Quasi-Judicial Amendments

Certain land uses require Comprehensive Plan map changes by local governments through a site-specific quasi-judicial process.  The burden of proof is on the Applicant in these cases and CSA has a proven track record of success in putting these complicated cases together.  The firm’s high success rate has been achieved through our project management approach that typically involves the following steps:

1. Feasibility

Initiation of the project typically involves preliminary meetings with the client to understand their land use objectives and to compare these objectives to the applicable regulations.  CSA takes the client information and compares it to applicable regulations.  Identification of applicable criteria sounds like a simple task, but Oregon’s system is complex and it often involves several days of research to identify all the applicable criteria for a quasi-judicial plan amendment.

2. Entitlement Strategy

Once the criteria have been identified and the objectives are well understood, CSA develops a strategy and general approach for entitlement.  Specific attention is paid to any criteria that demand a high burden of proof or for which there may be problematic case law or conflicting criteria.  A big part of CSA’s success on complicated quasi-judicial Comprehensive Plan Map changes is that we typically work closely with a lawyer on the project.  CSA has longstanding relationships with the best land use attorneys in the region and in the entire State.  CSA often recommends engaging legal counsel at this stage in the process to assure the selected entitlement strategy is the best available for the project.

3. Pre-Application

This step involves a preliminary meeting with the applicable jurisdiction to get their feedback on the proposed amendments and general entitlement approach to the project.  There are often several technical alternatives associated with a given entitlement strategy and this is an opportunity to discuss the alternatives with the staff with the goal of reaching consensus on these issues with the staff prior to undertaking the more rigorous full application preparation.

4. Application Preparation

This is where most of the work gets done.  CSA’s track record of success is founded on our attention to detail, application structure, and analytic rigor.  CSA has in-house professional expertise in many of the analysis areas required for application preparation and this creates value and efficiency for the client.  CSA (together with the attorney for the project) also identify where outside technical expertise is required.  CSA has established relationships with experts in a wide array of fields that are among the best in the State of Oregon.  We structure our applications so that they can be explained in relatively simple terms to decision making bodies such as Planning Commissions and City Councils yet also include all the procedural and technical details necessary to inform the planning staff assigned to the project and other reviewing agencies that comment on the application during the review process.

5. Public Process

CSA has relatively little control over the public process once the application is filed.  This is what makes application preparation and structure so critical.  We strive to reach agreement with reviewing agencies and planning staff on as many issues as possible.  If there is opposition to the application during the public hearings process we work closely with the project attorney to respond to issues that are raised in a manner that is understandable to the decision making body but is also legally sufficient should the matter proceed on appeal.