Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Friday, February 28, 2014

A home for the homeless

Sign me up
The Antiplanner, February 25, 2014

Amtrak has so many empty seats on its trains that it is creating a writers-in-residence program offering free long-distance train rides to writers provided that they tweet their journeys. Despite my skepticism for government subsidies to trains, I love trains and have always dreamed of living on one. So I’m ready to take up my residency.


* * * * * * *

It's a brilliant plan!  The homeless are known to hop freight cars anyway, so why not give them free passes on Amtrak trains.  The empty seats are already paid for, and the seats are empty.  The romance of train travel may be priceless, but not to enough people, so perhaps the romance can be shared with people who don't get much of it in their lives.  It's a win - win!  

Here's another solution to the homeless crisis from a design competition, Tesser Act, Almost Home Design Competition.  At 30% to 40%, this would either take care of most of the area's problems, or attract more for such an attractive spot with "seats" to fill.  Taxpayers get to pay for all manner of programs hatched by bureaucrats - necessary services, or jobs programs for the people who invent them?  Does either project here seem workable to you?  

* * * * * * *

The project will create a new ‘neighbourhood’ with a mixed demographic: 30-40% residents will be ‘formerly homeless,’ the rest will not. The idea here is to further encourage integration with others and develop a sense of community.

The neighbourhood will have a series of public programs as well as being residential. These programs will activate the neighbourhood and provide activities & jobs for the homeless, enabling them to develop a sense of responsibility & self-worth within their new community. They will also provide a source of income to maintain and potentially help fund the development. The ‘development’ would be funded both publicly and privately. 

There are innumerable vacant strips of land created by train and tram lines – obstacles that can be readily ‘bridged’ to form vibrant neighbourhoods that re-integrate the homeless. So take a look around your city… how many sites would be suitable for a project like this?

Sense of Place starts with its citizen

Lake Oswego Review (2/27/2014) letter to the editor:

‘What “Is” is’ in Lake Oswego

This past month I spent more than nine hours listening to citizen comment regarding the Wizer project — Block 137. As a result I strongly encourage, no, make that “strongly request” the city of Lake Oswego adopt a height pole and netting policy for additions and new construction similar to the one in Los Gatos, Calif. — see town.los-gatos.ca.us/index.aspx?NID=733.

This policy establishes a process that ensures all stakeholders in a development project share the same sense of mass, volume and community impact. Additionally, it will reduce the number of hours (read cost and frustration) attributed to defining what “Is” is.
Ron Smith
Lake Oswego  
 * * * * *

Smith is correct.  I have heard this argument made for changing the LO CDCs:  Find another city that has already solved the problem with density and community character and citizen demands (typically well-to-do communities).   I've heard stories about villages on the East Coast that have retained their original Revolution-era, small town feel and character from being overrun by too-big,  modern development.  Our current code does not fit our town - and having staff review and interpret it on each project gives them too much power and the possibility of unfair code enforcement.  Culling out half of the tome of codes and regulations to its bare necessities should be a city priority.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Transportation System Plan - Part 3 - Meeting Dates CORRECTION

If you have ANY comments you want to share with the Transportation Advisory Board, you have until March 5 to get them in, prior to their meeting on March 6, at 6:30 pm, City Hall.  The comments will be considered by the Board and then written up by Amanda Owings, Transportation Engineer, in a report that will go to the Planning Commission for the Public Hearing on March 10, just 4 days later.

No agenda is posted for either meeting - this agenda items for these dates were derived from Engineering Department personnel.  I don't like it, but agendas are generally not posted online until about 4 days prior to the actual meeting.  If the subject is complex, there is usually no time to do any study or to get questions answered - but it meets the letter of the law.

 Transportation Advisory Board  
March 6, 2014
6:30 PM
City Hall

CORRECTION:  The Agenda for the March 10 PC Meeting does not have any mention of the TSP hearing.  It is unknown if either the verbal or website information is correct.  Be on the lookout for updates and changes!  Let Up Sucker Creek know if there are other dates for TSP meetings. 

            Planning Commission    
March 10, 2014
6:30 PM
City Hall

Don'f forget to let your City Council know what you think.

This is your city after all.

