Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Homeless in Lake Oswego

Really?  Homeless people in Lake Oswego?  You have to be kidding!

Urban problems have crept into Lake Oswego.  The question is, do we have the tools to fight homeless camping, drug use, harassment, loitering and more?  Is there a humane way to treat mentally ill people?  We can't hide from these problems - they are upon us.  To the streetcar fans out there - HCT will only exacerbate the problem, mostly in the East End.

We moved to Lake Oswego in 1974 knowing there is a population here that wanted a peaceful, safe and quiet life and would support a police forc that could achieve this goal.  I respect the work of our men and women in blue whose work is getting harder. Safety is a fundamental part of the quality of life in Lake Oswego, and we must be vigilant and pro-active to preserve it.

Tip:  Drive by a park, secluded business or apartment/condo parking lot or wide spot on a quiet roadway at night and look for cars or vans that people may be sleeping in.  From personal experience, I can tell you that while this is not common, it does happen.  Locals can cite where people camp at the edges of town, and within city limits.

What do the candidates for mayor and city council think about the problem?  

From the Lake Oswego Review, August 25, 2016
Prior weeks have similar postings. 
Police Log:

8/15/16 6:34 a.m. People exercising at Foothills Park were bothered by a man who was standing nearby and staring at them.

8/17/16 9:08 a.m. Two men who appeared to be homeless sat down in the street after knocking on the door of a home on Northshore Road.

8/19/16 9:22 a.m. A beat-up school bus with mattresses inside was reportedly parked on Overlook Drive.

8/19/16 3:01 p.m. A transient was found sleeping on City property. He was advised to sleep somewhere else.

8/21/16 10:01 p.m. An odd couple showed up at a park bench. The man disappeared, but the woman he left behind looked skinny, strung out and ill. 

Is the American Dream dead?

The American Dream:
Myth vs Reality  

Lies the Central Planners tell us, even though they don't jive with the American Dream.

The Portland Tribune last week reported on three subjects that make mockery of Smart Growth planning.  It is generally unpopular and is being rejected as the reality of the policies hit home.

Myth:   Urbanists have been proclaiming for years that young and old alike want to live in the city, in neighborhoods that are more dense and buzzing with commercial activity 24-7.  This is a ruse to manipulate us into believing Smart Grown plans and increased urban density are desirable, advantageous, and inevitable.
Truth: The American Dream of owning your own home (single-family, detached on its own lot), is alive and well despitelie claims to the contrary.

Portland Tribune, August 23, 2016, By Jim Redden
Most millennials want to buy a home but can't afford one
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the vast majority of millennials in Portland and across the country want to eventually own their own home, according to a survey by Zumper, a startup that tracks issues facing renters. It found that 87.5 percent of millennials in Portland want to buy a home at some point in their lives, just slightly less than the 90 percent national average. 

Myth:  Every neighborhood in the city should be "walkable" with commercial services no more than 1/4 mi. away.  Every neighborhood will be affected to share the burden of increasing population.
Truth:  The American Dream of a single house on a single lot with a back yard includes a neighborhood of the same housing type - not multiplexes on every block. More appropriate locations for multi-family housing exist.
Myth:  Smaller units will yield more affordable housing.
Truth:  New housing costs more than existing housing; the price of housing in general is controlled by the increasing value of the land, high demand and low supply.  Smaller houses and apartments, new and old, will cost whatever the market will bear which may not be affordable at all.

Portland Tribune, August 23, 2016. By Jim Redden
Density fight goes public
Dozens of Southwest Portland neighborhood activists protested the City Council’s proposal to increase residential zoning in single-family neighborhoods during the annual Multnomah Days neighborhood festival Saturday.
In addition to accommodating newcomers, the council believes the smaller housing units will be more affordable than the large houses or tall apartment buildings that are being built throughout the city. 

Myth:  Preserving neighborhood and city character, and trees, is important.
Truth:  Density rules, and builders are kings. Residents are always on the defensive against the city, developers, planners and deep pockets.

