Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Changing Plans for the East End - read me

The first well-defined plan for the East End Redevelopment Area managed by LORA (the City Council acting as the Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency) was The East End Redevelopment Plan in 1986.  The plan defined a 4-block shopping district, an entertainment district, high density and public services districts, a transit interchange and a convenience shopping area.

The Lake Oswego Design Plan - A Guidebook for Development of the East End, was developed in 1988 to show a map and give a visual context for what was planned in downtown.  Page 50, "Typical A Avenue 'Boulevard' Treatment" image shows no building over 3 stories high mixed in with some that are 1 and 2 stories in height.  See also pages 51, 53, 57, 59 and 62.   Page 27, Section 4.3 describes the desired multifamily housing:  "2- and 3-story configuration with a mid-rise component being highly desirable".  (Diagram shows a 4-story building, but text does not support it.  All other images have a 3-story design).  Character:  "Housing should have a random village scale combining units into assemblages that give a finer scale and texture than commercial buildings".  The images are more what citizens are expecting - more human, small town scale, making use of the alleys as alleys, not covering them up with massive development.   Section 2.15 - Variety and Vitality: "Establishing a vital identity for the core area of Lake Oswego does not require adopting an artificial 'theme' to impose on new and existing buildings."  I don't agree with everything the plan says, but enough to make me a fan.  This plan sees LO for what it is, not as an artificial creation from someone who envisions something different than Lake Oswego.   

The Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency East End Redevelopment Plan was updated in 2004  and shows many projects that have already been built.  Project J on page 25 shows the Wizer Block, Block 137.  Amendment 16 was added in December of 2012, effective January 17, 2013.  This Amendment created the new Foothills Urban Renewal District.  On Feburary 5, 2013, Amendment 17 repealed Amendment 16 and the Foothills URD was dissolved.

Another document that is important to the implementation of the Plan is the East End Project Priorities list that is on the EERP city website.  (Departments > LORA > East End District).  

Although many of the unfinished projects may never be completed or may take many years to do, they spell out a very different downtown than what most citizens realize or want. Here are just a few items that demonstrate some serious problems.  (In my opinion.)
  • For anyone interested in preserving affordable housing (the dictionary version of the word affordable), Project U spells out a plan for the existing modest (and newer) apartments on the block at 3rd and Evergreen to be purchased by the city and sold to a developer for new, high density housing.  This would not be affordable, nor would it be compatible with the existing residential neighborhood.  And our tax dollars would assist the developer in executing the plan.  
  • Project K requires the city to purchase the Safeway block and have a developer (or developers) use it for mixed uses.  Where would the residents in the high-density housing and surrounding neighborhoods buy food?  They would most likely have to get in their cars and shop outside the neighborhood - not exactly "sustainable".
  • Property for Project H, The North Anchor, was purchased last year by the last mayor and council and needs to be sold.  This is a top priority for the Redevelopment Agency.  This is a large block of land; it could be sold piecemeal or to one developer who would develop it as a mixed use retail, office or housing complex.  Other options are possible.  The size and mass of the buildings are not as constrained as most citizens who object to the Wizer Block will like unless codes to limit the size are approved or [public] Urban Renewal funds are cut off.  
These are documents everyone must study to understand where we were and where we are now, and to decide which version affords a higher quality of life.  


  1. What was proposed in 1988, may not be financially viable today nor consistent with Metro's imposed higher density growth requirement.
    Lake Oswego may no longer be in control of what happens here given the new Metro "requirements".
    What can be done by citizens to remove Project U and K from the "plan" as it exists?
    Is it time to have the City "disband" LORA?

  2. Gerry, heartily endorse ending LORA as soon as possible.
    As a new Citizens Budget Committee member you are, of course, also a LORA Budget Committee member.
    Please Gerry investigate the possibility of terminating this money-sucking entity ASAP. It is on it's second life. It was originally scheduled to end after 20 years; and, was quietly renewed..