Transportation System Plan - Part 2 - Clackamas County TSP Documents

  1. Clackamas County TSP Documents:
Existing and 2035 Future Conditions Report

it amazes me about the number and placement of bike and pedestrian paths in such a rural and large county as Clackamas.  while many of these facilities are located in urbanized areas, many are not, and many are part of Metro's Regional TSP.  It appears that Metro and the State are driving the push for more "active transportation" whether it is a good idea or not in a given location.  It makes me wonder if that is where the federal money is prioritized, so that is what we get, or if it is an ideological issue, or if the need actually exists.  When I drive around town (an urban area) the only people I see riding bikes are doing so for recreational and fitness purposes.  As fine as that is, it differs from a strict definition of transportation - the means of getting from one place to another.  

The link above will take you to the county's TSP documents.  If you have the time (only after you finish scouring the Lake  Oswego TSP!) take a look at the county TSP and the Metro RTP (including the HCTP) and perhaps the state TSP.  You will see where this stuff is coming from.  BUT - there is a difference between regional plans and what is required.  Being "partners" with Metro on their regional trails means that we take on their projects with our money - unfunded mandates - while Lake Oswego needs take a back seat.  
  • Bike Master Plan Projects in Northweat County
    Northwest County
    With the exception of Borland Road south of I-205, the rural portions have no shoulders wide enough to be designated as shoulder bikeways.
  •   The County’s urban portions of this sub area do not have any bicycle lanes.
  •   The County’s Bike Master Plan identifies priorities for filling in the bicycle network gaps. The priority of these projects will be reviewed based on the TSP Vision and Goals evaluation criteria. They are shown in the table below. 
  Bike Master      Plan Project
  Street Name
  Section Description
  Project Elements
RB 404
Stafford Rd to Tualatin
Widen / Shoulder Bikeways
RB 407
Tualatin to Stafford
Widen / Shoulder Bikeways
RB 408
Stafford to West Linn
Widen / Shoulder Bikeways
RB 419
Stafford Rd to West Linn
Widen / Shoulder Bikeways
RB 428
Stafford Road to Summit
Widen / Shoulder Bikeways
RB 432
Lake Oswego to Borland
Widen / Shoulder Bikeways
RB 433
Borland to Mountain
Widen / Shoulder Bikeways
RB 434
Mountain to Boeckman
page35image32684Widen / Shoulder Bikeways
B= Urban Bike Facility, RB = Rural Bikeway 

Carman Drive to I-5
Bike lanes
Portions maintained by County
Bike lanes. Striping possibly in Tualatin / Lake Oswego Jurisdiction.
Kruse Way to I-5
Bike lanes, Reconstruction and Widening
65th to Stafford Road
Bike lanes
Boones Ferry to Childs Road
Bike lanes

Existing Roadway Deficiencies: Key Findings 

 Northwest County
Two of the five study intersections are operating at volume-to-capacity ratios that do not meet performance standards:
o SW Childs Road/SW Stafford Road
o SW 65th Avenue/SW Stafford Road
Roadway segments (excluding I-205 and I-5) are primarily uncongested during the weekday evening peak hour. Relatively short segments of Stafford Road south of Rosemont Road are estimated to experience some level of congestion. 

One candidate road safety audit corridor was identified based on crash data review -- Stafford Road from S Rosemont Road to SW Mountain Road. 

Pedestrian System Gaps and Deficiencies 
Northwest County
  •   There are no deficiencies in the pedestrian system based on rural roadway standards. However, the roadways in rural areas that lack shoulders should also be considered as gaps or deficiencies for rural pedestrians.
  •   While sidewalks are required in the County’s urban areas, none of the streets in the County’s urban areas in the Lake Oswego area are designated as part of the Essential Pedestrian Network. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

LO lets developers know what "too big" is

KOIN TV news broadcast on Friday, February 21, covered the Wizer Block controversy in Lake Oswego.  Too bad viewers AND residents can't see a superimposed model of the proposed development so they could get a good idea of how big the thing really is and how much space it fills.

To see the TV broadcast, click HERE.  

Lake Oswego high rise apts plan nixed

LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s back to the drawing board for developers who want to build an apartment complex in downtown Lake Oswego.
Developers wanted to build a 228-unit apartment complex on A Avenue between 1st and 2nd streets. That stretch was originally laid out to be part of the retail commercial core in the downtown area.
“The sheer size and density of the proposal” is why this became such a hot-button issue in Lake Oswego, said neighborhood advocate Jim Bolland.
The plan called for 290,000 square-feet of residential space with with 28,000 square-feet for retail. That ratio was not in line with the city design plan.
When developer Pat Kessi took his proposal to the Development Review Commission, the meeting drew a packed house of proponents and opponents.
But the review commission decided the proposed development simply does not work.