Portland Tribune, August 23, 2016. By David Ashton
'Historical' plan divides Eastmorland
The Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association (ENA) Land Use Committee is proposing to have a large area of that neighborhood be designated an official “Historical District”.

“In a nutshell, the effort of creating a Historic District is to preserve trees, lawns, and historic buildings, and preserve the livability of the neighborhood,” McCullough said.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Google fiber is out, unless...

...Lake Oswego kicks in with OPM...?

If Google can't make it with gig fiber optics in Lake Oswego, why does the City Manager Scott Lazenby, the majority of the City Council, and the start-up firm, Symmetrical Networks, think it can?

The short answer is that a private company bears the risk of financial success or failure of a venture while a public entity has no such restraints.  Using public money to back up any misbegotten deal the City Council makes, virtually anything can seem like a good idea.

Being committed to hefty monthly payments that will go on for thirty years whether or not enough customers materialize over that time frame is a risk to city's taxpayers  Not even Symmetrical wants to shoulder the risk of the venture failing.  There is a continuing threat to the affordability of Lake Oswego.

The final paragraph of the article below says that Google may still consider fiber optic cable but wants cities to install it for them to use.  What does this tell you about the wisdom of building a municipal broadband system when private firms don't want to touch it?  Of course, with public entities willing to foot the bill for the infrastructure (similar to urban renewal developer subsidies) and take on some or all of the risk - private companies would be foolish do it on their own. Businesses have to play smart to survive - government doesn't. 

Lake Oswego voters will have an opportunity to participate in an advisory vote on the subject in November, however, the City Council has retained the power to decide whatever it wants.

Lake Oswego Review, August 19, 2016 By Geoff Pursinge
Google fiber isn't coming to Lake Oswego after all
High costs prompt the company to pursue wireless technologies instead, a decision that seems to have caught many suburbs by surprise

Google Fiber, the ultra-high-speed internet provider that has been toying with a Portland-area expansion since 2014, apparently will not be coming to the Rose City or its suburbs — including Lake Oswego — after all. 

According to The Wall Street Journal and other sources, Google has suspended its Portland-area expansion amid a review of its technology and overall strategy. The company now plans to switch from fiber optic cable to wireless technology, dropping several planned expansions in order to head in the new direction.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Liberal or Conservative?

Several candidates for Mayor and City Council have said that they want their campaigns to be either bi-partisan or non-partisan.  I find this curious as all local elected positions are nonpartisan to begin with.  It makes me wonder if they lean to one side of the liberal vs conservative spectrum and see the city as divided this way rather than a whole.

I hope that regardless of the public's political views, each candidate and elected official will listen to and represent all views about how the city should be run, and not just listen or cater to their own clique.
Left or Right?
Test your own political orientation by taking this Pew Research quiz to see which of eight political types you are, and how your views stack up with the rest of the nation.  

Another quiz will compare your beliefs about the seriousness of climate change with countries and regions all over the world.   

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Candidate quiz

What is important to you? 

The active part of the campaign season is coming up, and a variety of public meetings are being scheduled to meet and hear the candidates.  Unless a last-minute candidate appears - registration deadline is August 31 - here is the line-up of candidates for Mayor and City Council:

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Mayor: (Vote for one)
___ Dave Berg
___ Jon Gustafson
___ Kent Studebaker

City Council:  (Vote for three)
___ Charles Collins
___ Theresa Kohloff
___ John LaMotte
___ Skip O'Neill

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Successful Council candidates will join Councilors Jeff Gudman, Joe Buck and Jackie Manz who each have 2 more years in their terms.  If Jeff Gudman is successful in his bid for State Treasurer, the new council will appoint someone to fill his seat for the remainder of his term.  

Four candidates out of seven Mayor/Councilor positions will be elected this November, making this election a crucial one for deciding the future of the city.  

What issues do residents care about, and what actions do the candidates propose?  General questions are below.  Specific questions for individual candidate will be printed later.

