Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Friday, October 31, 2014

The real value of $100

To see a map of the country's metropolitan areas and how far $100 goes, use this link to see the MAP from the Tax Foundation.  There are more maps and statistics on similar topics within links on this website.  

The Real Value of $100 in Metropolitan Areas

Alan Cole, Lyman Stone, Tom VanAntwerp, Richard Borean
We recently published a map showing how far $100 would take you in different states. For example, in states with low costs of living, like Arkansas, $100 had the same sort of purchasing power that $115 would have in an average state.
We got a lot of requests – particularly from upstate New Yorkers - for a map of purchasing power that separates out cities from non-metropolitan areas. Fortunately, that data is available from the BEA’s interactive tables, and we have created an interactive map of purchasing power down to the city level.

Is this the people's house?

No wonder politicians continually proclaim their humble roots and struggles to make it.  How well can economic and educational elites truly represent the(ir) people?

The People's House
Wall Street Journal, October 30, 2014  By Randy Yeip and Casey Miller

The U.S. House of Representatives was envisioned as a house of the people, directly elected by voters and reflecting their will. But what if Congress also reflected its constituents’ demographics? Explore how members of the House compare with residents of each of the 435 congressional districts, based on the predominant characteristics within each. Then see how your district stacks up.

Click HERE to see the interactive graph. 
Check also to see how the 5th District compares to national statistics. 

This is your brain on drugs

I'm veering off of my usual topics to post a link to an article I read on the NYT website today.  I believe we should have laws that criminalize the use of marijuana for a variety of reasons - mostly to protect children and young adults.  I have heard the arguments that kids will get the drug anyway, but legalizing it takes it a step further.  Newer research is showing what serious, long-lasting harm the drug can do. No matter how you feel on the subject of marijuana legalization, I hope you find this interesting.

This Is Your Brain On Drugs 
New York Times, October 29, 2014   By Abigale Sullivan Moore

Excerpts - Read the entire article on the NYT website.

Dr. Gilman was reviewing a composite scan of the brains of 20 pot smokers, ages 18 to 25. What she and fellow researchers at Harvard and Northwestern University found within those scans surprised them. Even in the seven participants who smoked only once or twice a week, there was evidence of structural differences in two significant regions of the brain. The more the subjects smoked, the greater the differences.

But it has long been known that, with the brain developing into the mid-20s, young people who smoke early and often are more likely to have learning and mental health problems. Now researchers suggest existing studies are no longer sufficient. Much of what’s known is based on studies conducted years ago with much less powerful pot.

All smokers showed abnormalities in the shape, density and volume of the nucleus accumbens, which “is at the core of motivation, the core of pleasure and pain, and every decision that you make,” explained Dr. Hans Breiter, a co-author of the study and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern’s medical school.  

Similar changes affected the amygdala, which is fundamental in processing emotions, memories and fear responses.  

What is already known is that in casual users, THC can disrupt focus, working memory, decision making and motivation for about 24 hours.  "The fact that we can see these structural effects of THC are longer lasting than we previously thought," said Dr. Gilman, an instructor in psychology at Harvard's medical school. 

Image Description:A Harvard-Northwestern study has found differences between the brains of young adult marijuana smokers and those of nonsmokers. In these composite scans, colors represent the differences — in the shape of the amygdala, top, and nucleus accumbens. Yellow indicates areas that are most different, red the least.Credit The Journal of Neuroscience

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Granfalloons and Groupthink

Granfalloons..Groupthink ... Hypnotism ... Persuasion 

Changing Minds
"How we change what others think, feel, believe and do."  

