Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Friday, May 30, 2014

Townhouses in Toowoomba

Realtors, and anybody who is in the market to downsize in Lake Oswego know that very nice condos are a hot commodity, and I imagine one- or two-story units are best, maybe with a small courtyard to replace the yard that was too big to take care of.  There are places like that here in town, Condolea in Mt. Park, is one I can think of.

What if they built 'em like they used to, so you felt like you were living in a home and not a box?

This development in Toowoomba, Australia looks so nice I would give up my house and big yard to live there (if there was a private outdoor space!).

The Chronicle,  February 11, 2014  |  By Chris Calcino

Sydney developer to bring 43 townhouses to city

Sydney-based developers Thirdi Property plan to build 43 townhouses across three master-planned communities in Newtown and Wilsonton.

 A NEW developer is moving into Toowoomba with plans to build 43 townhouses across three locations in Newtown and Wilsonton.
Sydney-based Thirdi Property has draped banners across temporary fences beside the former Orfords Refrigeration complex in Newtown spruiking the new "Clifton Apartments".
Its website claims the complexes will boast "some of the best two and three-bedroom townhouses available in Toowoomba".
The company plans to spend $14 million building the 43 townhouses and "master-planned communities" - eight units on Blake St in Wilsonton, nine on Anzac Ave and 26 on Vacy St in Newtown.
It has already made a call for expressions of interest for potential buyers to get on board early.
The project will provide a shot in the arm to the city's lagging small-lot housing development and council's aim to have 500 new units built across the Toowoomba region each year.
Thirdi's website states The Clifton On Blake will be delivered by August this year, with the Anzac Ave to follow in October and Vacy St to be finished by November.
Arden Vale homes has been contracted for the building work.

One world, millions of stereotypes

One Map Shows the Entire World in Stereotypes

The Huffington Post, 5/28/14  By Katherine Brooks

The world is filled with stereotypes. Whether the glaring generalizations hit close to home or bearno resemblance to reality, widely held beliefs about people, places and things can be heard 'round the globe. We laugh at them, wrongly perpetuate them and rightly take offense at them. But they'll likely never, ever go away.
So one artist has taken it upon himself to document all of these mischievous conventions -- or, at least, 1800 of them. Martin Vargic created an entire world map recording stereotypes on every continent and in every sea. The result is a flurry of words populating each corner of the world, revealing the strange and hackneyed cliches from Russia to India to Mexico and back again.
According to The Independent, it took Vargic three months to finish his massive illustration, based on publicly available geographic data and a slew of bizarre labels, some of which you might find familiar, others not so much. Vargic places the word "Ginger" in Ireland, "Gun Nuts" in the United States and "Bratwurst" in Germany. And then there are the more absurd: "Pubes" in France, "Feral Monks" in China and "Meh" in Latvia.
You can see a complete map of Vargic's strange masterpiece here (with the option to zoom in and explore the land of misfit stereotypes). You can also preview some of the close-ups below. Enjoy, and be warned, the artwork is anything but PC.
(It's too bad the Huffington Post believes its readers are so delicate and emotionally weak that they need to be warned that there are things in the world that aren't PC. Or maybe it's the HP that's emotionally frail overly concerned.)

North America and Mexico

Three to read in the Review

There are three pieces in the Lake Oswego Review this week, all saying about the same thing.  Add these to the one last week by Jim Bolland, and you have a very powerful statement about the political scene in Lake Oswego.  The question is, what is going to change a very lopsided power structure in this Lake Oswego?  Surely the citizens of this city expect and deserve a government that is responsive to them and not to power groups hiding in the shadows, or even hiding in plain sight.

City Council: Take charge and set the course
Lake Oswego Review  |  May 29, 2014  |  By Gerry Good

Who is really in charge of our city’s direction — citizens? City Council? City employees? Last week Jim Bolland wrote about Total Maximum Daily Load (“Staff should implement policy, not create it”).
Numerous other issues have similar patterns.
It would appear that our new city manager is empowering city employees (often called staff) to set direction regardless of what citizens, and perhaps, even the City Council think.   
Use link above to read the remainder of this Citizen's View.  

