Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Friday, November 29, 2013

Do single-family homes threaten the planet?

Do single-family homes threaten the planet?

Climate crusaders want to phase out the American 

dream of a house and yard

By Randal O'Toole and Damien Schiff
The Washington Times
November 19, 2013

"A plan to squeeze most residents of the San Francisco Bay Area into multifamily housing offers a test case of whether land-use bureaucracies nationwide, encouraged by the Obama administration, should be allowed to transform American lifestyles under the pretext of combating climate change.

Currently, 56 percent of households in the nine-county Bay Area live in single-family homes. That number would drop to 48 percent by 2030, under a high-density development blueprint called Plan Bay Area, recently enacted by the Association of Bay Area Governments and the region’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Plan Bay Area has already drawn several legal challenges, and the debate could spread nationwide if, as may happen, it becomes a model for regulators in other parts of the country."

Randal O’Toole is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute and author of “American Nightmare: How Government Undermines the Dream of Homeownership” (Cato Institute, 2012). Damien Schiff is a principal lawyer with Pacific Legal Foundation. He represents Bay Area Citizens in a lawsuit challenging Plan Bay Area.

THIS IS IMPORTANT TO READ TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IS HAPPENING TO LAKE OSWEGO AND SUBURBS EVERYWHERE!  This is damning commentary about how Central Planners are seeking ultra-control over individual freedoms and "decreeing radical lifestyle changes" for the masses.  

Saving our village isn't enough.

Food for thought

Here is a post-Thanksgiving tidbit to chew on.  This is a project in Portland that will pencil out but has a radically different profile and intent than has been the norm in the region recently.  Do we have to "stack-and-pack", or can we demand something better?

Just imagine.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Happy Thanksgiving!
Thankful for all things 
Up Sucker Creek

Also check out the GOOGLE DOODLES  for today!  

Uh-Oh. Junior is grounded while Mom & Dad talk

The Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) is deciding what to do with rebellious Damascus - the little town that dared to defy the rules. Metro couldn't handle Damascus' independent streak, so the problem was handed to the state for enforcement.  Now LCDC has to do something to demonstrate they mean what they say.

In an August (19, updated on 20th) Oregonian article, the LCDC was frustrated because there was little they could do to punish Damascus.

"The Land Conservation and Development Commission told Damascus officials that if they don't pass a comprehensive plan by Aug. 31, the city will be in trouble. It's unlikely the city will pass a plan anytime soon, but the state agency can't really do much about it.

The Commission will meet Friday, Sept. 27, in Salem to discuss how it will punish Damascus. By law, it has only three options: withhold state tax revenues, limit building permits or take the city to court.
The city doesn't issue building permits and, because of its own city charter, can't spend state-shared revenues.

"I've been very frustrated. It's not much of an enforcement," said Jennifer Donnelly, the regional representative for the Department of Land Conservation and Development."

Now the State needs to figure out what to do with Damascus.  With limited options, what punishment will LCDC come up with, and how will Damascus respond?

The two interesting things about this story are:
1).   If an entity is willing to forego the money they get from the higher-ups, it is very hard to influence them on what to do.
2).   The citizens of Damascus vote on their Comprehensive Plans.  Now that the voters have decided to keep Damascus an incorporated city, the council has created several comp plans for the citizens to look at and vote on.

Money controls just about everything.  Once someone (or a city) becomes accustomed to receiving money from a source, they become dependent on it and will do just about anything to keep the supply coming, no matter how outrageous or absurd the demands are.  The state takes our money, and in order to get it back, the city has to spend money just to ask for it,  And then the city has to use more of our money to do whatever it is their way.  Of course, we pay for all of theCentral Planners who make up the rules too - kind of like signing our own death warrant. That's how top-down control works.

Direct Democracy can get messy, but it does sound intriguing -- that all citizens are involved rather than the few who are knowledgable about land use or those who have an agenda.  And the elected officials would have to explain why they favored one thing over another.  How many other cities vote  every 10 - 20 years to determine how they want their city to evolve?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Commenting on Up Sucker Creek

I published my ground rules back in September, so it is likely many people have never seen them. It's a good time for a review.  I have left the comment section open to encourage debate and sharing of information.  That is the way I'd like to leave it, so here are the original ground rules with new stuff in blue.

Please add a screen name.  You do not need to use your real name, but please be consistent about using the same name with all your posts.  
If you have been using Anon. and want to switch to a screen name like MickeyTheRat, then keep that name and be consistent so people can follow your comments.  Screen names are preferred and are a lot more fun than having everyone be "Anonymous!"   

Rules on comments are to use common sense.  If you don't know what that is, you might find your comments deleted.  I could give you a list of rules, but thinking adults shouldn't need them.  

I guess I have to state some specifics after all.  (Sigh.)  I don't allow personal attacks, name-calling, innuendo, rumors, etc..  This blog is for debate, sharing information or asking issue-related questions.  Think first - 

  • Can I back up my statement with facts?  
  • Is the name of the person important to my position (sometimes the answer will be yes) and is it related to the issue at hand?
  • Do I in good conscience know something but need confirmation?  Then ask the readers for help confirming your information.  
  • Can I just pose a question?  Yes!  No one knows everything and if one person doesn't know something, guaranteed there are others that need answers too.  No question too dumb - it's complicated stuff!