City Council, a helpful reminder for you

A reader sent this caution:  There is still a MMA designation on the Foothills district that includes the downtown urban renewal area.  This needs to be removed by the City Council by sending notice to ODOT.   Reminders to Council are OK.

There is still work to do on the MMA. The City Council will need to direct the City Manager to send a letter to ODOT rescinding the MMA or it's not going to go away. 

This brings up a question in my mind though.  I have heard that the Comp Plan contains maps that are not consistant with current zoninig.  The Council just approved the Comp Plan - did they approve bad maps?  Was there anything on the maps that allows for a MMA?  This should be checked out so no stone is left unturned.  

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To:      Oregon Department of Transportation
Date:   February 25, 2014
From:  City of Lake Oswego
Re:      Multimodal Mixed-Use Area

Dear ODOT,

We have a MMA that we no longer want.  Can you please take it back?  I just doesn't fit.  You'll find it around State St., or Hyw. 43 to you.  Thank you.


Mayor and City Council
City of Lake Oswego

Cc:  City Manager and Planning Staff

Monday, February 24, 2014

Tigard HCT Vote

The Tigard Times reports that both the Tigard City Council and their Chamber of Commerce - the "movers and shakers" of the community as the paper calls them, have come out against the High Capacity Transit measure on the March ballot.  Why does this not surprise me.  Perhaps it's because the same players took the same position in a Lake Oswego a few years ago with the Portland to Lake Oswego Streetcar.  At that time, the citizens of Lake Oswego, in a valid, third-party survey, turned a thumbs down on a streetcar.

The measure on the ballot next month is asking Tigard citizens if they want a streetcar or a BRT using up half of Hwy. 99, but the measure has HUGE differences from the Lake Oswego survey:  1) The measure would allow Tigard citizens the opportunity to vote on future high capacity transit systems, and 2) The decision requiring a vote is binding - the City Council cannot make the decision to have a HCT system without the support of its citizens.  The backers of the measure believe that decisions that will signigicantly alter their city is better left to its citizens.

The Tigard "movers and shakers" have joins ranks with developers, labor unions, consultants and others with an interest in seeing HCT built and have formed a PAC and funded the campaign against the shoe-string-budget, citizen-led group.  (See SW Rail Vote funding here.)

In an article in The (Tigard) Times, the Tigard Chamber of Commerce tips its hand in its opposition to the Measure 34-210:  Tigard is "geographically positioned as a transportation and business hub in the metro area."  Thanslation: High Capacity Transit isn't necessarily good for the citizens of Tigard, but it is good for the Chamber of Commerce and the Metro area.  Sadly, their political leaders feel the same way - future citizens and Metro matter more than current citizens whose quality of life is on the line and who will have to pay the bills.  

Chamber takes stand against measure
From The Times, February 20, 2014

The ballot measure asks Tigard voters to decide the fate of high-capacity transit in the city.
If passed, the city would formally oppose any form of high-capacity transit, including MAX light rail and rapid bus service. The city would be required to send letters to several county, state and federal leaders declaring its position, and would not be able to make amendments to city code to make way for high-capacity transit without a public vote.
Supporters claim the ballot measure will force the city to negotiate better with Metro and other regional leaders on issues of transportation, because it will need final approval from voters before anything can be built.
But opponents, including the Chamber, say the measure would tie the hands of city leaders as they try to plan for the transportation needs of the future.
The area is expected to grow by 40 percent by the year 2035, Mollahan said, and cities like Portland, Tigard and Tualatin will need to keep their options open for new ways for people to get around town.
“Tigard is geographically positioned as a transportation and business hub in the metro area,” she said. “More people live in and conduct business in Tigard than ever before, causing significant traffic congestion. Understandably, residents cite congestion as their number one area of concern associated with growth.”

Sunday, February 23, 2014

That was fast! Rural reserves dispute resolved

by: COURTESY OF SAVE HELVETIA - Farmland in the rural Helvetia area of Washington County figured into the land use dispute.
by: COURTESY OF SAVE HELVETIA - Farmland in the rural Helvetia area of Washington County figured into the land use dispute

Agreement reached in regional 

land-use dispute

A breakthrough in the so-called grand land-use bargain was reached Sunday after days of intense negotiations involving state and local officials, conservationists and farmers.

The agreement is intended to resolve the uncertainty produced by the recent Oregon Court of Appeals ruling that rejected a 50-year land-use plan for the Portland area. It only applies to Washington County and must be passed by the 2014 Legislature to be final.