Time to rein in city staff?
Janine Dunphy
Lake Oswego
The City Council held a study session May 13th. Please take time to view it on the city’s website, www.ci.oswego.or.us/meetings. Start at the 20-minute mark.
I do not have a Sensitive Lands property, but have followed this issue for years. I believe the program is arbitrary, political, broken and needs the overhaul that has been promised. Why is there an effort to prevent the needed changes? What is going on at City Hall?  Your property could be taken next.
Read more in the Lake Oswego Review, Letters to the Editor, May 29, 2014

It's time to wake up to what is happening in Lake Oswego
Lake Oswego Review  |  May 29, 2014  |  By Dianne Cassidy
If this TMDL were accepted by the DEQ, Lake Oswego would be headed on a path of no return that is in opposition to the direction of City Council’s efforts and any relief for property owners. Before the City Council could even get a chance to present any alternatives to the Sensitive Lands program, the TMDL would have already undermined the whole effort. And nobody would have even known until it was too late — if one person hadn’t been watching.
Use the link above to read the remainder of this Citizen's View.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Notice of Public Hearing for Sale of City Property


Sale of City Property – 4101 Kruse Way (West End Building property); 4403 Kruse Way
Hearing Date, Time, and Location
Tuesday, June 3, 6:30 p.m.
City Council Chambers
380 A Avenue
Lake Oswego, OR 97034
Nature of Hearing
The Lake Oswego City Council will hold a public hearing to consider approving the sale of two parcels of City-owned property at 4101 Kruse Way, Lake Oswego, Oregon (the West End Building property), plus an adjacent City-owned parcel at 4403 Kruse Way . The proposed use of the property is for one or more of the uses currently allowed by a General Commercial zone designation. The proposed sale is being considered because the benefit from returning the property to private use, reducing the burden on City resources, and restoring tax revenue from the premises, outweighs the benefit of retaining the property for potential public uses.
Staff Contacts
Inquiries regarding the proposed sale may be directed to Brant Williams, Redevelopment Director, 503-635-6138.
For information about the public hearing procedures, contact Catherine Schneider, City Recorder, 503-675-3984.
How to Comment
Written comments to:
Catherine Schneider, City Recorder Phone: 503-675-3984
Third Floor, City Hall Fax: 503-697-6594
380 A Avenue e-mail: cschneider@ci.oswego.or.us
Post Office Box 369
Lake Oswego, Oregon 97034
You may attend the hearing and comment under the section for public testimony. For more about the hearing procedures, contact staff.
Time Limits on Testimony
The purpose of time limits on testimony is to provide all interested persons with an adequate opportunity to present and respond to testimony while at the same time ensuring that the hearing can be conducted in an efficient and expeditious manner. A time limit on testimony of three minutes per person and five minutes for representatives of recognized neighborhood or homeowner associations, government agencies, or other incorporated public interest organizations, shall be observed, but may be changed by the Council.
Publish 05/29/2014. LOR13094

Redacted - Part 2

The letter writer in the previous post, "Redacted", is from Sydney, Australia.
The city it is being compared to is Paris, France.

It always gives me pause to see how far and wide the Smart Growth (or New Urbanism) movement has grown, and wonder where it all started.  As the New World keeps trying to emulate European models, the ideas intermingle, yet they all come back to the same theme of stack-and-pack density.  The story of a never-ending population growth will wait for another day.

These are a few of the countries that embrace the concepts of compact cities, typically with predictions of climate disruption disaster or a demographic abyss if we don't make major changes in our way of life and live like the all-knowing bureaucrats tell us to.

Australia | Brazil | Canada | China | Denmark | France | Great Britain | Holland | Saudi Arabia | South Africa | Sweden  | United States... and more.

A cookie-cutter land use plan for a future of cookie-cutter countries in a cookie-cutter world.  How's that for Placemaking?