One last thing - I like hearing what others have to offer on a subject.  I already know what I think, so if you have something to add to the discussion, please do so.

If you are making a statement, make sure it is factual and that you can back it up.
Well reasoned opinions are welcome too.
If you have ideas or information to pass on, please email me at:  upsuckercreek@gmail.com


Open your wallets and let your plants die

Yup.  You guessed it.  More trouble ahead for the LOTWP (Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership).   And trouble usually means one thing - $$$$$$$ - higher water rates.

Here's the deal - there was only ONE bid for the horizontal drilling under Oswego Lake at the
East end of the lake (see the map above).  Other drilling contractors experienced with this type of work are busy doing fracking and don't have the time or interest to take on a municipal job.  The sole bidder came in with a bid that was DOUBLE the estimated cost of $20 million bringing the total cost of the drilling to $40 million instead.  If water rates soar even more, how willing will Tigard be to purchase surplus water from Lake Oswego?  The sale of more water to Tigard was to offset rate increases for LO residents and businesses.

From the LOCAL website:
Did you know that the Lake Oswego/Tigard water project was originally estimated in 2006 to cost $135,000,000 and the City of Lake Oswego’s share was to be 43% or $58,000,000. 

That the current estimate is now $240,000,000 to $249,000,000 and that the City of Lake Oswego’s share could be as high as $117,300,000.     Read more...

The only other option it to trench the water pipe around the lake.  This is a 4' diameter pipe!  The trench will be about 8' across and about as deep, depending on slope and engineering things I know nothing about.  Presumably this trench would take a southerly route along South Shore Blvd. (or?) and the road would have to be repaved when the work was done.

This is new information, so don't expect any answers about what is going to happen next - just enjoy your water while it is only very expensive.  Take a look at your water/sewer/street maintenance bill to see how much is for water, and what part of that are fixed fees and how much is for water usage.

PC votes unanimously on WEB zoning

The Planning Commission held a public hearing on Monday  (11/25) on the request by Kensington Group for a zone change for the WEB Building.  The Kensington Group have made an offer on the property with the provision that the zone be changed from OC/R-3 (Office Commercial / Residential Mid-to High Density) to GC (General Commercial).  The new zoning would allow the owners greater latitude about how the property is used.

Unfortunately, the buyers have not revealed what they want to do with the property and the planning department made no suggestions for conditions on the recommended approval.  Citizens testified about the potential impacts to nearby residential neighborhoods, again, without knowing what might be built.

Even though the City Council wants to sell the WEB property, withiut more information on which to make a determination, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to reject the zone change.

The applicant may appeal the decision to the City Council or make changes and come back to the Planning Commission and then on to the City Council for a final hearing.  We will have to wait to see what the next move will be.

ADDENDUM:  A reader sent in an important and thoughtful comment that might be missed so I am putting it on the main page. 

Let us remember the Applicant is the City of Lake Oswego aka the Council.

Also, the zone change requested by the Council-without debate and as a consent agenda item-provides MORE than simply greater latitude in how the property is used aka allowable uses.

The current 14 acre site with a 89,000 square foot two story building, 300 parking spaces, acres of wetlands and tree groves has lot coverage of 7%.

A change to a General Commercial zone would allow lot coverage of 50%.

And, as we have experienced in the Wizer's application, today, developers seek to utilize the maximums provided by Code.

A question: Was the Council aware of the anticipated impact of such a zone change on the surrounding community; and, if so did they care?

My response:  If the Applicant is the City, do they appeal to themselves or is the Planning Commission the end of the road?  Will the developers walk, or can the City amend the application?  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Does anyone know anything about this?

I found this while surfing the web last night.  Have any readers seen or heard about these condos? The location would be on D Ave. just above the Kaady Car Wash on the north end of State Street.

Is this a viable project, or is this an old design that has been abandoned?  Comments please!

P.S. I love the design, but it is not in the restrictive "Lake Oswego Style."  Who decides how policies and codes are interpreted and ultimately approved ?

Lake Oswego D-Avenue
Myhre Group Architects was responsible for the architectural design, interior design, and planning entitlements for this market-rate condominium community in Lake Oswego, Oregon. The building is four stories in height over a daylit basement parking structure, and is constructed of post-tensioned concrete slab and light-gauge steel framing. The design includes a visitor drop-off area, exterior residential plazas, many LEED elements, and a total of 24 dwelling units. The project contains a total of 57,345 square feet and is located on a 14,000-square-foot site edging the perimeter of Lake Oswego. This ideal location is nestled near the banks of the majestic Willamette River. The estimated total construction cost of the project is $13.6 million.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Wizer Block - The Players

The local paper is suddenly being flooded with letters to the editor from a very curious set of people.  I'm kidding - there's nothing curious about it.  They are the same people we have heard from before.  The drumbeat for high-density development and a streetcar to Portland is springing back to life and the supporters are emerging on cue.  Their response appears to be delayed, but happening all at once.  The appearance is that this is part of a coordinated campaign that dovetails with the Block 137 public relations / marketing website.  The players are back in form.  Are they worried?  Did they think people in this city didn't care or wouldn't notice?

