Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A bitter pill

A Bitter Pill


After a panel of experts on the Development Review Commission voted to deny the Wizer Block application, Wednesday night, a group of 5 elected lay people on the City Council decided to reverse that decision.
  • Which body was most likely to be the best informed about codes and least likely to be swayed by politics and public opinion?  
  • Which body has members who have had prior relationships with members of the applicant team, and can be expected to continue to use their services? 
  • Which body spent their time lecturing, admonishing and informing the public rather than deliberating among themselves about their reasoning?  
  • After 20 minutes, was there any doubt which way any of the Councilors would vote - or did the public expect (and deserve) a spirited debate on the merits of the testimonials they heard?  
Where are we now?

In hindsight, it should have been evident what the result would be given the Hired Guns' high level of confidence in a favorable decision on Wednesday night.  It is rare that a City Council will overturn a quasi-judicial decision made by experts.  A policy decision is another matter.  It appears that testimony by the opposition was a farce that opponents had to go through to get to LUBA, but it was a bitter pill nonetheless.  How did this Council turn out to be so much like the previous one where rules are manipulated to favor a particular agenda?  They fell into the trap of the self-serving Kessi group who have been twisting code and manipulating people since the beginning.

The tragedy here is not only the trajectory of the physical space we call our home - but how we are allowing others to define it for us - with some of those people being paid with our tax dollars.  A number of years ago, the city, local citizens and a developer (Barry Cain),
             worked collaboratively 
to design a project, Lake View Village, that has been the jewel the city has proudly pointed to as an example of what they intended for the future of downtown.  We got here together.  Millennium Park, a key element of downtown development, would ultimately raise the value of Gene Wizer's land.  We did that too.  It is sad to think that the promise that block has to offer the city - a gem to match the success next door - is being squandered, along with trust in city hall.  For what?

It is a tragedy that the same developer who worked so hard mor than a decade ago, and some of the same citizens are now fighting a similar battle, with the city now sitting on the other side of the fence.  Rules that were in place in 2002 and 2005 and  kept previous projects in check with regard to mass and scale and the intent and description in the UDP for this to be a small-scale village.  The rules have not changed.  Only the people in city hall have.

The DRC understood the intent and interpretation of the codes that call for a small-scale city, but the code has become a political football: stick to the original plan, or move into the Age of Metro, high density and big-box warehouses for people with commercial success and utopian vibrancy.
Let's destroy all our towns and villages to be part of this generation's version of grand, unrealistic Utopian, Smart Growth schemes that generously rewards developers, but not their neighbors.  The Central Planners' hubris is their confidence to predict the future and control human nature.  Only totalitarian governments can change human behavior by force - they have not yet been able to change the human heart.

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