I only remember where 2 of the cities above are from anymore, but the point is that 
except for the weather, it really doesn't matter.  

Still true after 7 years. Thank you Bob

Some things never change.  Change a few details, and this 7-year-old column sounds like it could be written today.  Citizens are still in the position of worrying about how high the cost of living has gone and what else can they expect in the future.  A few are already leaving town because it has become unaffordable - not the housing, they already owned a house - but the utility fees and others that eat away at their essential needs or standard of living.

Many people keep asking, what are we doing all of this for?  Why do we need such a glitzy Lake Grove, and isn't downtown fixed up yet?  Rather than continue on an expensive path, City Council should stop and ask themselves why the city is doing what it is, and what is actually needed or wanted.   All citizens need to know their finances and way of life are secure in Lake Oswego.

Lake Oswegans: Get ready to ante up

Get out your check books, Lake Oswego. In the near future, city council plans to saddle you with hundreds of millions of dollars of new public debt.
The city is already carrying a debt load of $59 million through six General Obligation Bonds, two Revenue Bonds and one recently refinanced Urban Renewal Bond. Last year, annual revenues exceeded expenses by about $8 million. But over the next few years immense new expenditures are planned.
Some proposed expenditures are:
o  In Lake Sewer Interceptor: $65 million.
o  Decommission Tryon Creek Sewer Plant: $45 to $125 million.
o  Break BES contract with Portland: $12 million.
o  Storm Water System Improvements: $20 million.
o  Community Center: $60 million.
o  Urban Renewal, Foothills: $20 million.
o  Urban Renewal, Lake Grove: $42 million.
o  Streetcar: $20 to $30 million.
Some of the new debt is unavoidable. Neglected for more than a decade, the failing sewer system can no longer be ignored. The main sewer line beneath the lake needs to be replaced at a potential cost of $65 million and our problems do not end there. Storm water improvements will cost another $20 million. Antiquated pipe system must be replaced and relocated, which may involve lowering the lake two years in a row.


Sorry honey, 
I didn't get it all done, but I'll get back to housekeeping in Part B.

The Planning Commission held a Public Hearing last night for the Annual Housekeeping Code Amendments.  For those who didn't watch the hearing on TV, there were several decisions you might like to know about.

"May" or "Shall"
The wording in the code regarding the number of stories downtown buildings may have is very important, and the decision between "may" and "shall" means a great deal.  Staff said the word "shall" was inadvertently changed to "may" during the code reorganization a few years ago. The mistake did not not come to their attention until the DRC hearing on the Wizer development.  Commissioners discussed whether changing the wording would have the effect of making a policy change from the existing status, and if it could lead to court actions.  There was concern that if  the wording were changed now, then Wizer Block developers might withdraw their application and resubmit it using the revised code, and that more development could occur before the City Council could make any policy decision.
  • The Commission decided to keep the wording as is.  
Downtown Parking
Code amendments would apply new parking standards and modifiers that would reduce the amount of parking required by new development.  Example:  Since there is a good supply of on-street parking in downtown now, new construction could reduce their on-site parking requirement by 0.75%.  LONAC's position is that one big development could easily wipe out all available on-street parking, and at the same time max out the functional capacity of of streets and intersections causing congestion and road standard failure.   Future development would be seriously impacted, as well as residents of nearby residential areas.  The city had an obligation to deal with what is a known problem before it becomes a disaster.