"This is good compromise for agriculture, residential and industrial interests in the county, and brings certainty future urban and rural land decisions," says Washington County Chair Andy Duyck.
The agreement is intended to ratify portions of previously approved urban and rural reserves, and subsequent urban growth boundary expansion based on them. Details of the settlement are expected to released in Salem early in the week. The session is scheduled to adjourn by March 5.

Despite the focus on Washington County, the court ruled that mistakes were made in the other counties, too. Multnomah County did not justify designating much of its undeveloped land between Portland and Beaverton as rural reserves. It include a 62-acre parcel adjacent to the North Bethany residential area that the owners want to sell for development. And the court found Clackamas County did not explain why the Stafford area should be designated an urban reserve when it is already facing growing congestion problems.

TSP Draft - Part 1

TSP Draft - find the draft document HERE and download.  There are 2 main PDF files:  The Body of the Plan, and Technical Reports and Data from consultants.  There is another component of the zipped folder and that is the audio files from the TSPAC meetings.  These are easy to find on the TAB Agenda page of the city website under Boards and Commissions.  I recommend listening to the one from December 11, 2013 if you have the time.

If you have any difficulty downloading and unzipping the TSP documents so that they are readable, contact the city for assistance.  I was directed to the library for downloading and copying files, but the librarians I spoke to did not know how that worked.  The city should be responsible to make public documents available in a way that is useful to the average citizen.  And you should not have to pay a lot of money to get them either!  The city produced stacks and stacks of Comp Plan drafts that were handed out free, so to change practices now seems either ridiculous or calculated make things difficult.  Let the city council know if you have problems accessing public documents now, or at any time, for any reason.
This is your city after all.  

Transportation System Plan (TSP) – PP 10‐0007

The City began the process of updating the TSP in January 2012, when Council approved a contract with Kittelson and Associates, Inc. to assist with the development of the update to the TSP. The Transportation System Plan Advisory Committee (TSPAC) was formed shortly afterwards, and consisted of the existing Transportation Advisory Board, and other agency representatives from Clackamas County, ODOT, Metro, and TriMet. Their charge was to provide technical and advisory feedback on the proposed TSP updates during the review and analysis efforts.

 As the project nears completion, the final outcome will be a document that is intended to guide Public Works staff in future development and operation of the City’s transportation system. The major components of the document will include:
  •  Goals and Policies that are coordinated with the Comprehensive Plan
  • Existing Conditions Analysis – crashes, traffic volumes, facilities
  • Street Classifications – proposed modifications 
  • Typical CrossSections for various roadway classifications
  •  Project Identification
  • Funding needs and strategies 
  1. The State Transportation Planning Rule (Oregon Administrative Rule 660, Division 12) requires transportation and land use planning to be coordinated. The requirements of Statewide Planning Goal 12, which is concerned with Transportation, are provided for in the Goals and Policies found in the Connected Community Chapter of the updated Comprehensive Plan. The TSP is being updated in coordination with the Comprehensive Plan update and will become part of the Plan.

    New regional planning requirements are in effect since the City adopted its first TSP in 1997. These requirements are found in Metro’s Functional Plan which directs local jurisdictions to implement the Regional 2040 Growth Concept, a longrange plan intended to guide growth and development of the region over 50 years. The 2035 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), adopted by Metro in June 2010, identifies the transportation policies, projects, and strategies needed to implement the 2040 Growth Concept. The RTP also contains criteria for monitoring transportation system performance for all modes of travel.

    Although State and Metro planning rules require the City to periodically update its Plan, the City chooses how to create a wellfunctioning, integrated transportation system that responds to local needs. The transportation plan must address increasing automobile traffic and alternative modes of travel, while maintaining neighborhood livability. 

