Polyrational Communication: The Process of Engaging with the Public While Drafting a Riparian Ordinance
Ostrove, Geoffrey B.
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Ostrove, Geoffrey B.
Imagine that you just purchased a house with a backyard deck that overlooks a pristine river. Imagine being able to look out your back window at a beautiful natural body of water. Imagine how important that river would be to you. Wouldn’t you want to do everything you can to both (a) maintain your access to the beautiful river and (b) maintain the quality of the river’s water? Therefore, how do community and regional planners implement land use policies that allow landowners to accomplish both of those goals? Implementing policies that protect the land immediately adjacent to a body of water can be a complicated process. Known as riparian ordinances, these policies are meant to regulate urban development near rivers, creeks, and streams in order to protect water quality. Many times, however, landowners are resistant to these types of policies. Riparian ordinances are viewed by some landowners as a violation of their property rights. This conflict is complicated because both sides are valid. As individuals, no one wants their government to set seemingly arbitrary restrictions regarding what can and can’t be done on private property. On the other hand, as members of a community, no one wants to see the quality of their water detrimentally impacted by a stubborn and selfish landowner. The purpose of this project is to demonstrate how planning scholars may actively and strategically engage with the public to have their research impact public deliberation, policy, and practice. The case studies for this project are three small cities located in the State of Oregon: Turner, Coburg, and Shady Cove. Utilizing methods such as document analysis, participant observation, and interviews with landowners, land use planners, and policymakers, this project draws upon Cultural Theory to help uncover the varied rationalities that must be considered when attempting to implement a riparian ordinance. The commoditization of land is at the center of this issue. How do we implement land use policies that respect the property rights of landowners while still protecting the quality of the natural environment?