Another big problem for the Commission and the public was that Planning staff brought a multi-page revision of the parking section with them to be reviewed and decided upon that night.  The Commission rightly took them to task for the timing on this, as neither the Commission nor the public got a chance to see and comment on the revisions prior to the hearing.
  • The Commission tabled this section of the code package in order to get a briefing from a Chamber of Commerce Task force that will study parking.  The Chamber did a thorough study a few years ago which determined there was insufficient parking in the East End core now, without any new development.  Commissioner, Adrianne Brockman, suggested that the task force use national parking standards to determine no. of spaces needed per building use.   
"Roadway" or "Pavement"
This code amendment sought to clarify what a "roadway" is by adding what "pavement" means.  On roads that have no sidewalk or curb and gutter, the idea was to include as public (street?) all paved areas that extended beyond the natural, perceived edge of the road (the shoulders).  This brings up some big issues: What are these areas to be used for?  Many, most or all were installed by homeowners - would the city or homeowner rebuild or maintain them?  Why are planners suggesting this very odd road alignment in the first place?  Is the goal for the city to create this new code for just the downtown area to accommodate the city and add on-street parking for developers' needs?

There are more questions.  It is known that some within the engineering and planning staff would like the neighborhoods in the downtown area to be more urban with wider streets and lots of concrete sidewalks and curbs.  Just like Portland.  Is this a first step toward taking over parts of the soft-shouldered streets to get to their end goal?  Nothing would surprise me in explaining this very odd idea.
  • The Planning Commission  moved the discussion to the Housekeeping Part B section (next meeting) that deals with codes that might have Measure 56 consequences.
Front Porches
The First Addition Neighborhood is having trouble with the City's interpretation of their own codes requiring a front porch on new construction.  This applies to corner lots, but the staff has been allowing some new homes to have a "dummy" porch facing the frontage street and making the side street their front entry instead.  But it also appears that the homes follow the same setbacks (size of side yard or front and rear setbacks) as if the house had a frontage on the main street.  One Commissioner noted that the code was clear as written and everyone could see that.  But it is also clear that some planners cannot.
  • The Commissioners asked that the code be.moved to the Housekeeping Code Amendments Part B Hearing also.
Keep checking the city website for updates on Part B of the Annual Housekeeping 
Code Amendments for documents, background report, and who knows, new code?  

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Beauty not beast

While algae can be a nuisance or even toxic, it can also be quite beautiful.

Images of Microscopic Algae 
See more images at link above.

Beautiful Photos of Beautifully Arranged Microscopic Algae 
Put Science in Perspective 
Click on the link below to see all 20 photos and read the explanatory text.
Huffington Post   |    February 7, 2014

Images of diodes from the California Academy of Sciences.

Is this the problem?

It's been 8 years, but I wonder.

From the Lake Oswego Review

 |  |
The City of Lake Oswego and Lake Corporation veil lake pollution

Too bad there are no records of what went on in the private meetings.  Over the years memories only get worse.  And things at City Hall are pretty much the same if all they do is say that the public was free to ask for the documents.  How were citizens supposed to know about items that didn't exist or  were only discussed in private?  City Hall should have open doors and staff should be helping people find answers to what they are looking for (the people's business), not making them play guessing games to get it.




Tuesday, May 27, 2014


This came across my desk today.  Can you identify where this came from and what city the author is comparing his/hers to?  

* * * * * * * * * *

Is traffic making you mad?  Commuters at a standstill, delays, nowhere to park.  With higher densities the greater concentration of people in an area means more traffic.  We see this all around the world.  The greater the density the greater the traffic.

Planning policies are about to make this infinitely worse.  Have you noticed the steady deterioration since the Government began applying high-density policies?  We recently perceived a faint glimmer of hope when the government stalled on forcing high-density into communities and instead briefly concentrated on developing the periphery of the city.  This is now being reversed.  In what is becoming a Sydney-wide trend, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that high-rise is being planned for Epping and  Lidcombe.  There are many others in the pipeline.

High-density planners say Sydney           should emulate Paris                  where they tell us everyone goes by public transport.  Sure, central Paris               , the part that tourists and planners see, is well-served with public transport.  But they do not seem to see the much larger balance of metropolitan P     aris           which is badly served by public transport.  The small area of central Paris                   cannot be considered a separate entity, all Paris                areas are interdependent.  In fact most journeys in Pari     s           are by car – only 24% are by public transport.

