Rajneeshpuram - Chronology of land-use litigation
Source of the chronology below is Utopia and Bureaucracy: The Fall of Rajneeshpuram, by Carl Abbott, a member of the urban studies and planning department in Portland State University. The table is a small part of his essay, a deep study with a lot of historical and social context.
The litigation chronicled here revolves around the circumstances of the city of Rajneeshpuram's incorporation, disincorporation and final vindication -- too late to be of any practical use to the city's long-dispersed inhabitants. See below for a consideration of the chronology's key points.
Dec 1, 1981 1000 Friends of Oregon files suit challenging approval of incorporation election for Rajneeshpuram Sep 1982 Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) acknowledges Comprehensive Plan for Rajneeshpuram Mar 2, 1983 Court of Appeals returns case to Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) for determination of substantive compliance with state land-use goals Jul 14, 1983 LCDC adopts administrative rule on incorporation of new cities retroactive to August 1981 (** see below) Sep 29, 1983 LUBA rules that the incorporation of Rajneeshpuram violated two state land-use goals and LCDC administrative rule (** see below) Sep 30, 1983 LCDC approves LUBA ruling (** see below) Oct 1983 Wasco circuit court enjoins further development under authority of City of Rajneeshpuram (** see below) Mar 21, 1984 Court of Appeals reverses LUBA decision of September 1983 Jun 27, 1984 ** Full ten-member panel of Court of Appeals upholds LUBA decision of September 1983 by 6 to 4 margin. See discussion regarding the date assigned to this event. Jul 9, 1985 Oregon Supreme Court overturns LUBA decision of September 1983 but returns case to LUBA for review of two additional issues Mar 14, 1986 LUBA rules in favor of Rajneeshpuram re conflict of interest and against Rajneeshpuram re compliance of incorporation with the state agricultural land goal Aug 6, 1986 Oregon Court of Appeals reverses LUBA by deciding against Rajneeshpuram re conflict of interest and for Rajneeshpuram on compliance with agricultural goal Sep 9, 1987 Oregon Supreme Court upholds LUBA's decision that the incorporation of Rajneeshpuram was not invalid because of conflict of interest 1988 U.S. Supreme Court refuses certiorari, ending litigation on the status of Rajneeshpuram under Oregon land-use planning law
The Fix is in
While Oregon's court system proved itself relatively unbiased and fair in the long run, there is a saying in the legal field, that "Justice delayed is justice denied". So it proved to be for sannyasins' ostensible Utopian experiment in Oregon.
The key moment came in Jul 1983, "LCDC adopts administrative rule on incorporation of new cities retroactive to August 1981". This new rule demonstrated beautifully how "the system" can be made to work for those who have their hands on the levers of power: A group of mostly unelected bureaucrats can make up a new rule for land use in Oregon and make it apply retroactively to cancel previously totally legal processes. Just like that!
That this totally unfair and undemocratic action could be allowed to determine the fate of a legally incorporated city should have been nipped in the bud by fair-minded legal officials but in the event, such were hard to find. Court decisions were quickly made based on this new rule. The timeline:
- Jul 14, 1983 -- The LCDC creates its administrative rule on incorporation of new cities with retroactive effect
- Sep 29, 1983 -- LUBA rules that the incorporation of Rajneeshpuram violated two state land-use goals and LCDC administrative rule
- Sep 30, 1983 -- LCDC approves LUBA ruling one day later
- Oct 1983 -- Wasco circuit court enjoins further development under authority of City of Rajneeshpuram. The city is toast and The Crunch is on!
These decisions were banged around in the courts for years, with appeals, counter-appeals, remands and legal whatnot and hoo-hah, ending, as was said above, with total vindication for the incorporation of the city. But by Sep 1987, when the judgment came, Osho had had his World Tour and sannyasins had long since scattered around the world and regrouped in Pune Two, reunited with Osho for a few more short years.
About the LCDC, the state government's website says:
- Oregon's Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC), assisted by the department, adopts state land-use goals and implements rules, assures local plan compliance with the goals, coordinates state and local planning, and oversees the coastal zone management program.
- The seven commissioners are unpaid citizen volunteers appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. Commissioners are appointed to four-year terms and may not serve for more than two full terms. The statute establishing the commission, ORS 197.030, requires the members be representative of certain regions of the state. At least one member must be or have been an elected city official in Oregon and at least one member must be an elected county official at the time of appointment.