Check campaign contributions and spending on Orestar website.  Type in candidate name and check "Candidate" box.  After selecting the candidate from the search results, look for "Campaign Finance Activity" at the bottom of the page.  

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Questions for Candidates:

1.   What do you consider "core" or essential city functions and services? 
2.   How will you prioritize spending on essential and non-essential services?
3.   Do you believe you have a good handle on what the majority of citizens want?  What are
      the concerns most important to Lake Oswegans?   
4.   How do the concerns of the majority of citizens fit with your stated positions and goals
      for the city?
5.   The City Council has eliminated Citizen Comment from their regular meetings.  Is this a
       good or bad idea?  Why?  
6.   How will you find out what citizens want?  
7.   How will you assure that Stakeholder Advisory Committees (SACs) reflect differing 
      points of view and are a true reflection of the general population?
8.   If there is a conflict between the needs of businesses/developers and citizens/residents, 
      which side takes prescedent?  (Candidate may not use the word "balance" in response.)
9.   How important are property rights and personal liberty compared to what you consider
      "the common good?"  Give an example.
10.  What do you think is the most pressing problem in LO, what will you do to ease the 
       problems, and what will it cost?  
11.  What are the trade-offs between spending on your goals and raising taxes or 
       eliminating other services? 
12.  What is your budget for your political campaign?  Are you accepting money from
       businesses or individuals who might benefit from your decisions later on?  (Emphasis
       on might.). If so, will you recuse yourself from discussing and/or voting on these issues?  
13.  What does "quality of life in Lake Oswego" mean to you?

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Portland keeps creeping

4 years ago, Lake Oswego was feeling the Portland Creep. Increased density, less parking, taller and larger buildings, the disappearance of the small town, village feel of our city.  It felt like Metro had a stranglehold on us, along with other suburban towns - they wanted to take over and control us all.  Central Planners (read quote by Tom Hughes below) are big into planning our lives. The model of Smart Growth was, and is, Portland.

But now, even Portlanders feel that enough is enough.  Here in Lake Oswego, the Creep hasn't stopped, and it may be gearing up for another boom.  Portlanders and the surrounding suburban cities have a right to be frustrated and angry.  We elect people to office, and then become their pawns.  So many politicians are wannabe developers.  They love joining the big-money guys to transform the city according to their own visions.

 It's time for people in Portland, Lake Oswego and elsewhere, to elect leaders who listen, not just to their usual cliques, but to the regular people who live here and pay taxes here, and act accordingly.

Read the article below in the Portland Tribune, August 12, 2016, By Jim Redden

Talk of 'Portland Creep' comes home

Four years ago, anti-light rail activists in Clackamas County coined the term Portland Creep to describe the high density redevelopment they feared would accompany the Portland-to-Milwaukie MAX line.  
Last week, Metro President Tom Hughes said some Portlanders are now beginning to push back against Portland Creep in their own neighborhoods as the city grows. 
“There are two things Oregonians hate, sprawl and density,” Hughes told hundreds of transportation planners and consultants attending the 2016 International Conference of the Association for Commuter Transportation at the downtown Hilton Hotel. 
Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick, who spoke with Hughes at the Wednesday morning opening session, agreed. He relayed personal stories about how his Multnomah Village neighbors in Southwest Portland are complaining to him about the density increases the City Council believes are required to help accommodate the additional 123,000 households expected by 2035. 
“A lot of people say, we like things just the way they are,” Novick said. 
As Novick explained it, he believes increased density will have multiple benefits for Multnomah Village, including better transit service and the kind of full-service grocery store it now lacks, all supported by the critical mass of people that will be reached over the next 20 years. But Novick conceded that a lot of the people he talks to aren’t buying it.