    Existing Conditions Analysis
    This section of the TSP focused on reviewing the physical aspects of the transportation system and how it operates. Staff analyzed crash histories throughout the city, identifying locations that need further review. The effort also included looking at existing pedestrian and bicycle facilities to better identify “gaps” in the system. Lastly, staff reviewed the Metro 2035 traffic volume model to identify where automobile congestion can be expected in the future, given the land use designations in the Comprehensive Plan, and the existing development pattern.
    Functional Classifications and Typical Sections
    The TSP categorizes streets by their classification and the role they play in the movement of people, goods, and services. The proposed update to the TSP maintains the same classification and functionality categories. However, based on observation of current operations and system needs, staff is proposing to change the classification of a few street segments. The changes will be shown at the Open House and Work Session along with a short discussion of the impacts of classification changes.
    Proposed Projects and Improvements
    All TSPs identify the capital projects that are needed to meet a jurisdiction’s goals and policies as identified and to mitigate for impacts from development and growth. Given the builtout nature of the Lake Oswego area, new streets and major intersection projects are not likely to be constructed. Existing intersections do need minor operational improvements to the signals, and some will need improvements to address safety issues. Adding vehicular travel lanes for improved capacity are neither desired nor identified as necessary. However, the majority of transportation deficiencies are in the pedestrian and bicycle network. A large list of projects have been identified and prioritized. The map of projects that will be shown at the work session will clearly display where projects are identified; there is a direct connection between those projects and the existing conditions maps that show gaps in the system. 
    Funding Outlook
    An extensive analysis of the city’s transportation funding was a component of this update. Similar to all other cities and counties, there are not sufficient funds to both maintain the existing infrastructure and to expand it with new projects. Information will be provided that shows what type and how much funding the City receives in the Street Fund, and where those funds currently are expended. The TSP identifies a number of funding scenarios that could be considered to raise sufficient funds to realistically implement the proposed system projects over the next 25 years. This information will likely be used as a catalyst for conversation about future funding and budgeting with the City Council. 

A meeting of chairs

To see a collection of artful chairs, check out the exhibit, "Oh Sit!"

The Neighborhood Association Chairs' Meeting on Saturday morning was especially good.  The discussion kept coming back to the same theme no matter who was speaking and no matter what issue was on the table.

Where did this idea come from?  
We didn't ask for it and we don't want it.
Once it's part of a plan or map, it seems to stay.
Citizens and neighborhoods are being left out of the process.

From all over the city we heard, Where did this come from? and Who's idea was this? plus  How did this things get pushed through without anyone noticing it? 

It is no wonder why this sentiment is occurring, and there is no question that there are a lot of pent-up feelings behind it.  

Unfortunately, these are more complicated questions than they appear.  You can point to the city staff who wrote and presented the report, regulation, ordinance, new plan or whatever, but we have to look at the influences they are responding to:  their own education/training and background; laws, regulations and guidelines coming from several layers of government; and policies set by the city council.   In many cases, the wishes of the city council are not the first priority of planners.  Unfortunately, when there are options for the city to diverge from Metro or State goals and chart its own path, these are not given the attention they deserve, even if the citizens may want them.  

The conventional planning theory for the last decade or two has been Smart Growth.  Elected leaders at all levels have jumped on the bandwagon of sustainable growth done in a particular way that there no longer seems to be any question that Smart Growth principals are the holy grail for saving the planet and the human race from certain doom, that is IF you believe this is where we are headed, or if you want to capitalize on climate panic as a source of power and control.  

The Oregon State legislature has adopted the Climate Smart Communities agenda for the state, and Metro is using it as a guide for sustainability goals and policies for the region.  The program centers on controlling GHG (greenhouse gasses) chiefly by controlling the use of automobiles.  CO2 is now defined by the EPA as an air pollutant but this is being challenged in court.  Extreme land use and transportation planning is being done in the name of climate warming or climate change (which is it?), effectively using our concern for the environment to force social change.  

The REAL QUESTION is how citizens can REGAIN CONTROL of their neighborhoods, cities and states.  As the saying goes, THINK GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY.  

Below is only a PARTIAL list of the forces at work trying to change our cities and engineer our behavior. A great many organizations derive their funding from the US or other governments and philanthropic sources, so it is always wise to see who is behind the groups you decide to support and what their agendas are.

Metro - 2040 Functional Plan, 2035 Metro Growth Plan, 2035 Transportation System Plan, Regional Transportation Plan, High-Capacity Regional Transportation Plan, Southwest Corridor Plan, Regional Trails and Pathways Plan, Regional Bike Paths..... and more.
State of Oregon - Oregon Transportation Plan, LCD land use regulations, ODOT regulations, Oregon High Speed Rail project, Department of Energy
Federal - Grant money channeled through State and Metro (MPO) for transportation and land use, focus is mainly on smart growth land use planning, high capacity transit, active transportation; EPA, DEQ, HUD, DOT regulations and more.
United Nations & International AgreementsICLEI (no longer a member)
NGOsPew Caritable Trust:  Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, North America 2050, Smart Growth America, Natural Step, 
Consultants - often shared with Metro and other cities in the region and state.  Kittelson and Associates, Cogan Owens and Cogan, EcoNorthwest, CH2MHill, Otak, David Evans and Associates and many more.  
Education - Portland State University School of Urban Planning