Oregon Topics: Land Use-Overview

Oregon's statewide land use planning program was created in 1973 when the Legislative Assembly passed the Oregon Land Use Act (Senate Bill 100​). Under that program all cities and counties adopted comprehensive plans that meet mandatory state standards. The standards are 19 statewide planning goals that deal with land use, development, housing, transportation, and conservation of natural resources. The passage of Measure 37 in November 2004 showed the potential for profound changes in the implementation of land use laws. The Legislative Assembly subsequently fashioned a compromise bill, which was passed by the voters in 2007 as Measure 49.

Program Mission

Conserve farm land, forest land, coastal resources, and other important natural resources; encourage efficient development; coordinate the planning activities of local governments and state and federal agencies; enhance the state's economy; and reduce the public costs that result from poorly planned development.

State Responsibilities

Set the statewide planning goals that apply to local and state agencies (Land Conservation and Development Commission- LCDC).

Develop suggested guidelines for meeting goals (LCDC).

Review city and county comprehensive plans (LCDC).

Review appeals of land use decisions (Land Use Board of Appeals- LUBA).

City and County Responsibilities

Research, write, and adopt a comprehensive plan. Each plan has two main parts. One is a body of information, often called the inventory, that describes a community's resources and features. It must address all of the topics specified in the applicable statewide goals. The other part, the policy element, describes the community's long-range objectives and the policies by which it intends to achieve them.

Develop and implement land use zoning and land division ordinances that are coordinated with the goals expressed in the comprehensive plan.

Issue permits for variances, conditional uses, subdivisions, land partitions and related land use actions.

Answers to Questions

For questions related to development or land use actions within a particular city or county (e.g., Can I build on my land? What permits do I need? Can my neighbor block my view of the mountains?), contact the appropriate city or county planning department. This department will have the local comprehensive plan, zoning and land division ordinances, permit applications, and other necessary resources.
To read the legal basis for the statewide land use planning program, refer to the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) and Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) for LCD.
For a general understanding of the goals, guidelines, and other state resources, refer to the Land Conservation and Development Department.
To review appeals cases and precedents related to land use issues in Oregon, refer to the Land Use B​oard of Appeals​.