Novick said to achieve the city’s climate change goals, far more people will need to rely on alternative transportation in the future. He said that by 2045, the number of residents routinely driving their own cars must be cut by more than half, from the current 57 percent to just 25 percent.
Hughes said Metro must do more to persuade people to live closer to where they work, a change he said is necessary to achieve a better jobs/housing balance. 
I don’t get it,” Hughes said of people who commute long distances — before admitting he lives in Hillsboro but works at the Metro headquarters building in inner Northeast Portland.
  • I have been to many meeting where Steve Novick was present.  He did not take alternative transportation.  
  • Tom Hughes admonition for people to live where they work is ridiculous.  Central Planners live by different rules than they make for the rest of us.  They just don't "get" why we don't like them.
  • Novick is dismayed that his neighbors like their neighborhood just the way it is.  Novick must like it too, but he probably won't move to a mid-rise apartment with scant parking - the kind he thinks will be a benefit for Multnomah Village.
  • One way the COP can meet its Climate Change goals by 2045 is to change its goals to something that agrees with the way people actually live.  
Who ARE these people, and how do they get elected?    

Money doesn't grow on asphalt

But it takes money to make asphalt grow.

Most of the money for roads in cities, counties, and the state comes from gas taxes.  Gas tax money is down, but road miles traveled are up.  Cars are more efficient these days, so not as much gas is needed, but toads still need fixing.  Where should the money come from?

The source of new road funds is not the topic of this post, but it is an important part. Sometimes, no matter where money comes from the need outstrips the revenue available.

In the last few years, the Budget Committee has devoted money from the General Fund to supplement the street fund.  But is it enough?   According to the current Capital Improvement Project (CIP) list for the 5-year period from 2015-2016 to 2020-2012, no.

Unfunded Projects
Citywide Resurfacing, Crack Sealing, and Patching (Additional Capital Needed for a Citywide Pavement Condition Index rating of 70 through FY 2018-19)

The Pavement Condition Index is a rating for the condition of roadways from 0-100, 100 being the best.  Here's what the Director of Washington County Department of Land Use and Transportation  has to say about its PCI:

The Valley Times, August 4, 2016, by Geoff Pursinger
As gas tax dries up, Washington County roads worsen

The Washington County Department of Land Use and Transportation is charged with maintaining the county’s many roads and bridges, but has been unable to keep up with needs over the last few years, thanks to a budget shortfall that Andrew Singelakis, director of the department, blames on an influx of environmentally-friendly cars.
“We’re seeing a decline in our road conditions,” he said. “We see it on annual basis. It’s gradually declining.”
The money to maintain Washington County’s many roads, bridges, culverts, traffic signals and street lights largely comes from state and county gas taxes, but county officials say that the influx of hybrid and electric cars — which use little to no gasoline — have meant fewer gas tax dollars, making it difficult to keep up with the county’s aging, and expanding, road system. 
“There is a lack of awareness by the general public about what goes into it all,” Singelakis said.
“There is a backlog of maintenance needs that are not readily visible to the public,” Singelakis said. “There is a lot going on under the road that people can’t see. Just because it looks OK doesn’t mean that it is. It could easily fall into a state of disrepair.”
Cities and counties rate their roads on a scale of 1 to 100. Known as the pavement condition index, or PCI, counties are able to keep track of how well their roads are doing. 
Currently, Washington County rates their roads at about 77 percent. A fair number, Singelakis said, but that number is on the decline.
Once it gets down into the low 70s, you’re looking at roads needing to be completely reconstructed,” Singelakis said. “We don’t want it to get that low.” 
“We needed this addressed two years ago,” Singelakis added. “It’s an ongoing issue. The sooner this is fixed, the better.”
Lake Oswego's goal in 5 years is to get up to PCI of 70.  

Monday, August 8, 2016

WES wastes wealth. Why?


A little cognitive dissonance must go along with a bureaucrat's attachment to a plan that is failing or is rejected by the people it is supposed to serve.  But, when all is said and done, clinging to a bad plan, even throwing MORE money and resources at it, assures the bureaucrat of his or her job security.  It also builds a comfortable power base within the organization that will defend bad ideas.

