Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Monday, September 26, 2016

TONIGHT: Attend one, record the others

MAYORAL DEBATE TONIGHT

One of two mayoral candidate debates is scheduled for tonight.  Unfortunately, the Clinton/Trump debate will air at the same time.  For those interested in both debates, record the national debate on TV, and attend the mayoral debate at the Lakewood Center.

Football games are another story.  They can also be taped, but not very exciting to watch after the fact.

The unfortunate timing blows my ideal schedule, but I have to prioritize, so the choice is easy (just not made without a lot of grumbling!).

For those who are looking for the easy way out, the Lake Oswego Review has promised that videos of the debates will be available on their websites.  I would hate to see the debates (for mayor and city council) be held in an empty room while citizens waited for the video online.  What happens in person make a difference with the energy and course of live performances, so attendance by a wide portion of the population is important.

See you tonight!

MONDAY, SEPT. 26: A forum for candidates running for Mayor (Budget Committee Chairman Dave Berg, City Councilor Jon Gustafson and incumbent Mayor Kent Studebaker).

The forum will take place in the Community Meeting Room at the Lakewood Center for the Arts, 368 S. State St., scheduled from 6-7:30 p.m., and will be recorded and available for viewing later at lakeoswegoreview.com.

Note:  the Lake Oswego Review is sponsoring a debate for City Council candidates on October 3 at the same time and place as above.  


And on October 2nd!

The Lake Oswego Citizens Action League - LOCAL - has scheduled a debate for City Council and mayoral candidates at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 2, at Lake Oswego High School (2501 Country Club Road). All but Gustafson are expected to attend. The format will feature a moderator and three community members who will ask questions; attendees will also be able to submit questions at the event.

And another...  

The Chamber of Commerce, a special interest group, is holding its own mayoral debate at a breakfast meeting in September.  They are opening the meeting to the public at a cost of $35 per person.

USC is fine with any group doing whatever it wants, allowing any guests it wants, and charging any fees it wants.  And while this may be considered doing a public service in a loose sense of the term, it caters to only those who can afford its fees and is still a private organization with self-interests that do not prioritize the general welfare of the public.  Consider the purpose of the Chamber of Commerce members (to maximize their businesses) and how their objectives might jive with yours.  

This group differs from LOCAL which is a non-partisan group of local citizens who are interested in preserving a high quality of life in Lake Oswego.  Membership is free and open to anyone, donations are welcome, and the forum is free and open to all.  See the LOCAL website for more information:  locitizens.com.   


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Keep LO Safe

Be vigilant and proactive

Maybe homelessness and vagrancy, drug use and harassment isn't happening in your neighborhood - yet - but let's make sure this problem doesn't happen anywhere in Lake Oswego.

Municipal Codes and policies on dealing with the homeless and criminal behavior need to be up to date and enforced.  LO should not become another magnet for vagrants spilling over from our very lax big-city neighbor to the north.  Prevention is better than a cure.

Lake Oswego Review, September 22, 2016
Police Log

9/12/16 2:30 p.m. A building owner said people are sleeping behind his property and leaving food and needles behind. 

9/13/16 3:54 p.m. Two homeless women were holding up signs asking for help at the Safeway on Avenue A.

9/14/16 4:03 p.m. Neighbors asked police to remove a man who was attempting to live on a stairwell.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Pretend Everything's Really Swell

PERS
But Oh My, Beware!
BOMB

The City has a time bomb ticking.  Public Employee Retirement System costs are growing.  According to The Oregonian, disaster isn't in the future, it is now.

Which candidates for mayor and city council are willing to face this issue head on instead of hiding from reality with feel-good propaganda, or concerned but not too worried reassurances.  Why doesn't the City Manager educate the Council about the impending costs and what they will do to the budget?

Does Employee Unions' support have anything to do with it?  I'm open to other suggestions here.

The Oregonian, September 21, 2016. By Ted Sickinger 
'This is becoming a moral issue':  Officials face truth behind Oregon's soaring pension costs

The numbers are bleak. Oregon's pension system owes billions of dollars more to retirees than it has, and the last major attempt to fix the problem was shot down in courts.

This month, cities, school districts and others will find out how much more they'll pay to help prop up the system. Higher pension costs could come at the expense of funding for other needs, including social services, infrastructure investments and education programs.

Experts openly acknowledged they're understating the magnitude of Oregon's problemThey're relying on optimistic assumptions about investment returns. And they're holding down required pension payments below what's needed to keep pace with the debt, to avoid eviscerating school and government budgets across Oregon.

"We're beyond crisis," Katy Durant, chair of the Oregon Investment Council, said in an interview after last week's meeting. "We should have been addressing this 20 years ago and it's just been building. It's a little bit like a Ponzi scheme. Sooner or later it's going to catch up with you."

"This problem is not going away," said John Thomas, a Eugene benefits consultant who chairs the pension system's board. "It is what it is. The math is the math...It's getting to a point now that it's difficult for people to accept what these numbers are."   

As it stands, pension payments cost government agencies and school districts across the state about $2 billion every two years, and they're panicking about the $885 million, or 44 percent jump, in required payments over the next two years.

