Policies Guide

Guide to Public Policy Decisions

Oregon is famous nationally and internationally for the public policy decisions made during Governor Tom McCall’s tenure. Below is a list of terms that will help students understand the legacy left to them as Oregonians.

  • The Oregon Beach Bill is landmark legislation that was passed by the 1967 Oregon legislature. It established public ownership of land along the Oregon Coast from the water up to sixteen vertical feet above the low tide mark. (House Bill 1601, 1967)
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  • The Oregon Bottle Bill is drink-container-deposit legislation passed in Oregon in 1971 and amended in 2007 and 2009. It requires cans, bottles, and other containers of carbonated soft drink, beer, and (since 2009) water sold in Oregon to be returnable with a minimum refund value. Many other states have since adopted their own bottle bills.
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  • Oregon’s Bicycle Bill was adopted in 1971 and requires that pedestrian and bicycle facilities be added whenever a highway, road or street is constructed, reconstructed or relocated. The statute also requires that Oregon’s Department of Transportation spend at least one percent of its share of state highway funds on pedestrian and bicycle facilities.
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  • Land Use Planning became a major issue in 1973 when Senate Bill 100 passed through the legislature. Designed to provide state control over land use decisions, the final bill did not go as far as McCall had originally intended. A compromise bill created the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC). Oregon’s Land Use Laws are intended to protect Oregon’s farm and forest lands from development, so that agricultural soils are preserved for growing crops and timber.
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  • Even-Odd Days: An innovative plan for gas rationing that eliminated the long lines at the gas stations. In 1973 the United States was suffering from a severe gas shortage. Governor Tom McCall worked with Oregon’s service station owners to impose the odd/even plan which used vehicles license plate numbers to determine when gasoline could be purchased. Oregon was the first to use the Even-Odd plan, but other states soon followed Oregon’s lead.
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  • Vortex One: In 1970 the American Legion planned to hold a conference in Portland. A group of young anti-war activists calling themselves the People’s Army Jamboree planned to protest. Although McCall supported the war in Vietnam, he had no desire for violence. McCall averted protests by sponsoring a rock concert, Vortex I, at McIver State Park; this concert was the first, and most likely only, such event sponsored by a state government in the United States.
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  • Tom McCall Waterfront Park: In May, 1974, the state of Oregon closed Harbor Drive in downtown Portland so it could use the land to build a park. This closure opened up the waterfront to pedestrians, creating an important amenity for downtown. Tearing down Harbor Drive and replacing it with a park was a key step in transforming Portland from a freeway oriented city to a more pedestrian friendly city. The park was named Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
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  • Clean Air and Water: Even before becoming governor, McCall advocated for an ambitious environmental agenda. In 1962 KGW television in Portland aired McCall’s documentary, Pollution in Paradise, which called attention to the poor condition of the Willamette River and the polluted industrial air of Oregon. Soon after assuming the office of Governor, he appointed himself interim chairman of the Oregon State Sanitary Authority to push for strengthened state-wide water and air pollution regulations. In 1969 the legislature passed a comprehensive program to curb pollution that included the creation of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.