It's not their city, it's not their money,  
it's ours.  


By Wendell Cox, July 28, 2016  Newgeography.com
Portland Tribune columnist (see "My View: WES is a Mess: Time to Pull the Plug") Bill MacKenzie took the occasion of a Tri-Met (transit agency for the Oregon side of the Portland, OR-WA metropolitan area) approval to purchase two used Budd Rail Diesel Cars (RDC) for the Wilsonville to Beaverton commuter rail line to call for its abandonment.  In addition to the $1.5 million purchase cost, $550,000 will be required for refurbishment.  When they are ready for service, they will surely be older than most Tri-Met employees, since the last Budd RDCs were built in the early 1960s.

He mocks the agency's general manager, Neil MacFarlane, who justified the purchase as necessary to accomodate future passenger growth: "Oh sure, plan for massive ridership growth,"  MacKenzie scoffs. He continues,  "In early 2009, TriMet predicted WES would have 2,400 daily riders its first year of operations and 3,000 by 2020.  In 2015, the line carried fewer than 1,900 riders each weekday, and its cost per boarding was more than four times that of buses (not counting capital costs)."

He concluded that: "Even if WES reaches 3,000 average daily boardings, operating costs per boarding ride will remain much higher than for buses and MAX. The fact is, WES is a train wreck. It’s time to shut it down."

Monday, August 1, 2016

New (old) geography blog

Sometimes I think I should have been a geographer.  I found a term paper I wrote in 1973 and it was all about land use and demographics, so I know I have been thinking about and studying this stuff for decades.

But I chose an artistic occupation, so it is no surprise that I am attracted to great graphics regarding geographic (physical and cultural) subjects.  Here is a great website for those of you who think the same way, or anyone who likes to see information represented in graphic form.

This website hasn't been added to since 2014, but there are several years of stunning and just plain interesting posts to dig through.  Other sites are mentioned within the blog for those interested in following up on ideas.


This page has the images below:

The population of the United States.

States represented as they would look if they all had equal populations - about 40 million, roughly 
the same as California.  

World map using descriptive Van Gogh paintings to represent countries.

As Seattle goes

The "U" Word  


Just like Portland, Seattle looks to its single-family neighborhoods to pick up the burden of the city's housing needs.  This movement is nation-wide: it is called "The Missing Middle."  The planning movement seeks to interject multifamily housing into single-family neighborhoods with duplexes, tri-plexes, row houses, cluster developments and other low and medium-density housing types.

Neighborhoods are fighting back, as part of the city's planning process.  He claims the groups are mainly made up of older, white homeowners, and not inclusive enough, even though the groups are open to everyone.  This constituency also happens to be the main opposition to upzoning in low-density residential areas.  Ridding the city of this planning obstruction will open the process to more multifamily development without the bother of organized citizen backlash.  The City Council will make a decision on upzoning soon.
dump neighborhood associations and in a stunning move this summer, Seattle Mayor Murray announced his plan to

When when faced with criticisms of increased density, Lake Oswego planners and some politicians respond proudly that they haven't upzoned SFR neighborhoods.  Is there a "yet" implied at the end of the thought?  Otherwise, why bring it up?  Even though LO has plenty of capacity for housing density along major corridors in the city, I feel in my bones there is another shoe about to fall within our neighborhoods - just a bit for now.  I hope I'm wrong.

Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2016 (Excerpts)
Cities Struggle to Add Upscale Housing While Maintaining Diversity
Packing new development into existing neighborhoods vexes locals

Cities from Seat­tle to Chicago to Wash­ing­ton and
New York are strug­gling to crack the ul­ti­mate uraban code: How to squeeze in ever more well-off peo­ple with­out dri­ving out the less af­flu­ent?

As ur­ban pop­u­la­tions near a new apex, city plan­ners are rais­ing the ire of many lo­cals with pro­posals to al­low de­vel­op­ers to pack more hous­ing into ex­ist­ing neigh­bor­hoods, a process called up­zon­ing, if they pay up to pro­tect or add op­tions for lower-in­come res­i­dents.