Congestion brings pollution.  Air pollution kills more people than traffic accidents. See the attached article from the  Australian Financial review of 19 March 2014 “Polluted Pa            ris           imposes car bans”.

Unless we wake up, this is our future.  Don’t believe the planners.  Paris           is no panacea.  Congestion, pollution, nowhere to park.  Save Our Suburbs proposes much more acceptable planning policies.

Monday, May 26, 2014

CC road funding options

Clackamas County is starting its 2014-2015 Budget process this week.  As with just about all jurisdictions, road maintenance expenses are the big black hole in the picture.  By state law, no property tax money can be used for road maintenance, so all money for roads must come from other sources - gas taxes, street fees, and the like.  Read County Roads and Road Funding on the County website.  While there are still decisions to be made, you might want to look at the County's options and see what might work best for you.  

Below, the option most favored by county citizens (sample of those most likely to vote) is the VRF - Vehicle Registration Fee.  This fee came up for a vote a few years ago when Multnomah County was looking for help funding the new Sellwood Bridge.  At that time the fee would have been $5 per car per year.  The County can impose a fee of any amount up to the state vehicle registration charge, but not over.  With this option, proceeds would be shared with cities in the county.  

Of the remaining options, creating a road taxing district tied to property value would have a big impact on Lake Oswego taxpayers who are already struggling with rising costs of living.  

If you have an opinion about how the county should fund road repairs, let the Board of Commissioners know.  Now.  

Clackamas County survey of road funding options:  (4/22/14)

Support for Tax or Fee Options 

A County vehicle registration fee with a set charge per vehicle per year    
| 13% | 26% | 13% | 43% |

County-wide gas tax added on to each gallon of gas purchased in the County 
| 12% | 25% | 12% | 48% |

A dedicated County road taxing district with a payment for road maintenance based on the assessed value of property
| 6% | 23% | 19% | 45% |

A transportation utility fee charged to County residents/businesses with a monthly bill
| 6% | 23% | 19% | 45% |

     Strongly support        Smwt support        Smwt oppose          Strongly oppose
page13image10700 page13image10784 page13image10868

Sunday, May 25, 2014

"What starts here changes the world"

New York Post, May 24, 2014
"What starts here changes the world." 
Motto of the University of Texas

10 life lessons from the SEAL who 
led the mission on Bin Laden

By William H. McRaven

William H. McRaven is a Navy admiral, former commander of SEAL Team 3 and current commander of the US Special Operations Command — the man who led the mission to get Osama bin Laden. On May 17, he gave the commencement address for his alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin, which touched graduates with its earnest, simple advice about living a better life. 
This Memorial Day, an excerpt: (Edited for length for this blog; See the New York Post  for the full article and for a video of Adm. McRaven speaking at the UT graduation ceremony.)
If you will humor this old sailor for just a moment, I have a few suggestions that may help you on your way to a better world.  And while these lessons were learned during my time in the military, I can assure you that it matters not whether you ever served a day in uniform.  It matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your orientation, or your social status.  Our struggles in this world are similar and the lessons to overcome those struggles and to move forward — changing ourselves and the world around us — will apply equally to all.
I have been a Navy SEAL for 36 years. But it all began when I left UT for Basic SEAL training in Coronado, California.  Basic SEAL training is six months of long torturous runs in the soft sand, midnight swims in the cold water off San Diego, obstacles courses, unending calisthenics, days without sleep and always being cold, wet and miserable.
It is six months of being constantly harassed by professionally trained warriors who seek to find the weak of mind and body and eliminate them from ever becoming a Navy SEAL.  But, the training also seeks to find those students who can lead in an environment of constant stress, chaos, failure and hardships.  To me basic SEAL training was a lifetime of challenges crammed into six months.
So, here are the 10 lessons I learned from basic SEAL training that hopefully will be of value to you as you move forward in life:
1.   If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.
By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.
If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made — and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.
If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.
2.    For the boat to make it to its destination, everyone must paddle.
You can’t change the world alone — you will need some help — and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the good will of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them.
If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.

