate Bill 12, a model Transfer of Development Rights program, and procedures to integrate DOGAMI's "further review area" maps into local tax parcel maps.

Oregon Department of Forestry
Senate Bills 1211 and 12, passed in 1997 and 1999 respectively, contain provisions to be addressed by the ODF. These provisions include the interim prohibition of forest operations in certain areas and the development of certain forest practices requirements.
 
The interim prohibitions authorized by Senate Bill 1211 will eventually be replaced by the forest practice rules to be adopted by the Oregon Board of Forestry as required by Senate Bill 12.
 
For more information on ODF Forest Practices see the following website:
 

Interim Prohibitions
Senate Bill 1211, a precursor to Senate Bill 12, authorized the ODF to prohibit forest operations on steep, landslide-prone sites above homes and busy roads in the interest of public safety. Specifically, the State Forester is authorized to prohibit operations if all of the following conditions exist:
  • The operation location includes high-risk sites;
  • Residences and other buildings where people are likely to be present during periods of intense rainfall or where paved county or state highways are in such close proximity to the potential path of a landslide or debris torrent that there is significant risk to human life; and
  • The farthest expected extent of a potential landslide or debris torrent that might originate in the operation area, based on physical features of the landslide or debris torrent path, will reach the residences, buildings, or highways.

Forest Practices Requirements
Senate Bill 12 required the ODF to adopt and enforce forest practice rules to reduce the risk of serious bodily injury or death from rapidly moving landslides (Oregon Revised Statutes 527.630).
 
ORS 527.710(11) sets forth the criteria the Board of Forestry should consider in adopting such rules, including the exposure of the public to these safety risks and appropriate practices to reduce the occurrence, timing, or effects of rapidly moving landslides.
 
The Board of Forestry adopted six Guiding Principles in April 2000 to guide the development of the forest practice rules to meet the requirements of Senate Bill 12. The six principles are as follows:
  • Guiding Principle #1- Protection of the public can only be achieved through the shared responsibilities of homeowners, road users, forestland owners, and state and local governments.
  • Guiding Principle #2- Shallow-rapid landslides (the type that present the greatest risk to human life) pose the principal public safety threat that might be affected by forest operations. The regulation of certain forest practices, combined with other actions, can result in limited protection of the public. However, it is important not to mislead the public into thinking that such regulations will prevent all or even a majority of landslides in locations prone to rapidly moving landslides.
  • Guiding Principle #3- Public safety regulations should be risk-based (i.e., the greater the risk of physical injury to the public, the higher the appropriate standards for review of hazard and risk and also for control of practices which might affect the occurrence of, or impacts from, rapidly moving landslides)
  • Guiding Principle #4- Public safety regulations should minimize economic impacts on private landowners consistent with providing a risk-based level of public protection.
  • Guiding Principle #5- Where protection of public safety can be achieved more efficiently through means other than forest practice regulations, the department should facilitate these measures as resources permit.
  • Guiding Principle #6- Planning for land-management activities in landslide-prone locations should address two key questions: What is the inherent hazard at the site? Can the risk of damage to natural resources and the threat of personal injury be mitigated?
 
ODF is using these principles to guide the development of forest practice rules to meet the requirements of Senate Bill 12.
 
A project team comprised of representatives from ODF, DOGAMI, DLCD, OEM, ODOT, and other organizations has collaborated on the development of a Landslide and Public Safety Project Issue Paper that identifies issues related to forest practices and landslides, and presents a set of recommendations to the Board of Forestry designed to address the requirements of Senate Bill 12. The Board of Forestry will incorporate these recommendations into the forest practice rules that will be adopted as required by Senate Bill 12.

HB 3375
See also HB 3375 (pdf) for 2003 Legislative changes to the original SB 12 legislation