In so many cases One has to wonder why people do what they do, why trust is so important, how groups and individuals act alone and together, etc.  You might want to check out this website and re-live that Social Psychology 101 class you had in college.  
Status, In-Groups, Work Groups, Sequential Requests, Conspiracy, Propaganda, Happiness...  and much, much more!  Example:

Status Values

I must maintain or advance my status

Higher status people must be obeyed and admired

New Zealand admits what America won't


The political leadership and others in New Zealand are talking about the consequences of its land use policies. Under the "urban containment" land use policy (also called by terms like "smart growth," "growth management," and "livability") in effect in every urban area, house prices have doubled relative to incomes over the last 25 years. The principal causes have been the restrictions inherent in urban containment policy, such as making most suburban land off limits for housing development, (which raises its price, like rationing oil raises the price of gasoline), and requirements for upfront payment of large development impact fees (which can also be higher than they need to be). The association between urban containment policy and unaffordable housing is consistent with both with both economic theory and also considerable economic research. The title of a report by Paul Cheshire, Professor of Economic Geography at the London School of Economics best indicates the reality: "Urban Containment, Housing Affordability, Price Stability - Irreconcilable Goals." 

New Zealand Housing Unaffordability and Consequences 

According to the 10th Annual Demographia Housing Affordability Survey, Auckland, the nation's largest city is now the 7th least affordable out of 85 major metropolitan markets rated. Obviously, when houses cost more than necessary, households have less discretionary income. The second consequence is greater poverty. When the price of housing rises, discretionary income can fall enough to force lower income households into poverty. 
Land Use Policies Blamed for Poverty and Greater Inequality

Minister English had previously expressed concern about the extent to which land use policy had driven up house prices, in his preface to the 9th Annual Demographia Housing Affordability Survey: "It costs too much and takes too long to build a house in New Zealand. Land has been made artificially scarce by regulation that locks up land for development. This regulation has made land supply unresponsive to demand (see: "Unblocking Constipated Planning" in New Zealand").

Other business support comes from ANZ Bank New Zealand Chief Executive Officer David Hisco. In expressing concern noting that" "The elevator of economic progress in New Zealand has always been home ownership for everyone - right across the socioeconomic spectrum. But at the current pace of house price rises we risk creating a generation of disenfranchised, second class citizens – ‘Generation Rent.’

In noting that the poor are the "biggest victims" of Auckland's land use policies, Eric Crampton (on Kiwiblog) says that Auckland should be allowed "to build both upwards and outwards: which would be a great step in reducing child poverty." Moreover, the Prime Minister, John Key, has expressed a particular interest in reducing child poverty.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The New Class Conflict

USC has not read this book, but is a fan of the author, Joel Kotkin.   The subject is intriguing and timely - and suggests some solutions that may rewrote the yeomanry to a central position of power in American life.  This book is offered as an idea to investigate and an ideal to pursue.

Amazon Books

The New Class Conflict  Hardcover  September 1, 2014

Telling the truth about Climate Change

Truth-telling about Climate Change.  Why believe fiction when there are facts?  

October 27, Kelly File, Fox News. (Click link for video)

'Bad, Bad Science': Weather Channel Founder Says Climate Change Is a Myth

Many officials in the Obama administration - including Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama himself - have repeatedly hammered home the message that climate change is one of mankind's greatest threats.

According to Weather Channel co-founder John Coleman, however, there is no scientific proof that supports man-made climate change.

"It's very difficult for anybody to be against it because the media has told the nation day after day for 20 years that the oceans are rising, the polar bears are dying, the ice is melting, that storms are going to sweep the Earth and we're all going to die of a heat wave," Coleman said.

He added that he's not alone in doubting the science behind man-made climate change: 9,000 experts with PhD's and 31 scientists have signed a petition stating that carbon dioxide is not a significant greenhouse gas and that much of the research behind climate change is "bad, bad science."

And contrary to statistics given by climate activist Al Gore in his film "An Inconvenient Truth," the ice caps at both poles are at high levels, including record highs in Antarctica, according to Coleman.
"Not only is the ice not melting, more polar bears are alive and happy today than we've had in 100 years," Coleman concluded.

"Life is good, Mrs. Kelly. I gotta tell you, life is good."

LUBA Appeal going forward

Those who testified at the Wizer Block hearings were mailed a copy of the Notice of Intent to Appeal that was sent to LUBA.  The fight is not over.  The developer, Patrick Kessi, stated in a newspaper article that he would proceed with getting building permits and starting demolition and construction as soon as possible.  Timing of the appeal will be critical.  Starting any construction might be a gamble for the mega-block investors.  Stay tuned.  