3.     SEAL training was a great equalizer. Nothing mattered but your will to succeed. Not your color, not your ethnic background, not your education and not your social status.

If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.
4.      There were many a student who just couldn’t accept the fact that all their effort was in vain. That no matter how hard they tried to get the uniform right — it was unappreciated.  Those students didn’t make it through training.

Those students didn’t understand the purpose of the drill. You were never going to succeed. You were never going to have a perfect uniform.  Sometimes no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform, you still end up as a sugar cookie.
It’s just the way life is sometimes.
If you want to change the world, get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.
5.    But at some time during SEAL training, everyone — everyone — made the circus list.
But an interesting thing happened to those who were constantly on the list.  Over time those students — who did two hours of extra calisthenics — got stronger and stronger. The pain of the circuses built inner strength-built physical resiliency.
Life is filled with circuses. You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core.
But if you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.
6.    Instead of swinging his body underneath the rope and inching his way down, he bravely mounted the TOP of the rope and thrust himself forward. It was a dangerous move — seemingly foolish and fraught with risk. Failure could mean injury and being dropped from the training.
Without hesitation — the student slid down the rope — perilously fast, instead of several minutes, it only took him half that time and by the end of the course he had broken the record.
If you want to change the world, sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head-first.
7.    But, you are also taught that if a shark begins to circle your position — stand your ground. Do not swim away. Do not act afraid. And if the shark, hungry for a midnight snack, darts towards you — then summon up all your strength and punch him in the snout and he will turn and swim away.
There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim, you will have to deal with them.
So, if you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.
8.    Every SEAL knows that under the keel, at the darkest moment of the mission — is the time when you must be calm, composed — when all your tactical skills, your physical power and all your inner strength must be brought to bear.

If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.
9.    If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person — Washington, Lincoln, King, Mandela and even a young girl from Pakistan, Malala — one person can change the world by giving people hope.
So, if you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.
10.    Finally, in SEAL training there is a bell. A brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see. All you have to do to quit — is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 o’clock. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing-cold swims. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT — and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training.
Just ring the bell. 
If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.
It will not be easy.  But start each day with a task completed.  Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone.  Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if you take some risks, step up when times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up - if you do these things, then the next generation and generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today.  And what started here will indeed have changed the world, for the better.
(Last paragraph is from WSJ summary of the same address.)

'Seeing Flowers'

Enjoy the WSJ photo gallery of a dozen images of flowers as you've never seen them.

Wall Street JournalMay 23, 2014 

Seeing Flowers'

In 'Seeing Flowers: Discover the Hidden Life of Flowers,' by Robert Llewellyn and Teri Dunn Chace, Mr. Llewellyn photographed each of the book's 343 images anywhere from eight to more than 50 times. He created the final photograph using special stitching software to put every part of the flower in focus. Ms. Chace describes the science behind it all.

Purple Sensation' Allium
Small, individual flowers, each showing off classic lily family flower parts in sets of six, jumble together in exuberant display.

Passionflower (Passiflora caerulea)
From the time early Spanish missionaries 'discovered' it in Mexico, perhaps no other flower has so engaged public fancy.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Reminder of Public Hearing on Codes this week

I am re-posting this notice to remind everyone to read the Annual Code Amendments and prepare testimony for the Planning Commission Public Hearing on Wednesday night.  Follow the links below to find more information on the codes.  Written testimony is preferred at least a day ahead, but both written and in-person testimony is best.mm

A new broom sweeps clean,
But an old broom knows where the corners are.  -- Proverb

Annual Code Updates:  What You Should Know
(Also referred to as "housekeeping")

The Community Development Code Annual Housekeeping Amendments  (LU14-0014) carry some surprises.  Housekeeping is the wrong term however, since some residents would rather sweep these revisions out the door, not invite them in.  Below is just one example of what is in the document that people are not happy with - changes that break long-standing agreements, projects in progress or are a misrepresentation of the source, etc.