Foothills Development   ---   Portland to Lake Oswego Streetcar   ---   Wizer Block Development 
What is it that brings these pieces together?  
Who are the players, and what are they saying?
  • W and K Development, developers for Evergreen Group LLC, investors for the development on Block 137.   
  • Patrick Kessi - Partner in W and K Development has been the public face of the company; developed a high-rise condo in the Pearl, will be building an apartment complex in St. John's.
  • Christie White - Consultant for Kessi's investment group.  White is an attorney and partner in Williams, Dame and White, the developers for the Foothills Development and advocate of the Portland to Lake Oswego Streetcar. 
  • Paul Graham - Owner of Graham's Book and Stationary; Owns property in the East End Redevelopment DistrictMember Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce; member of the Streetcar Citizen's Advisory Committee; supporter of the Portland to Lake Oswego Streetcar, the East End Redevelopment Plan and the Foothills District Plan.  
  • Robert Le Chavellier - Lawyer, Co-President of Buckley Law P.C.; Member and past President of the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce; supporter of the Portland to Lake Oswego Streetcar and Foothills Development. 
  • Elaine Howard - Principal, Elaine Howard Consulting LLC; Worked for Lake Oswego as a consultant for the Foothills District Plan.  
  • Roger Hennigan- Past city councilor, has since moved out of Lake Oswego; supported the streetcar and Foothills Development.
  • Chuck O'Leary - CEO of the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce
  • Mary Bosch - Lake Oswego resident and economic development consultant and planner; supports streetcar 
  • Ralph Tahran - Architect; Principal in OTAK (planning, engineering and design firm); member of Lake Oswego Urban Infill Task Force; Foothills Citizen Oversight Committee
  • Nick Tahran - Marketing, OTAK (planning, engineering and design firm)
  • Rob Fallow - West Linn resident; property owner in Foothills district; streetcar supporter

Planning Commission WEB Zoning Hearing TONIGHT

PC holds hearing on WEB re-zoning Monday 11/25
6:30 PM City Council Chambers

BRT vs Streetcar - Who gains and who loses?

In the Sunday Oregonian (11/24/13 pg. O4), the Commentary features opposite sides of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) vs Streetcar debate.

 John Charles, President of the Cascade Policy Institute presents his case for BRTs as being much lower cost to build and operate, more flexible and, faster than streetcars.  Charles compares Portland's streetcar system to the Los Angeles BRT system and with numbers and a description of the buses which concludes with an undeniable advantage for the BRT.  He says the LA "bus operates in general-purpose traffic lanes and achieves relatively high speeds by having stops spaced .75 miles apart, on average.  Also, the Metre Rapid buses have the technical capacity to shorten a red light or extend a green light at intersections to improve travel time."

At one SW Corridor Plan meeting I attended, attendees were given a handout that described the "Gold Standard" BRT systems as having dedicated travel lanes that would be able to secure the maximum federal dollars for construction.  And for Metro's obstruction of car travel?  Can you imagine Hwy. 99 with one lane in each direction reserved for buses only, and one lane in each direction left for cars?  BRTs might just be one answer for the region's congestion problems, but not at the sacrifice of automobile service.  Other hybrids and alternatives exist, so don't fall for the one size fits all story when you hear it - and you will.

Jim Mark, Chairman of Portland Streetcar Inc. and CEO of Melvin Mark Cos. (a real estate firm in based in downtown Portland) proclaims the streetcar to be the best solution to urban transportation.  It must be noted that Mr. Marks has a vested interest in the streetcar's success since it may benefit his firm's development projects.  He honestly tells us that streetcars "spur the growth of housing and businesses" and "make Portland the vibrant, livable city we have been working so hard to create for the last 40 years."  (I'd like to know who "we" is.)  Streetcars also "inspire developers to invest along the streetcar line."  Mark also admits that development "would not have happened at the scale it did without smart public-private partnerships*."

*Note: PPPs (Public-Private Partnerships) are shorthand for public subsidies to private, for-profit companies, usually within an urban renewal district.

Streetcars have always been about being a catalyst for development that  Central Planners want to see happen.  The fact that they do not meet revenue goals (or even come close to offsetting the cost of operations) is not important - it is our subsidy to the developers who will profit from the transit - and for the greater good of all.

Is anyone else tired of "vibrant" yet?

From the Metro Website:

June 13, 2013  2:30 PM

Bus rapid transit could meet region's transportation needs

"Regions need new ways to quickly and efficiently move commuters, and bus rapid transit is a competitive option for doing just that, according to a consultant giving a presentation at the Metro Regional Center on Tuesday.
Tim Bevan, a consultant for CH2M HILL and an expert on bus rapid transit, or BRT, talked about the ways BRT has been used around the world to serve transit riders. 
During his presentation, Bevan evaluated some existing BRT systems in the US, going over implementation strategies and what works well in different settings.
Bevan said BRT's advantages versus rail transit include flexibility of routes and lower cost. Dedicating a lane exclusively to buses and implementing an off-board ticketing system can streamline BRT service to closely mimic rail transit and reap similar benefits, Bevan said.
There are also techniques for incorporating BRT into existing streets, including designating some lanes as turn- or bus- only, or allowing parking in BRT lanes during off-peak hours."

