Bill will help the public track their money

Rep. Sal Esquivel

Rep. Sal Esquivel

A bill drafted in response to an important local issue is making its way through the legislative process. House Bill 3013 was inspired by the controversy surrounding the Cherry Creek Development in Medford. The property involved was purchased by the Jackson County Housing Authority, at which point the zoning was changed to a higher density in order to accommodate low-income housing.

Neighbors became concerned about the possible impacts on home values, and asked to see the appraisal that had been done prior to the property purchase. Their request was denied, despite the fact that this was all done with public money. Once the transaction had been completed, there was no reason to conceal this information from the public. But the housing authority still refused to divulge that information.

HB 3013 excludes real estate appraisals submitted to a housing authority or obtained by a Housing and Community Services Department from public records disclosure exemption. It passed the Oregon House of Representatives on a unanimous, bipartisan 60-0 vote on Tuesday, April 23, and is on its way to the Senate.

This common sense proposal will bring greater transparency to processes involving properties purchased with public dollars. The passage of HB 3013 will ensure that decisions utilizing public monies are not made in secrecy behind closed doors.

Such a proposal never should have been necessary in the first place.  I’m determined to do everything I can to see this bill through to passage in order to prevent this kind of situation from ever happening again.

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