Frequently Asked Questions

What was initiative measure 2-108?

The initiative amended the City Charter to require that the voters approve:

  • Sales or transfers of parks or natural areas, and
  • Changes in use from park or natural area to non-park or non-natural area uses.

Why did we need it?

Existing law and policy allowed the City to sell these properties without public input and placed these valued community green spaces at risk. Only a Charter Amendment binds future Councils.

Was a Charter Amendment the only way to protect parks and natural areas?

Yes. The City Attorney advised the Council that it can ignore or change resolutions or codes to allow sale of parks or natural areas, or to use the lands for other purposes. Only a Charter Amendment is immune to changes by government agencies or the City Council.

Were parks and natural areas lands threatened with non-park or non-natural areas uses?

Yes, there have been proposals to:

  • Use a natural area to build a homeless shelter (2018)
  • Give a city natural area to the county to build a jail (2017)
  • Build homeless shelter in a natural area (2017)
  • Move the county health facility to a city natural area (2017)
  • Trade natural area land with a developer (2016)
  • Use a natural area for storm water mitigation for a private development (2016)
  • Sell a neighborhood park for a parking area (2014 and 2015)
  • Sell parks for revenue (2014)
  • Build a secondary sewage treatment plant in a natural area (2009 - 2012)
  • Convert natural areas to sports fields (2000)

Can Corvallis use parks or natural areas for another critical community use?

Yes. The Charter Amendment just requires that the voters decide.

Can we change from one park use to another?

Yes. The Amendment doesn't limit conversion to other park uses, as defined in the Parks and Recreation Master Plan.

Can we transfer or swap parts of a park or natural area to improve public access or use?

Yes. In the case of transfer or swap, public process will require a vote of the electorate that may occur at any of four elections throughout a year.

Can parks or natural areas lands be used for non-park or non-natural areas purposes?

Yes, if the use is temporary (continues for less than two years) and does not leave behind permanent changes to the use of the park or natural area. If the use is for more than two years, then voter approval is required.

Does the Charter Amendment apply to minor changes in park or natural area use?

No. Construction of new park facilities or expansion of existing structures is part of parks and natural areas management.

Will the Amendment delay the acquisition of new park or natural area lands?

No. It does not apply to acquisition of new lands; it applies only to existing parks and natural areas.

Does the Amendment create a decision making process that is inclusive and transparent?

Yes. It prevents closed door deals. It ensures that the public is aware of the issues, allows for public debate, and lets the public decide the future of parks and natural areas.

Does the Amendment increase bureaucracy in the city government?

No. It requires Council to present the voters with a choice regarding the sale, trade or transfer of use of for parks and natural areas. No additional administrative review is created.

Does the Charter Amendment lengthen the process of selling, trading or changes to the use of parks or natural areas?

Yes! That is the purpose of the amendment - to ensure adequate public debate about the merits of such changes and secure approval of the voters who own the parks and natural areas.

What effect would the sale or conversion of existing park and natural areas have?

Sale of lands purchased with municipal bonds or parks system development charges would expose the city to litigation for using the money for purposes other than what voters approved.

What about parks or natural areas that were donated to the city?

This Charter Amendment honors donors' generosity and assures them - and potential future donors - that parks and natural areas will always remain green spaces available for public use.

Does the Amendment apply to all lands managed by the Parks and Recreation Department?

No. The Arts Center, Majestic Theater and Osborne Aquatic Center are managed by the department, but they are not in parks or natural areas.

Does the Amendment apply to all lands in the city that are used as parks or natural areas?

No. School District 509-J owns lands that are currently used as parks. Garfield Park and Wildcat Park are examples. These lands are school grounds and not city parks, so the measure does not apply to them.

Does the Amendment apply to buildings and structures already existing in city parks or natural areas?

No. The city has many structures in parks and natural areas that are used for a wide variety of events. The measure has no effect on such existing uses.

Does the Amendment affect administrative buildings in parks?

No. Facilities that support Parks and Recreation Department management are necessary to meet the Department's mission.

What about parking expansion for parks and natural areas?

Parking for parks or natural areas access is a park use and would not require voter approval.

What determines whether existing city land is used for parks or natural areas?

Land acquired by the Corvallis Parks and Recreation Department and used for parks or natural areas should continue to be used for those purposes unless the voters decide otherwise.

Was a public hearing required before the city can sell parks or natural areas?

Not necessarily. State law allows a local government to create a policy for selling public lands. After the policy is adopted a public hearing is not required for sales of city lands. (Oregon Revised Statutes 221.727)

Does the Amendment "micromanage" city government?

No. Over the past 45 years only three issues might have invoked this Amendment. Once every fifteen years is not "micromanaging."

How are park or natural area uses decided?

The Parks and Recreation Master Plan describes allowed uses of parks and natural areas. The Corvallis Parks Natural Areas and Recreation Advisory Board, a group of volunteer citizens, advises the City Council on parks matters. Park Board recommendations go to the City Council, and are reviewed by the City Attorney.

Will the Amendment improve the process of selling parks or natural area lands?

Organizations with significant resources may try to promote the sale or transfer of a park or natural area (it is unlikely that they would try to protect a park or natural area). The measure ensures a robust public debate on these issues.

Who lead this initiative?

A grass roots volunteer committee with a strong interest in our parks and natural areas leads the initiative. Chief petitioners were Stewart Wershow, Audrey Hatch and Phil Hays; Linda Nelson, Treasurer.

Did you use paid signature gatherers?

No. This was an entirely volunteer-driven initiative.

How can I help Corvallis People for Parks continue to protect our parks?

We need volunteers to help when parks issues arise. Please use the contact button on our web page to volunteer.