                   LO 138, LLC; SAVE OUR VILLAGE
                   and EVERGREEN NEIGHBORHOOD
                   ASSOCIATION,                                                         LUBA No. 2014-________
                    CITY OF LAKE OSWEGO,



                                    NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a Petitioners LO 138, LLC; Save Our Village and Evergreen Neighborhood Association. ("Petitioners"), intend to appeal that land use decision of Respondent City of Lake Oswego ("Respondent") described by the City as:  "On October 7, 2014, the City Council adopted Findings, Conclusions and Order finalizing the City Council's tentative decision to reverse the Development Review Commission's decision and approve LU 13-0046," and which became final on October 7, 2014.  The land use decision is attached as Exhibit "A".


This Oregonian article has photos and statistics of many of Portland's most striking buildings.  When you finish this article, you might also be interested in more great websites on skyscrapers.

See also:

The Oregonian, August 4, 2014  By Mark Graves

Portland's skyline: Measuring and comparing the city's tallest towers (info graphics and slideshow)   

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Serving the less well off

Sounds logical, but it's not ethical

"Workforce Housing" is a type of publicly subsidized, low-income housing.  Your tax dollars go into building workforce housing, along with the taxes of the working poor who live in market-rate housing, and still find a way to scrape by.  Or not.  Sometimes he working poor don't qualify for workforce housing because they don't make enough money.  

"Workforce Housing" is defined as income-restricted housing for those making 80% of Median Area Income or less. Workforce housing was started to assist workers in very wealthy areas where an average salary for needed workers like police or teachers would not cover the local rent.  The concept has expanded across the country so that now "low income" includes those who can make their monthly rent obligations, though perhaps not in their preferred neighborhoods.

If public housing is a good idea, how far up the income ladder should the more advantaged pay for the housing needs of the less advantaged, and how should it be done?
  • For every subsidized unit that is occupied by any but the most needy, there is someone worse off that isn't being served.
  • Newly-built housing in prime locations that is out of reach for those with more resources is backwards. Those who work and struggle to get by are paying taxes so those with better incomes can live in better housing.  
  • New, government-subsidized housing costs more to build than private housing.  Section 8 vouchers are less expensive per housing unit, can serve more families, are preferred by the majority of low-income renters, and stay on the tax rolls employing people with private funds.
  • Subsidized housing is not a program to shelter the needy.  It is a program to_________ ____________________________________. (fill in the blank)

Photos: Passive House going up in Hillsboro 

Walsh Construction is building a highly efficient, transit-oriented workforce housing project in the Orenco Station neighborhood of Hillsboro for owner/developer REACH CDC. The 57-unit project, designed by Ankrom Moisan Architects, is the first phase of the Orchards at Orenco development, which over the course of three phases will total approximately 150 units. 
The $14.5 million project is being built to Passive House standards with the goal of reducing tenants’ monthly energy bills. Green Hammer is serving as a consultant on the building, which will be the largest multifamily Passive House project in the country when completed. Work on the 12-month project is slated to wrap in June 2015.

The project contains 40 one-bedroom units and 17 two-bedroom units, and is located adjacent to the Orenco/Northwest 231st Avenue MAX station.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Rocks need lawyers too!

You can't make this stuff up.  
But then, you had to see it coming, it just sounded too goofy for anyone to take seriously.  
Especially not your city, or any government!  

Have you heard of a legal theory called, the Rights of Nature?  Neither had I.  A non-profit group I had never heard of, The Oswego Lake Watershed Council, turned in proposals for Sensitive Lands code changes and referenced this movement as part of their mission.  Their talking points to the Planning Commission on 10/13 sound like the warm, fuzzy eco-centric stuff we have all gotten used to.  On their website I saw that the City of Lake Oswego and both LO junior high schools are partners with the organization.  And then I read about the "Rights of Nature."  
The legal theories are pretty wild, but there it is, on pg. 53 of 66 of the Staff Report for the 10/13 Planning Commission meeting. 

