Hillsboro, other cities file lawsuit against state
The coalition of cities that have banded together to sue the state of Oregon have officially filed legal action against the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD), new court filings show.
The legal action comes after multiple jurisdictions throughout Oregon, including the city of Hillsboro, complained about the state's new Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities (CFEC) rules, drafted by the DLCD and enacted earlier this year.
They say the rules are too sweeping and impactful to the cities they affect, and the coalition is suing for a judicial review of the rules.
The petition was filed with the Oregon Court of Appeals on Friday, Nov. 17, along with a motion to pause any enforcement of the rules until that review has concluded. It asks the courts to weigh in on the matter promptly, as the rules are set to go into effect at the start of next year.
"This motion is brought on an emergency basis," the court filing states, "and its resolution is necessary in less than 21 days to avoid irreparable harm to local communities across Oregon."
The rules mandate that cities in Oregon's metropolitan areas must adopt new land use and development criteria that are designed to reduce carbon emissions, as well as address transit and housing gaps.
The Hillsboro City Council voted in September to join the coalition, saying the state didn't do its due diligence to address the city's concerns with the new rules. Other cities felt just as strongly.
The cities joining in the lawsuit are Cornelius, Forest Grove, Grants Pass, Happy Valley, Keizer, Medford, Oregon City, Sherwood, Springfield, Troutdale, Tualatin and Wood Village. Marion County also joined the lawsuit.
The court filings say the cities aren't opposed to the purported reason behind the rules, but rather the substance of them and the way they were created.
"The Coalition supports using Oregon's land use planning system to create more climate-friendly and equitable communities," the motion reads. "This case is appropriately about making certain that these praiseworthy goals can be achieved, and that the Land Conservation and Development Commission does not hamper local efforts by carelessly mandating rules that are not workable or will have unforeseen consequences."
Instead, the coalition says that the DLCD overstretched its statutory authority by mandating changes to local municipal codes and development codes. The petition asserts that the DLCD is allowed to set statewide goals, which are then up to local jurisdictions to implement how they see fit for their communities.
"The CFEC Rules have gone too far, and improperly seek to dictate what local governments must do to satisfy the goals regardless of local circumstances," the court filing states.
Hillsboro officials specifically called out the rules for coming about because of a 2020 executive order from Gov. Kate Brown, not through a legislative bill.
Once the rules take effect in January, cities are then required to start reporting their progress to the DLCD.
As such, the purpose of the lawsuit is to force the state back to the table and to hit pause on the rules.
The state agency responded that the climate crisis these rules aim to curb is a problem now, and it cannot put these rules on pause.
The DLCD continues to point to numerous public hearings and public testimony from thousands of Oregonians as proof that it didn't move too slowly or without input from affected communities.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.