The Oregonian's editorial board handed some praise to Crook County citizens this morning for voting to put the brakes on more destination resorts.
The state's biggest newspaper said "it's a shame that the late [Gov. Tom] McCall" - principal architect of Oregon's pioneering land-use laws - "isn't around today to see what happened in last week's Oregon primary. Voters in Crook County, the rugged land of rimrock and sagebrush where McCall spent much of his boyhood, overwhelmingly rebuffed the pro-development forces."
Crook Countians, by a 2-1 ratio, approved a non-binding initiative calling on the county court to repeal the county's destination resort "overlay map," which would have the effect of stopping any new resort approvals.
"The lopsided vote is particularly significant because it's an Oregon first," the editorial continued. "Since the land-use reforms of the McCall era, challenges by environmental groups and other interests have blocked destination resorts in several corners of Oregon, but last Tuesday's election marked the first time that county voters passed such an initiative. ..."
"Crook County opponents have some justification in warning that these projects are essentially large subdivisions under the guise of destination resorts. They will, as critics complain, have a significant impact on the county's vehicle traffic, water supply and wildlife habitat.
"Prineville boosters of the new resorts correctly point out that they will contribute heavily through property taxes and create hundreds of jobs. But opponents are equally correct in noting that the influx of homes will inflate land values, putting unwelcome pressure on farmland and making housing unaffordable for workers who will fill all those low-paying new jobs.
"It didn't help the boosters' case when The Bulletin of Bend reported earlier this month that central Oregon resorts are struggling to fill housekeeping jobs and other menial positions. Despite unemployment rates that are at four-year highs, the newspaper reported, resorts are turning to other countries to find such workers."