Exhibit  "A" LU  13-0014 (from the chart on the linked report -see above)
DESCRIPTION.                            SOURCE          CODE. REF.     M56.  Geog Area.      Notes
6   Replaces "may" with "shall"       Code Re‐Org.
      in Downtown Overlay re:           mistake
      Fourth Floor  

Let's compare the revision (above)  to the code as currently written (below):

d.    Number of Stories
New buildings shall be at least two stories tall, and new and remodeled building shall be no greater than three stories tall, except:
i.    Fourth Story
A fourth story may be permitted subject the following:
(1)    The fourth story is residential and is contained within a gabled or hipped roof;
(2)    The site is sloping and the structure has three or fewer stories on the uphill side;
(3)    The fourth story is significantly stepped back from the building plane created by the lower stories; or
(4)    Fourth story design elements are used to break up the mass of a building, create visual interest and variety, hide mechanical equipment, define an entry or define a particular building’s function. Examples of such design elements include dormers, towers, turrets, clerestories, and similar features.
"May" as currently written, implies that there would be a situation where a fourth story "may not" be permitted. This makes the fourth story of buildings within the Downtown Overlay at most three stories, and in some situations, there "may" be a fourth.  There is no criteria for when a building may or may not meet the qualifications for gaining a fourth floor, so one can assume it is left to the DRC and/or the City Council to decide.  The code makes the fourth floor discretionary.

Changing "may" to "shall" switches the rule to mean that: A fourth floor "shall" be permitted if the subsequent conditions are adhered to.  There is no discretion in this wording - either the applicant can or cannot have a fourth floor depending upon if he wants to complete a defined set of requirements.

This might apply to buildings like the Wizer Block and any new development downtown.  In its current form, it can be argued that the code only allows 3 stories outright, while a change to "shall" would make the fourth floor a right of the developer.  The code revisions do not have any explanatory paragraph describing the staff's error and the repercussions of changing the code at this particular date when the Wizer application has not been completed, and there are several other big developments being planned for downtown.  No matter, it's just one little word in the Annual Housekeeping Amendments.

Note:  I am not an attorney.  Consult an attorney for a professional, legal opinion of the discussion above.  The thoughts expressed above are my own opinions.

Redevelopment Resurrection?

Redevelopment money isn't free or painless, it has to come from somewhere, and it's always from the same source.  The new and improved California version is called, "Infrastructure Financing Districts,"  but it still runs on TIFF tax funds.  For some reason people keep forgetting TIFF is a tax, it just looks like debt to be paid later with someone else's money, and taxpayers secure the debt with their property. Only it's their money and property and they don't get to vote on it.  Clever, since government knows the public would not vote for most of the projects they get into.   See link to "Proposed 'New City'...." for one example of how California got itself into its financial mess.  No idea is too big or too small not to spend OPM on.

Redevelopment Resurrection?
Jerry Brown signals the return of abusive local agencies in a limited form. 
City Journal,  23 May 2014  By Steven Greenhut
Sometimes the right things happen for the wrong reason, such as when California governor Jerry Brown signed budget legislation in 2011 to shut down the state’s ham-fisted redevelopment agencies. Brown’s opposition to redevelopment had nothing to do with fidelity to private-property rights or disdain for eminent-domain abuse; it was a fiscal expedient to find money in a tight budget year. The agencies had siphoned 12 percent of the state’s budget annually from traditional public services—public education, firefighting, and the like—and directed it toward local economic-development projects. They also distorted local economies, subsidized developers, and abused property owners. Now that the state’s budget outlook has improved at least superficially, the agencies could make a comeback.

Continue reading this article at :  City Journal

USC offers the podcast below and offers it for education on California (and Oregon?) financial situation.  There are good points made, but I do not have enough information to endorse the entire podcast.  Is this scenario predictive of where America is headed with a tax-and-spend political system?  We're already on the path.  

Listen to Podcast of interview with James V. Lacy, author of "Taxifornia: Liberals' Laboratory to Bankrupt America".