Saturday, November 23, 2013

State of the Centers report 2011

Metro published a "State of the Centers Report" on all the designated Town Centers in the region.  Remember that in November, 2010, the Metro Council grappled with the fact that there may be too many Town Centers to fulfill the market demand for housing and transit.  (See the post, "The Market or Metro: When enough is too much".)

Compare more urban Town Centers to the suburban and outlying city Town Centers for population and other factors.  What surprises me is that the outlying centers, including Lake Grove, have very low population density and few amenities, yet this is where Metro wants to build "instant" town centers - compact development, medium- to high-density housing, employment, high capacity transit (light rail, streetcar, BRT -likely with dedicated lanes of traffic).  All for the Live! Work! Play! Way of life.  And count on any number of fingers how many Metro councilors or planners actually live where they plan.

From Metro:

"In 1995, with the support of the public and elected officials of the region, Metro adopted the 2040 Growth Concept as a vision to guide growth and development over the coming decades. The 2040 Growth Concept calls for maintaining the region's connections with nature, preserving existing neighborhoods, strengthening employment and industrial areas, and concentrating growth in designated centers and corridors. By adopting the 2040 Growth Concept, the region committed to create compact, vibrant communities and to protect the region's farm and forestland.

The 2040 Growth Concept designates 38 centers across the region (in addition to Downtown Portland) as the focus for redevelopment, multi-modal transportation and concentrations of households and employment. Since 1995, local governments have taken several actions to create vibrant centers, including amending their comprehensive plans, providing financial assistance and investing in essential public infrastructure."

Is anyone else sick of the word "vibrant" yet?

Karen Bowerman challenges Paul Savas

Lake Oswego Councilor Karen Bowerman runs against

Paul Savas for Clackamas County board seat

You heard it hear first!  Or not.  If you read the Oregonian, the story about Karen Bowerman challenging Paul Savas for a seat on the County Board of Commissioners was published on Friday, November 22 at 3:41 pm.  Good luck Karen!  But does that mean bad luck for LO?  

The announcement in the Oregonian came less than 2 hours after an article stating that an ad attacking Paul Savas' voting record was mailed to voters days before.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

City Council Public Hearing on Comp Plan Nears

Important meeting to attend regarding the comp plan.  The Council needs to hear your concers.  They are set to approve Parts 1and 2 and have precious little time to hear last minute thoughts.  To see the comp plan materials, do a search on the city's website and use the resolution numbers below (LU 13-0010  and  LU 13-0045).

City Council Meeting
Tuesday, December 3
6:30 PM

  1. Public Hearings
    •   Continued Deliberation on Comp Plan Update Part 1 (LU 130010), Resolution 1360, Preliminarily approving the Comp Plan Update Part 1
    •   Resolution 1367, Preliminarily approving the Comp Plan Update Part 2 (Community Health and Public Safety; Land Use Planning; Urbanization) (LU 130045

The Market or Metro: when enough is too much

This one's a bit old, but interesting considering Metro may have been thinking that the region had too many Town Centers.  But the idea that how a town grows (or not) should be so minutely manipulated by any government is absurd.  Government is good at making rules and making others follow them, but it is not good at business or understanding the market.  If it was, then Obamacare should be a roaring success!  With minimal regulation, the market works best.  Do Central Planners know what minimal is, or when enough is too much?

November 5, 2010  4:00 PM

Centers discussion centers in on substance

What should decide what communities are designated as town or regional centers – the Metro Council or the free market?
In a Thursday afternoon worksession, councilors grappled with the idea that the market might be getting saturated with too many town and regional centers, areas targeted for increased development and accompanying transportation improvements.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

PC holds hearing on WEB re-zoning Monday 11/25

From the Lake Oswego Review, 11/21/13

City Notes:

WEST END BUILDING — The Lake Oswego Planning Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposed rezoning of the city’s West End Building property, at 4101 Kruse Way.
The proposal stems from the city’s plan to sell the WEB for $16.5 million to a California-based investment company with offices in Sherwood. The sale is contingent on the city approving a zone change from office campus and high-density residential use to general commercial use by April 1.
The city bought the WEB from Safeco Insurance for $20 million in July 2006 in hopes of using it for a community center that never came to fruition.
The commission is scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday at city hall, 380 A Ave.

What they are saying about the Wizer Block

Today's Lake Oswego Review brings another round of unhappy voices regarding the proposed development that is to go there. This writer expresses my thoughts precisely.  Please read the follow-up post, Wizer Block - The Players to see who's who - so far.

From the 11/21/13 Lake Oswego Review: (emphasis mine)
"My concern really is regarding many of those who wrote supporting the development, especially those who stressed the “vibrancy” the project will provide us. Was it only coincidence that word was repeated in so many letters? The people who used them are the same people who were pushing for the high-density development of the Foothills and for the streetcar.
If the current development plan goes through, is it a first step toward a return to those previous two issues? Would the creation of a continuing traffic jam be an argument for reintroducing the push for a Portland to LO streetcar? And would the streetcar then allow the high-density development of Foothills? Those are just questions. I’ll leave it up to readers to answer them for themselves."
Gary Gipson, Lake Oswego, is a board member of COLA-LO.

