continued Larson agrees that downzoning is a risk of real estate ownership. But he supports a plan for farmers to set aside part of their property for agricultural uses. "It becomes a permanent agricultural preserve," he says. "The form of compensation remains to be seen -- it could be fee-based or government-based. People who own land should get just compensation."
But McFetridge hoots that such a program is voluntary and would hardly solve the problem. "Conservation easements are voluntary. Ours is a long-term plan," he says.
Oregon lawyer Robert Liberty, former director of One Thousand Friends of Oregon, asks, "If your farm originally had not much value, and suddenly it has value, did you create that? When a freeway interchange is built, and property becomes valuable, those people are not asked to pay back the government for value that it created. Why should it work the other way?"
Liberty points out that the farm bureau in his state is in favor of the program that mandates minimal land sizes of 40 and 80 acres and has created a green belt surrounding the Portland metro area. In his state, "not only are lot sizes restricted, but building houses is restricted," says Liberty, who has visited San Diego to speak in behalf of the local initiative. "Oregon farmers support minimum lot sizes as a way to protect farming from conflicting uses and driving up the price of land so they can't buy it."
Invective flies. Last week, Larson accused Prop. A. proponents of playing "fast and loose with the truth" by citing the 60 Minutes exposé.
Last summer, Davis Ross, a writer for Valley Center's Valley Roadrunner, noted that McFetridge lives alone in a cabin in Descanso with three dogs and a cat. "Am I alone in noticing the weird resemblance between his Russian monk existence and that of the Unibomber and Theodore Kazinsky?" asked Ross. Problem: the correct spellings are Unabomber and Kaczynski, respectively. Ross doesn't speak for the farm bureau, says Larson.