The push to add density with­out sac­ri­fic­ing di­ver­sity comes as an in­flux of pro­fes­sion­als are dri­ving up prices and rents in many cities, a force ex­pected to in­ten­sify in com­ing years. The is­sue has become more se­vere as large num­bers of mil­len­nials, push­ing off mar­riage and chil­dren, es­chew subur­ban liv­ing for amenity-rich ur­ban ar­eas.

The prob­lem has been par­tic­u­larly acute in Seat­tle, which is gear­ing up to ab­sorb at least 6,000 new res­i­dents a year for the next 20 years. The av­er­age rent for a one-bed­room apart­ment has shot up 29% in the last five years, ac­cord­ing to the city.

In re­sponse, Mayor Ed Mur­ray in late 2014 cre­ated a com­mit­tee made up of for-profit de­vel­op­ers, afford­able-hous­ing ad­vocates and neigh­bor­hood ac­tivists. The group proposed a “grand bar­gain” that would al­low de­vel­opers to build more densely in ex­change for af­ford­able hous­ing.

The mayor ini­tially sup­ported a plan to open the nearly two-thirds of the city’s neigh­bor­hoods zoned ex­clu­sively for sin­gle-fam­ily homes, many of which are out­side the city cen­ter, to ac­com­modate a wider range of hous­ing op­tions, like flats, du­plexes and triplexes.

But stiff op­po­si­tion from res­i­dents forced the mayor to fo­cus on up­zoning pro­pos­als in the city center. New com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ments and mul­ti-fam­ily res­i­den­tial projects can ex­ceed cur­rent zoning restric­tions on how big and tall they can be if de­vel­opers set aside a por­tion for af­ford­able hous­ing or pay the city to build af­ford­able units off site.

Seat­tle’s City Coun­cil has ap­proved com­mer­cial up­zon­ing and is ex­pected to vote on a frame­work for sim­i­lar moves in res­i­dential ar­eas later this summer.

But find­ing the right mix of growth and af­ford-abil­ity has pre­sented chal­lenges, with de­bates around up­zon­ing turn­ing in­tensely po­lit­i­cal and pit­ting de­vel­op­ers, neigh-bor­hood ac­tivists and af­ford­able-hous­ing ad­vo-cates against one an­other.

“What­ever you do with re­zon­ing you are in­vari­ably step­ping on some­body’s foot, or block­ing their light or tak­ing their air,” said Ben­jamin Dulchin, ex­ec­utive di­rec­tor of the As­so­ci­ation of Neighborhood Hous­ing and De­vel­op­ment, an af­ford­able-hous­ing ad­vo­cacy or­ga­ni­za­tion in New York City.

“A lot of the strug­gle in New York City was, ‘af­fordble for whom?’” Mr. Dulchin said. “Is it technically af­ford­able or is this af­ford­able for me?”

Monday, July 25, 2016

What Lake Oswegans are thinking

What's on your mind? 

From Nextdoor

Why is it so difficult for these invaluable trees to be protected as part of the initial purchase and designed around rather than cut down? 

This destruction of significant old growth trees to make way for supersized homes crammed onto every square inch is shortsighted and heartbreaking in our neighborhoods. 

If this is a concern, please let the project's City Planner, Evan Fransted, efransted@ci.oswego.or.us, know your thoughts. He said all comments are taken into consideration as this application is reviewed: 
This is not only about this one invaluable century oak--it's letting the City know there are residents out here who care about this trend.

The amount of apparently-careless destruction happening in the area to cram in more houses *is* a bit horrifying, I have to agree.