Other Voices: (Excerpts)
We are unique. Where else in Oregon do you find a lovely small-scale village on a lake yet close to a cosmopolitan city? Sought-after towns from Carmel to Cannon Beach, Nantucket to Charleston, have preserved their historical identity by adopting smart redevelopment codes and prohibiting outside developers to circumvent them.
People who have grown up in Lake Oswego cherish our small-town atmosphere. Many new residents moved to Lake Oswego, set up businesses and bought homes here because we had codes to keep Lake Oswego picturesque.   NoteCurrent codes allow 60' building heights - these need to be changed!
Philip Pirrotta is a resident of Lake Oswego.
This is an important historical turning point. Whoever becomes the catalyst for this new development will go down in history. They will be remembered for a very long time. 
So how do we want to be remembered? As the ones who allowed a clumsy, overstuffed, over-the-top plan that will probably lead to overcrowding and certainly will forever change the character of our place into a commercial blankness?
Or, hopefully, as the supporters of a creative, considered solution to an ongoing challenge, which will gracefully address the needs of both people and place.
 Chloe Scott, Lake Oswego, is a member of Lake Oswego Adult Community Center and member of Save Our Village.

The addition of high-quality residential choices along with revitalized retail space constitutes real needed beneficial economic development and jobs. City findings show that all three buildings in the development as proposed are under height limits, more on-site parking is provided than city rules mandate and property tax boosts and building permit fees will offer real financial boosts to the LO schools and the city. But that only occurs if built with the significant private investment required.  Note: In a public hearing before the city council when they approved the development agreement, Chuck O'Leary presented testimony saying the development did not have enough parking to satisfy both residential and commercial uses, even though it is to code.  
Chuck O’Leary, CEO, Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce
Doug Cushing, President, Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce

My husband, myself and our friends are so disappointed to see the plans for Wizer’s. It is hard to believe that our city council is willing to jeopardize the special characteristics of downtown Lake Oswego. Out-of-town family and friends always remark how lucky we are to  have such a charming downtown. Three large buildings on one block just don’t look like they belong.  Note: this city council did not approve the 60' height limit, they inherited it, but the 5th story exception is up to them.
Lynn Haar is a resident of Lake Oswego.

Any proposed project (developer) should be acutely aware of this if [the development] is in the best interest of our town. Is there no other way to open up access or integrate the pedestrian-oriented experience into and through this massive block? We have a major opportunity to make this block both profitable and an expansion of the “destination experience” that makes this town shine. A solid block of apartments with poor design will literally be a wall in the face of Lake Oswego’s living room.
I hope to attend the design and review meeting in December to voice my opinion in opposition to this project.
Dr. Jason BussanichWestlake Chiropractic, LO chamber member

The Wizer block plan is ugly and overpowering. It is bad planning. It violates thoughtful public limits on height and on parking.

Arthur and Charlene EmlenLake Oswego residents for 47 years

I, for one, do not want my tax dollars subsidizing this project. Many of us have been looking forward to the redevelopment of the Wizer block. But this is not what we had in mind.
Barbara Eden, Lake Oswego

Those who are lucky enough to live or work in the new development will greatly benefit our downtown retail and restaurant community. They will add more vitality and excitement to our core. They will rarely need to drive because everything will be in walking distance.
Change is hard for some, but this project has been coming for 30 years. It is time to make it happen.
Lynne Wintermute, Lake Oswego

As a resident of Lake Oswego, I would like to express my support for the Block 137 development proposed by the Evergreen Group (LLC). The design is attractive, but even more important is the potential economic impact, which would be considerable. In addition to the significantly increased property taxes, the city would benefit from a one-time construction excise tax that would provide a huge boost to the local school district. More jobs would be created, and the retail and dining destinations would also generate increased economic activity and attract spending to the area.  Note: increased property taxes will first be used to pay off about $6 million + interest in bond debt and then go to the East End Development District only, not the General Fund.  The school district benefits from a one-time payment of about $250k.  
Nick Tahran, Lake Grove

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Apartment Bunkers German-style

Germans are into building apartment bunkers big time.  In fact, these can be used as emergency shelters, adding to the term "bunker".  It goes along with the feeling I get when the Central Planners talk about Compact Cities, using bicycles to get around, and access to garden plots and chicken coops as if the impending emergency (war, earthquake, or what?) was imminent.   We all want to be resiliant, right?  What better way than to live in an apartment bunker?

Transit - Is Lake Grove in Tigard? (Part 5)

It is curious and surprising to read in the City Of Tigard's Concepts for Potential Station Communities - Final Report, Vol. 1 of 3;  part of the city's High Capacity Transit Land Use Plan (June 2012) about what Tigard thinks might happen in Lake Oswego - specifically the Lake Grove Town Center.

On Page 6, unlike other SW Transit Corridor plans, there is a map that shows the boundaries of the Corridor and Lake Grove along with Kruse Way are clearly within the boundaries.

On Page 12, a chart of community types with description of now they function.  Lake Grove and Kruse Way are shown in the cataegory of "Transit Corridor", while the Downtown Town Center and First Addition Neighborhood function as a Town Center/Main Street with medium- to high-density housing and an "urban village feel".  Of course, this is just Tigard talking.