That's just next biennium," PERS Director Steve Rodeman, said at the meeting. "There's going to be one just like that in the next biennium and very similar to that, under almost any scenario, in the one after that." 


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The power behind the power: Political influence at work in Lake Oswego

Note:  This post is based on both fact and conjecture.  Except for one "Hello," during the Wizer Block controversy (she was employed by developer Patrick Kessi at the time), I have never met or spoken to Elaine Franklin.  Opinions expressed here are based on research (see links) and information from local sources.  

Links below reference articles in the Oregonian, Los Angeles Times, Philladelphia Inquirer, New York Times, City of Lake Oswego website, and St. John's Review.  Research includes other government and media websites.  

"She's been called the Human Bulldozer"
-- Mary Otto, The Philidelphia Inquirer 


From what I've heard, she doesn't like to be talked about.  Photos of her are difficult to find.  She is a background kind of person, doing her work out of the public eye.

Dunthorp resident, Elaine Franklin, is a political strategist with experience working in the tough political environment of Washington DC. She worked for former Republican Senator Bob Packwood during his last year in office when he was mired in a scandal that ended his political career.  Franklin marrried Packwood following his 1995 exit from office.  A look at Packwood's personal diaries from that period tells about her time working with him.

During the decades following their DC tenure, Franklin has turned her political acumen to more local   campaigns, including in Lake Oswego.  She worked for Patrick Kessi as his spokesperson for the large development proposed (now under construction) for the Wizer block, and has continued to work for Kessi on his other projects.  Franklin is now assisting Kent Studebaker in his run for mayor, and possibly other candidates for city council.  Why?  Personal interest?  Financial gain?  Power and influence with top people from government and industry?  All three, or something else?

Why am I writing a post about Elaine Franklin?  Clearly she is and has been a part of local political campaigns and involved in issues directly related to Lake Oswego's growth and development.  Her background as a Washington DC political insider becomes relevant with regards to her power and influence and operating methods.  And because political operatives generally do their work out of the limelight, it is important for Lake Oswegans to know about the activities and motivations of people influencing the city.

This election will determine the future development and operations of the city; Much is at stake.  In 2012 and 2014, Franklin was involved in LO campaigns for mayor and 3 city councilors.  If rumors are true (we will not know about her in-kind assistance for some campaigns until near the end of the campaigns or until after the election), she will have potentially assisted in the election of 5 of 7 council members!  This my friends, is a lot of power placed in one individual.  Add to that her involvement with developers, and we are possibly looking at a coordinated effort to influence more than ordinary city governance.

Why is this (or any) outsider so interested in Lake Oswego that she donates her valuable time and skills to see that certain people are elected?  What does she get out of it?  Are we looking at another political cabal/machine trying to take over OUR TOWN?  It sure feels like it.

*
The Philidelphia Inquirer, October 10, 1995. By Mary Otto
Elaine's idea was you impeach whoever you can impeach. Create the impression they are all spurned women, femi-nazis, sluts."
The New York Times, September 8, 1995
From the Packwood's Diaries:
He finished, [ deleted by Ethics Committee ] and I and Elaine and [ Senator X ] and the guy traveling with [ Senator X ] met for just 10 or 15 minutes. [ Senator X ] again promised $100,000 for party-building activities.

And what was said in the room would be enough to convict us all of something. He says, now, of course you know there can't be any legal connection between this money and Senator Packwood, but we know that it will be used for his benefit. [ deleted by Ethics Committee ] said, oh, yes.


God, there's Elaine and I sitting there. I think that's a felony, I'm not sure. This is an area of law I don't want to know. . . . March 27, 1993

Oregonian, January 10, 2014. By Jeff Mapes
Franklin, eight years younger, also remains active and continues to work on political campaigns.  Two years ago, she headed a citizens group that helped stop the proposed Portland-to-Lake-Oswego streetcar line that would have run through their neighborhood.

Portland Monthly, September 13, 2010. By Zach Dundas
It’s easy to understand Dunthorpeans’ alarm. The tracks run close to homes, sometimes splitting 
front walkways in two. Franklin—who boasts of her schoolgirl streetcar commute in her native England—argues the whole plan is misguided. “The project’s ridership and financing models rely on wishful thinking.” 

Those keeping score like to point out the director of LO’s economic and capital development department, Brant Williams, and the principals of Williams/Dame & White (no relation) all worked on Portland’s South Waterfront. “The circus is just moving south,” Bergstein chimes. Or as Franklin puts it, “If you wanted to be Machiavellian about it, why does cute little upper-middle-class Lake Oswego get a cute little streetcar while other parts of the metro area don’t get their basic transit needs met?”

Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency, Block 137 Development (Wizer Block) Contacts:
General comments and concerns.     Elaine Franklin.      (503) 819-2647.    elainefranklin@aol.com
Questions from media.                      Elaine Franklin.      (503) 819-2647.    elainefranklin@aol.com

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

Excerpts:
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?

JOB SECURITY.

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.  

PORTLAND COLUMNIST CALLS FOR ABANDONMENT OF THE WES COMMUTER RAIL LINE 

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.

geographer-at-large.blogspot.com

This page has the images below:
geographer-at-large.blogspot.com/2012_12_01_archive.html


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  

Upzone

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?”