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Enforcement of Land Use Laws

When someone believes a city, county, or special district has made a land use decision that violates a local or state planning or zoning regulation, their recourse is to appeal the decision to the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA). This is the appropriate avenue for most disputes over land use decisions. In certain circumstances, however, a decision-maker may be making a series of decisions that do not comply with relevant regulations. In this case, rather than appealing each decision to LUBA, a party may petition the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) to enforce the regulations.

Enforcement actions may either be initiated by the commission, or be in response to a petition for enforcement by a party. The commission is granted enforcement authority under ORS 197.320 over a number of local government actions (or lack of actions). The commission is also granted the ability (see ORS 197.335) to impose a broad range of remedies if it finds an enforcement order is necessary.

Current Enforcement Proceedings

The following enforcement proceedings are currently underway.

Washington County

On January 23, 2020, the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) found 'good cause' to proceed with enforcement against Washington County based upon a petition from Jill Warren. LCDC appointed a hearings officer to hold a contested case hearing and report back to the Commission. The hearings officer issued a draft order recommending that the commission approve an enforcement order against Washington County. The hearings officer determined that several of the County’s development code standards to protect upland habitat areas and riparian areas were not clear and objective, were unenforceable, and did not protect natural resources as is required by the County’s comprehensive plan. On May 22, 2020 (after continuing this matter from its cancelled March, 2020 meeting), LCDC approved the enforcement order, and in addition directed Washington County to not process development applications for housing projects that impact upland habitat areas until the County adopts new development code provisions that protect these areas with clear and objective standards. The County must adopt enforceable clear and objective standards by May 1, 2021.

LCDC Meeting Materials - January 2020
Order Finding Good Cause No. 001911
Revised Notice of Contested Case Hearing
LCDC Meeting Materials - May 2020
Washington County Final Order - June 1, 2020

Enforcement Proceedings Process

Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) 197.319-335 and Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) 660-45 provide a process that an individual can use to petition LCDC to enforce local government, state agency, or special district for compliance with planning requirements.

The statutes and rules provide several different situations in which someone may choose to pursue a petition for enforcement. The most common petition is if a city, county, or special district has allegedly engaged in a "pattern or practice" of decision-making that violates a state or local, land use or zoning regulation.

The statutes and rules provide the process for review of the petition once it is submitted. The Department of Land Conservation and Development first reviews the petition for completeness. If the petition in complete, the matter will be scheduled for an LCDC hearing to determine whether there is good cause to proceed.

For more information about the enforcement process, contact the department.

Enforcement Decisions Library

This library contains DLCD final orders resulting from enforcement decisions made by the Land Conservation and Development Commission (from 2017 to present).

Contact

Gordon Howard
Community Services Division Manager
gordon.howard@state.or.us
Phone: 503-934-0034

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