But what does it all mean for Lake Oswego? There must be at least a half dozen or more land use and transit plans that include Lake Oswego.  This prompts the question of, what are Lake Oswego's plans for transit corridors within the city?  I believe the Lake Oswego TSP (Transportation System Plan) Update will be completed after the Comp Plan is finished in December or January.  

Page 10:   "Tigard’s HCT Land Use Plan is part of an effort to balance the interests and benefits of community planning and transportation investments. Traditional planning for HCT service has focused on potential transit ridership and travel times. The Southwest Corridor Plan represents a new approach: Local community aspirations should shape the route of high capacity transit. Before any potential transit alignments are drawn on maps, communities are asked to decide on the locations that are the best fit as potential station communities.  Leading with land use planning enhances local control in shaping the look of station communities and can leverage other investments, such as bicycle and pedestrian access improvements, to support the transit investment. "

So instead of putting the transit where people are and might be able to use it, start with the idea of putting the people where you want the transit to go.  

Put the CRC out of its misery

The Clackamas Board of County Commissioners should vote to send a message to Salem that the County does not support the CRC, even though State Treasurer Tim Wheeler has put a wet rag on the deal.  Without Washington's financial support or agreement to enforce tolling Washinton residents, Oregon cannot sell the bonds needed to pay for the bridge.  There is also the little problem of our state constitution that doesn't allow Oregon to build outside it's borders, but, hey, until someone takes the state to court, anything goes.  It just can't go without money.  Clackamas BCC's blow will be another hole in this sinking ship.

Maybe something a bit more basic?  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Map of America's Future

A Map Of America's Future: 

Where Growth Will Be Over The Next Decade

This story appears in the September 23, 2013 issue of Forbes.
I don't know if I believe this prediction, but it's interesting nonetheless.  A Map of America's Future

Monday, November 18, 2013

***If you do only TWO things today...***

If, as in the last post of [nearly] the same name, the push is towards a regional form of government, then this article on Regionalism should be of vital interest to you too.  Joel Kotkin often writes about how most Americans prefer living in the suburbs despite what Urbanist's like to say.  The shift to a regional form of government takes sovereign states and home rule cities and quietly robs them of their constitutional relevance.  The big stick for the Feds is the money they distribute to the governments on "lower" rungs of government, ignoring the role of states in our country.  Any jurisdiction that wants to remain independent has to reject federal money - the addictive drug that fuels machine.  But how many governments can Just Say No?  How many citizens are prepared for that either?

For the liberty of not living under a federal regime.....  That would take courage.  And if enough cities and states refused federal money, and if our senators and congressmen changed laws to put the money back into our hands....  What would it take at every governmental level?  

*** If you do only ONE thing today..!***

This article, "Regionalism: Obama's Quiet Anti-Suburban Revolution", by Stanley Kurtz, is very insightful.  Great article and explosive content.   If anyone asks me why I do this blog, I am going to give them a copy of this article.  After that, no explanation should be necessary.  This blog is about connecting the dots and fighting to preserve and protect the place we live.

I apologize to everyone about bringing partisan politics into land use discussions.  I did't title the article, I don't recommend it because it has Obama's name in it, and I don't want to upset people.  Regionalism has been on the rise since before Obama became President - it claims no political party.  The article is about an escallation of the use of regulations through the regional governments to supress the authority of local jurisdictions and impose a certain adgenda.  The land use policies discussed in the article are apparent in the Tri-County area and need to be explored for intent and reasoning no matter who is behind the ideas - Democrats, Republicans, or little green people.

Regional governments cover much of the land in the United States as shown on the map from NARC - the National Association of Regional Councils.  Regionalism is having the effect of rendering local governments more and more powerless, and our democratic process more and more distant.  
"Early but unmistakable signs indicate that Obama’s regionalist push is well underway. Yet the president doesn’t discuss his regionalist moves and the press does not report them.

"The new HUD rule is really about changing the way Americans live. It is part of a broader suite of initiatives designed to block suburban development, press Americans into hyper-dense cities, and force us out of our cars. Government-mandated ethnic and racial diversification plays a role in this scheme, yet the broader goal is forced “economic integration.” The ultimate vision is to make all neighborhoods more or less alike, turning traditional cities into ultra-dense Manhattans, while making suburbs look more like cities do now. In this centrally-planned utopia, steadily increasing numbers will live cheek-by-jowl in “stack and pack” high-rises close to public transportation, while automobiles fall into relative disuse. To understand how HUD’s new rule will help enact this vision, we need to turn to a less-well-known example of the Obama administration’s regionalist interventionism."

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The BCC and the CRC: What to do?

The Clackamas Board of County Commissioners is concerned about increased traffic and congestion on I-205 if there is tolling on the Columbia River Crossing bridge on I-5.   The County wrote 3 letters in the last 5 years expressing concern about the volume of traffic that will divert to I-205 to avoid tolls, creating increased congestion.  Earlier traffic studies predicted I-205 might be maxed out by 2030, with or without the tolling, however a newer study created for another purpose moved the date up to 2022.

