On February 28, a Circuit Court ruled against the City of Corvallis to uphold Senate Bill 1573, an OHBA sponsored bill which prevents the use of voter approval of annexations as a way of keeping UGB expansion areas from being annexed into a city.
In June 2016, the City of Corvallis filed a lawsuit, along with the City of Philomath and the League of Oregon cities, aimed at overturning Senate Bill 1573, a law signed by Governor Kate Brown in March 2016 which allowed city councils to approve annexations without voter approval as long as specific conditions were met. Prior to this law, all annexations of new areas in 35 Oregon cities, including several in the Portland Metro area, needed to be approved by a public vote of the entire city. Our affiliated state association, OHBA, was a chief sponsor of SB 1573 and considered accessible annexation to be a key component to housing affordability, as well as in keeping with Oregon’s land use planning system.
On February 28, the Circuit Court ruled that SB 1573 was legal and did not violate either the city’s home rule status or the state constitution. The presiding Judge, Benton County Circuit Court’s Matthew Donohue, wrote in his opinion that “because the legislature provides the authority for annexation, it also may establish the annexation procedure a city must follow” and “nothing in the Oregon constitution grants citizens the right to vote on municipal annexation.”
Local city councils having sole control over annexation is crucial to the local municipalities under HBA’s jurisdiction, and crucial to housing affordability in the Portland Metro area. Given the number of cities in the Portland Metro area that had voter annexation requirements, HBA strongly supports this effort to allow development to move forward in cities like Oregon City and North Plains, among others.