We moved to Lake *Grove*, not Lake *Another-Boring-Flat-Field-Filled-With-McMansions-and-Paving-Like-Anywhere-In-California*

We recently moved here from Eastmoreland, where it has been a huge problem, and this kind of thing is so difficult to stop once it's started. Lot splitting, destruction of charming and historic homes, building of huge McMansions, beautiful trees getting cut down--all can lead to the degradation of beautiful neighborhoods. Email the city planner now!
Destruction of neighborhoods
Destruction of trees
Destruction of the character of our town
Increased density
Look-alike McMansions crowded onto smaller lots
Losing what we value about Lake Oswego


Friday, July 22, 2016

Mayoral race gone Quackers

This week there is a Citizens View column by Kent Studebaker titled, "Bugs, Daffy, and the race for mayor" and a Letter to the Editor by Carol Riggs titled "Positive Energy". I couldn't help but notice numerous similarities in the pieces, pulling together what I assume to be a coordinated theme for the campaign - at least for this week.

I expect similar themes to be revealed in the coming weeks and months' right up to Election Day.  There are suggestions that the string of publications favoring Kent are orchestrated by political strategist, Elaine Franklin, and although the rumor seems plausible, we haven't been able to peek behind that curtain to confirm it.

I may be daffy, but this has me buggy.

Very little has been written about or by the candidates so far except the Review announcements of candidacy, an opinion piece by Dave Berg, a couple by Studebaker, and a series of weekly letters supporting Kent
Below are quotes from this week's articles.  Studebaker's words are in red, and Riggs' are in blue.  See what you think.  Read the entire pieces on the LO Review website in the Opinion section.


My friends comment that I need to react more. That’s not my style...
Quietly and without pomp, Kent Studebaker has led our little city.

... a first-rate city needs first-rate infrastructure in order to attract new taxpaying residents and businesses to support our schools.
His vision of a lively downtown with the North Anchor project will attract new business dollars and a tax base to support our schools.

Prioritizing infrastructure, police, fire and operations may sound boring, but we still generously supported parks and the arts and set aside $400,000 for bikeways and pathways without raising taxes.
prioritizing infrastructure, police, fire, parks, the arts and bike pathswithout raising our taxes.

... and put this city in a position to go forward into a great future.  Lake Oswego is headed toward a very bright future. 
...who was also very excited about the future our city was taking. 

I look forward to four more years...
I look forward to the next four years....

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Quote: Freedom and Obligation

Freedom and Obligation 
2016 Commencement Address
Clarence Thomas 
Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States
May 14, 2016

"Likewise, if we continue to consume the benefits of a free society without replenishing or nourishing that society, we will eventually deplete that as well.  If we are content to let others do the work of replenishing and defending liberty while we consume the benefits, we will someday run out of other people's willingness to sacrifice - or even out of courageous people willing to make the sacrifice."  
"Liberty is an antecedent of government, not a benefit from government." 

Stormwater hardships predicted

From the July 2016 issue of the HBA Home Building News:  (HBApdx.org)

Around the Region
Local government building and development issues update

Lake Oswego Stormwater and Permitting Process Being Reviewed

The Home Builders Association recently met with City Councilor and member Skip O'Neil to address stormwater regulations and other permitting issues in Lake Oswego that are creating hardships, delays and excess costs on homes being built and remodeled.  At this stage, plans have become stagnant, with the city not moving forward to address the issue.  The Home Builders Association is working to establish relationships to help find a resolution to the City's drainage problems that does not place an added cost on residents and builders.  

X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X 

Good luck on those resolutions.  Even if the City magically came up with the money and the means to create a city-wide stormwater conveyance system, on-site stormwater "facilities" are the new standards for stormwater control.  EPA and DEQ rules would most likely not allow the City to avoid lot-by-lot drainage systems because this would be considered "backsliding" on environmental standards.  These systems, the ponds, dry wells, and swales, are all geo-engineered, GPS-tagged, recorded, documented and tracked as EPA facilities.  

Recall that the Engineering Department first proposed 200 sf of new impervious improvements or simple re-roofing as the trigger for requiring on-site stormwater facilities, where prior standards were 3,000 sf.  Even that was a lower standard than necessary - the DEQ/County threshold was, and still is, 5,000 sf.  After some vocal criticism, the final threshold was approved at 1,000 sf.  

