Law Professor Paul Diller makes sense of law affecting disputes between a city and its county

by Patrick Riedling,

  • Professor Paul A. Diller
    Paul A. Diller, professor of law and executive director of the Certificate Program in Law and Government at Willamette University College of Law.

Government and law expert and Willamette University Professor of Law Paul A. Diller was quoted in an Oregonian article that reported on how the recent voter-approved ban on water-bottling facilities in Hood River County affects a proposed Nestlé bottling facility in Cascade Locks, Oregon.

On Monday, May 23, less than a week after the election, a majority of the city council voted to direct attorneys to consider new strategies to close the deal with Nestlé.

The council's decision to proceed was based on a 90-minute public hearing and a review of precinct-level election results, said City Administrator Gordon Zimmerman. While 69 percent of Hood River County voters supported the bottling ban, only 42 percent of voters in the Cascade Locks precinct supported the measure. Based upon the perceived support for the facility that would employ up to 50 people in an area with high unemployment, the city council decided to explore their legal options.

Any legal fight could hinge on questions about what power a home-rule county can exert over a city inside its boundaries, said Paul Diller, a law professor at Willamette University.

Hood River is one of nine counties in Oregon that operate under home rule charters, which are unique to each county. The other 27 counties in Oregon are "general law" counties with no charter of their own.

Oregon law expressly states that general law counties cannot enforce their ordinances and rules within city limits. But the law says nothing about such limitations or rights for home rule counties.

"The Oregon Supreme Court has never ruled on this, so it's an unanswered question," Diller said.

Read the full article on

About Paul A. Diller

Paul A. Diller writes and teaches in the areas of local government, the police power and related issues of state and federal constitutional law at Willamette University College of Law in Salem, Oregon. His scholarly work has appeared in the Stanford Law Review, The University of Chicago Law Review, and the Georgetown Law Journal, among other journals. Diller’s recent scholarship addresses the unique potential of cities to spur regulatory change, particularly with respect to protecting the public health. Diller also directs Willamette Law’s Certificate Program in Law and Government.

About Willamette University College of Law

Opened in 1883, Willamette University College of Law is the first law school in the Pacific Northwest. The college has a long tradition at the forefront of legal education and is committed to the advancement of knowledge through excellent teaching, scholarship, mentoring and experience. Leading faculty, thriving externship and clinical law programs, ample practical skills courses, and a proactive career placement office prepare Willamette law students for today's legal job market. According to statistics compiled by the American Bar Association, Willamette ranks first in the Pacific Northwest for job placement for full-time, long-term, JD-preferred/JD-required jobs for the class of 2014 and first in Oregon for the classes of 2012, 2013 and 2014. Located across the street from the state capitol complex and the Oregon Supreme Court in downtown Salem, the college specializes in law and government, law and business, and dispute resolution. 

Willamette University

University Communications

Waller Hall, Fourth Floor
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

Back to Top