On October 29, the Board of Commissioners wrote a letter to the Governor requesting to see a recent traffic study they believe is in possession of ODOT, and that the state make reasonable accommodation for the influx of traffic on I-205.  The state did not respond to the requests by the Board's November 11 deadline, and now they are considering their response which could include formal opposition to the CRC and/or tolling I-205 to keep traffic evenly divided between I-5 and I-205.  At their December 5 meeting, the Board of Commissioners will vote on what their response will be.  Commission Chair, John Ludlow, suggested the County formally oppose the CRC.

County citizens, especially those who use I-205 even occasionally or use it to get to the airport, will be affected by the CRC.  Comments by the public may be made at the Board Meeting on the 5th - it would be good to have citizens involved in the decisions they have to live with!  If you want to have an impact on what your commissioner do, attend the meeting!  

Thursday, December 5, 10:00 am in the BCC Hearing Room
The County only publishes the BCC calendar for the next week, so please check for the correct time at:  http://www.clackamas.us/bcc/schedule.html

Tolls on the Columbia River Crossing 

Will Max Out Interstate 205

New Public Records Unveil Massive Exodus from Interstate 5

Willamette Week Sept. 23rd, 2013 by ANDREA DAMEWOO

Only about half as many cars would use the Columbia River Crossing than previously predicted, and far more will choke the Interstate 205 bridge as drivers try to avoid paying tolls, according to new information uncovered by Portland economist Joe Cortright.Plans for tolling Interstate 5 at the CRC will cause Interstate 205 to reach capacity. Meanwhile, traffic on Interstate 5 will plummet to half that originally predicted by state officials. State officials were counting on higher traffic counts—and the tolls drivers would pay—to cover the costs of the $2.8 billion project.The projections were made by CDM Smith—the company the CRC hired to perform an investment grade analysis on tolls—but were previously not disclosed by the CRC to state legislators or the media, despite a number of public records requests.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

How the script is being written

I am responding to some of the statements made by supporters of  the Block 137 (Wizer Block) development as written in the Lake Oswego Review's Letters to the Editor.

I have decided not to give the names of the authors at this point - I want to talk about massaging the media.  I encourage USC readers to read the Review's Opinion section;  There is a particularly fine piece by Dr. Tana Haynes on Pg. A10 in this week's paper (Nov. 14, 2013), "Downtown proposal appears a desperate choice".   Later I will talk about the players, but understand that there are many in this group that have direct ties to the Streetcar, Urban Renewal and the Foothills Development including many that have business interests that stand to gain from increased density and urban renewal in downtown.  The sudden burst of letters supporting the development coincides with the creation of a website promoting the development, making it hard to not to assume that this isn't an organized campaign to counter the work of the grass roots effort to reduce the impact of downtown development.  Come back for the cast of characters- until then, here is the script:

Opponents of the Block 137 project claim the design doesn't meet the city's codes.
Speaking for myself, the opponents are unhappy that the project is not compatible with the neighborhood and district, and that the exception should not have been granted.  These are both code issues.  
 I am alarmed...
The writer may well be "alarmed", but too often people use invectives to make readers feel that the opposing side is unreasonable and scary - enough so to cause a reasonable person to become alarmed.  
Ample parking will be available for residents and retail patrons and will be kept underground.
"Ample" is he term in question here.  The Chamber of Commerce did their own analysis and found the public parking is woefully inadequate.  City codes have decreased from past "ample" allowances, squeezing parking spaces for business patrons.  Lake Grove Village parking lot was done "to code" as the city required and parking has been a problem ever since.  New construction will have similar maximum standards.  (Employees for LG Village now park off-site on rented property in the county.)
The developer has done an exceptional job of integrating our village character into the development, splitting it into three separate buildings.
Splitting the project up into three buildings does not do anything about increasing and varying the setbacks from the street or reducing height and scale - part of what make the building so intrusive.  
The additional stories are created by adding much needed housing in the roof line.
How does this writer define "need" or "much needed"?  The need for anything is typically found when the product or service goes to market and if there is a demand for it.  If there is an unmet need for this type of housing in downtown LO, then why is the city subsidizing the project?  With the "need" the writer professes, I am sure there will be multiple options still to come.  
As a consultant who works with small cities all over Oregon...
I think the word "consultant" says it all.  This particular writer has worked intensively for Lake Oswego on Foothills and Boones Ferry Rd. projects and might work here again.
Our business owners desire a stronger residential presence in the downtown to support their businesses.
Through redevelopment, those who lease their spaces will find their rents going up as the value of the land goes up.  Valuable for the property owner, seller and buyer.  Increased business for downtown is great, but government-supported growth may be a double-edged sword for the business owners.  Unless it's the property owners who are clamoring for all of this?  
The additional tax revenues help share the property tax burden for all of us property taxpayers.  With increasing costs of services, we have to either face cuts in those services or have new revenue to help pay for those services.
The additional property taxes will go to pay for the bonded debt of the Urban Renewal District funds spent on the project plus interest and service charges.  Taxpayers will see no benefit for about 12  years.  When taxes do flow back to the city, they will benefit only the Urban Renewal District, not the General Fund.  The additional 228 households create a demand for services that will be greater than property taxes will cover.  Residential tax-to-service demand ratio is a net loss to city coffers.  The ratio is reversed for businesses.  Adding more housing units to the city is not an "investment".
The density is needed to pay for the two floors of underground parking which is a benefit to the community (unlike Portland, which has not provided for parking for some apartments and pushed the tenants out to the street).
As I said above, the parking requirements of the city are in question.  Portland does not require ANY parking for complexes with less than 30 units.  Their maximums for larger complexes are abysmally small too.  This is to force people to use public transit, walk or ride bikes.  It places a burden on both tenants who continue to own cars and need to find a place to put them, and neighborhoods that find their streets have become unsafe, busy, urban parking lots. W&K Development (same developers as for the Wizer Block) are currently constructing the Cathedral Apartments in St. John's - 165 units of housing with only 132 parking spaces - about .8 stalls per unit.
The community needs to take a collective deep breath...
Gives one the impression people have been hyperventilating and not as calm as they should be. 
As a longtime resident, I believe that there aren't enough housing options for those of us who would like to remain in Lake Oswego with a downsized lifestyle.
No one I know says this project should not be built, the issue is design and volume.  If the market for condos or apartments exists, rest assured, the need will be met by the private market.  And if there was a real demand, there would be no need to give our money as subsidies to developers.  
Grocery stores, restaurants, and other services are all within easy distance on foot.
The Safeway block is on the redevelopment chopping block.  Who knows what will go in when Safeway is torn down.  The Albertson's store may become a parking garage for the streetcar if that is ever built, and then there may be no grocery stores in the East End - just shops and restaurants.  Note:   Brant Williams told the FAN Assn. that Safeway has signed a long-term lease, so it will be around for quite awhile.  Good for FAN and ENA!
The Wizer block represents the opportunity for many to continue to reside in the community that they have called home for so long, but in smaller apartments that are much more manageable, both in terms of size and monthly expenses like rent.
These are to be luxury apartments with rent commensurate to that in the Pearl District.  A smaller development and other locations would also provide options to seniors.  
Right now it [the Wizer building] is on the verge of being an eyesore.
The building was designed by Sundaleaf in the 1950s.  It is a classic, and well designed building.  
Though some do not like the design period, there are many features that were new then and done with excellent materials you rarely see today.  Mr. Wizer should be able to redevelop his property, but I would hope that others can see it for something fine, rather than an eyesore.
There is already a long list of people interested in moving in.
Last I heard, Patrick Kessi said he had a "list of tens."
It also offers an option for young people and many others who may not want a larger and separate home.
The luxury apartments are being designed to appeal to young "professionals" (and seniors) with enough income to support the high rents.  
All of this will also add to the city's revenues, which will help all of our taxpayers.
See above.  Additional property taxes will first go to pay off TIF bonds, after that, the tax revenue will stay in the urban renewal district, not go to the general fund today for city services.
The writers [of letters to the editor] ask for retaining a lake Oswego's village character essentially by restricting population to current levels or less than called for in the current plan.
Detractors want to preserve the village character of Lake Oswego, something that is repeatedly stated in our city's Comp Plan.  No one is asking for the population to be frozen as is, but reducing  the size and bulk of the new development would lower the numbers for that block.  
In addition, the city's tax base will eventually increase and residents will benefit as a result of the tax burden being shared by more residents.
See comments above.
The amount of on-site, underground parking provided exceeds what is required by current code.
See above comments about Lake Grove Village.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Of BeltLines and Bike Lanes

Wall Street Journal 11/14/13
Letter to the Editor

I recall going on a BeltLine tour in Atlanta where the bike path concept was explained by a guide.  During the tour one of the riders asked about the effectiveness of blocking lanes on streets for bicycle travel.  She pointed out that congestion had increased in her neighborhood.  The guide responded that eventually people would change their ways.  I thought, how is this going to happen?  Residents still shop at Wal-Mart and many work in a suburb.  The only reason they live in the neighborhood is because they find it more appealing than the suburbs.  How is blocking streets going to affect that?

The people of Atlanta eventually refused to fund the BeltLine social engineering extravagance.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

They're baaaack...

Wizer Development (Block 137) being defended from attacking native people.

They are back in force and have brought reinforcements!  The King's troops have gathered and are circling their wagons and infantry around the fort.  The barrage of attacks from the aboriginal people have been escalating and may even do some real damage if left unchecked, so decisive action must be taken immediately!  Bring it on defenders all!  No holding back!  If this fort falls, the whole empire may go and all the King's fortunes with it.

The troops are using psychological warfare too - trying to win hearts and minds by appealing to the aboriginals' reasonable side, and at the same time, inferring that they are backward and emotional - if they want to be on the winning side, they should surrender now!  

The peons can't be allowed to win, they know that other forts are being planned and built are vulnerable too and if they win here they will be unstopable.  They may like things now, but when they see what's in store for them, the locals will be even more rabid, so the line is here, and the time is now!

The only aboriginals of real concern are the minority that really care enough to fight.  The real masses are asleep, but if they ever woke up, the kingdom and all its fortunes would be lost, because the future really is in their hands - they just don't know it. 

Read the Lake Oswego Review Opinion section and Letters to the Editor in today's paper (11/14/13).   I will be back later with my own comments on the letters, so come back and join me after I finish doing some more raking.