The entire City Council approved the 1,000 sf threshold plan.  So did the HBA in a letter to the 
Council.  I assume they came to this number as a "compromise" that was somewhere between the most and least restrictive options.  Who sets the parameters, and why doesn't the council demand more?  Are these bodies now seeing the damage they bought into?  They were warned, but now express dismay about what their positions mean.  

Their buyer's remorse doesn't help homeowners much.

From Exhibit G6:  Letter from HBA Metropolitan Portland, City Council Public Hearing (Letter written by Jon Kloor 11/23/15)

"Notably, I applaud that the City has chosen to increase the minimum review size on small projects from 200 square feet to 500 square feet; put in place a process in which smaller project stormwater review applies only to new impervious areas, and for adding tools to the manual to streamline the process for smaller projects. However, I would respectfully ask that the Planning Commission consider further increasing the minimum review size from 500 square feet to 1,000 square feet. By increasing the minimum review size to 1,000 square feet, the City would be adopting standards in line with many of the surrounding jurisdictions, as well as save home owners thousands of dollars in compliance costs associated with a home remodel.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Assessing the "need to know"

Your Property

  • Is there an expectation of privacy* in one's private* property? 
  • Are there laws that protect a homeowner's (or renter) rights of privacy and protect against unwarranted trespass?
  • What information is necessary for the city to know?
This is about a citizen's right to private property and privacy, but the subject centers around the Tree Code.

privacy (n.) Look up privacy at Dictionary.com
1590s, "a private matter, a secret;" c. 1600 as "seclusion," from private (adj.) + -cy. Meaning "state of freedom from intrusion" is from 1814. Earlier was privatie (late 14c. as "secret, mystery;" c. 1400 as "a secret, secret deed; solitude, privacy"), from Old French privauté

There is perhaps no other code in the city that controls a homeowner, their property, and their financial and personal well-being more so than the Tree Code.  It is no surprise that the Tree Code is code citizens hate most.  One person I talked to about how to get rid of a (invasive) holly tree called the city a dictatorship.  She is not alone.  People within earshot agreed - some wanted to move based on the unnatural interest in their property, and the over-reaching regulatory environment they get from the city - especially the tree code.

Question: Is the information the city is asking for "reasonably required" to get a tree removal permit?  (NO!)  Does the information cross the line to invade our privacy?  (YES!)  Can the city use the information in any way to help search for violations of the tree code or somehow collect data on your trees or property?  (MAYBE)

All Tree Permit Applications require a site plan of your property.  The applicant draws the footprint of the house and other buildings on the lot, writes the address, and shows the right of way, streams and wetlands, lake, etc.  The applicant must then identity: "Location, Diameter, Size and Type of Trees";  then: Mark trees to be removed with a dark "X";  lastly, give information on proposed replacement trees.  See LO's example of a site plan below.

The wording of the directions is unclear about which trees are to be identified, located and labeled.  It just says "trees", not "all trees", or "all trees over 6" DBH".  One might assume the wording includes just the trees to be removed, but the example site plan shows multiple trees on it with only 2 marked with an "X".  In drafting, pictures count as legal documents just as words do.  What is the intent of this directive?  How much information is reasonably necessary?

I asked a planner who deals with tree permits why all trees on a lot needed to be identified.  She said, "Oh, no one does that!"  Great!   If some people aren't doing it, and their permits are approved, this should be good enough for everyone else.  Why string the rest of us along with a bogus or badly written application?  

The Application diagram and wording need to clarify that only trees identified in the tree permit should be on the site plan.  
  The Application Form has not changed, so here we are.  Why would the city like to know what trees are in your yard?  Just curious, or what?   There is NO need to locate and label every tree, and lots of people don't, so it's time to change the Application for Tree Removal: Combine both of the tree  labling requirements into a single directive for trees being cut only.  (This counts as Change #2; Change #1 is dropping the waiver.)