The public hearing on the Comp Plan centered on a unified theme: Do not allow certain [Smart Growth] practices and ideology from taking way the character of Lake Oswego as a small town with small scale town centers and protected low-density neighborhoods. Overall, the council had the same ideas and went to work examining the Plan despite City Manager Scott Lazenby's advice to push the Plan through regardless of whether or not they like all of the Plan. The Council had their own agenda.
The Comp Plan has been such a hot potato that there will be a philosophical, ideological tug of war over over the correct path for the city to take for many years to come. This isn't a one-time battle. I wish it were. Certain liberties, freedoms and a prosperous economy require us to protect our way of life. Without vigilance, the New Urbanist form of transit-oriented developments, 20-minute neighborhoods and a more regulatory government will consume us all. We are too stupid to know what to do, and can't be trusted to do it. We need a monarchy after all - the American Revolution was just an experiment in liberty that has to be changed.
New Urbanism makes no accommodation for low-density suburban towns except to bring them into the fold. For their own good. (Read the WSJ Notable & Quotable post from a few days ago.) Happiness with the old ways typifies a heathen belief system and adherents needed to be reformed.
The social engineers have a better way for us to live, and being part of an elite, bureaucratic class, feel that we need to be fixed so we can be like everywhere else. No town should be able to escape the great maw of New Urbanism, and they wouldn't be doing their job if there were towns that stuck out as being different. The neighbors would be envious. They would want what we have because they allowed the Central Planners to destroy their small town way of life and differences would create unrest envy and unrest. Better to have everyone be the same. There's an answer to that - no Central Planning for any town. Let each struggle on their own to grow, adapt and come together as a family and as adults to work things out, not as children with an authoritarian, micromanaging parent.
I can't think of anything worse than to see our residential areas littered with mid- to high- density housing and mixed-use development in Neighborhood Villages (think Palisades shopping area) and Neighborhood Commons established around schools and parks with limited commercial activities and other events (think Westridge School) to fill the geographic gaps so that ALL neighborhoods could be 20-minute neighborhoods. Perhaps they would evolve into something more commercial as time went on.
The vision of the two - Neighborhood Villages and Neighborhood Commons - could, over time, fracture the city. At the Council hearing last night, our elected officials poured over the Comp Plan draft asking for certain changes to get the meaning they wanted. Staff will do re-writes and bring the changes back to the council in December along with the second half of the Comp Plan. The council did not finish their review of the packet and left one section to finish along with Package 2. There were several changes with a few more on the maybe list. Already decided:
- Removal of Multimodal Area designation(s) in the city.
- Specifically include autos in descriptions of modes of travel along with bicycles, walking, etc. to make it clear that we are a town that uses automobiles to get around.
- Call out measurable, national standards as the rule for setting parking standards for new construction rather than "adequate" for a minimum, and "excessive" as a maximum.
If you read this entire post, thank you. This is important stuff and the reason I decided to do this blog. Liberty is not a concept to me, it is physical, and it is visceral. People have died for our freedoms, and we don't have to fight a war to lose them. It can happen bit by bit by people who have good intentions but don't see the harm in what they do, and by a citizenry that allows it to happen. Choose your elected officials wisely - there is a lot of work to do.