The Oswego Lake Watershed Council is not a group that speaks for most everyone in the city.  However, by attempting to control or protect private land within the watershed, they are arrogant and highly intrusive.  Since the ecosystem is their major concern, to criticize the group seems somehow politically incorrect.  It isn't. One can care about the earth AND property rights at the same time.  The OLWC should be clear about it's agenda concerning the Rights of Nature and Mother Earth.  

NOTE: USC presents this for information only and does not support or agree with organizations and theories mentioned below.

Rights of Nature is the recognition and honoring that trees, oceans, animals, mountains have rights just as human beings have rights.
-    Rather than treating nature as property under the law, rights of nature acknowledges that nature in all its life forms has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles.
-    We are individuals and organizations committed to creating human communities that respect and defend the rights of Nature.
-    We know that when we disrespect and harm Nature we diminish ourselves and impoverish our children. A human right to life and dignity is meaningless without water and wilderness.  
Rights of Nature Ethics Tribunal 
"We the people assume the authority to conduct an Ethics Tribunal for the Rights of Nature. We will investigate cases of environmental destruction, which violate the Rights of Nature.”   Prosecutor for the Earth at the first Permanent Rights of Nature Tribunal in Quito, Ecuador.   

Universal Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth
(5)  Mother Earth and all beings are entitled to all the inherent rights recognized in this Declaration without distinction of any kind, such as may be made between organic and 
inorganic beings, species, origin, use to human beings, or any other status.

See also Wikipedia, Rights of Nature.

Is Portland nearing a real-estate peak?

Supply may be exceeding demand 
What's ahead for the apartment market in Portland?

Portland in the throes of an apartment boom, and with every boom comes a bust.  The trick is in knowing when the peak of the market has come and gone.  With all the recent construction activity, the experts are wondering when the apartment market will be saturated with rental units.

The Oregonian, October 15, 2014  By Elliot Njus
Is there an end in sight to Portland apartment-building boom?  


The Hassalo on Eight development in Portland's Lloyd District, which is expected to 
deliver 657 apartments in 2015. (Elliot Njus/The Oregonian)

It's been more than three years since the Portland area's apartment building binge started.
But there's another three years of projects already in the pipeline, industry watchers say. Among them are bigger, more ambitious projects that won't come to market until 2016 or 2017.

"It's a great time to be in this business," real estate economist Jerry Johnson told a gathering of apartment managers and owners. "We believe there's still life left in this party."
But, he added, it will eventually come to a halt. "You might want to start thinking about the hangover."

Daily Jpurnal of Commerce, October 23, 2014  By Shelby King

Portland apartment sales could hit $1.3B by year’s end

Portland’s booming multifamily market isn’t profitable only for developers, but also for investors and property owners through sales.
Though the number of apartment buildings sold in the Portland area is down from this time last year, the total amount investors have paid for them is higher.
Frick said institutional buyers want to put their capital into hard assets in markets like Portland because of factors such as the strong job market and the in-migration of new residents. In addition, limitations on urban sprawl contribute to increased property values.
Boxer said she’s also seeing some of her clients selling their buildings in anticipation of values decreasing when the wave of newly constructed apartments hits the market.
“In the last three years we only added 9,000 new units,” she said. “Now there are about 23,000 planned or under construction.”
Boxer believes the Portland multifamily market is at the top of its cycle and predicts the new construction will result in approximately a 6 percent vacancy rate by this time next year.
“The amount of sales is a sure sign that some people realize we’re at the top of the multifamily real estate cycle,” Boxer said. “If you’re ever going to sell, now’s the time to sell to maximize profit.”

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

City council election update

Hold on tight!  

We're in for a wild ride!

Election Update:  Following yesterday's post, "KLOG/Chamber endorse candidates," USC has learned that among the Chamber of Commerce interviewers were the father and campaign treasurer of one of the candidates.

Mike Buck, father of Joe Buck, and Karen Jacobsen, treasurer for Joe Buck's campaign (see ORESTAR), were both involved in interviewing candidates who are running against Joe.

Since the Chamber of Commerce is a private organization, it can do what it wants, but people should know what goes on behind the curtain before they give consideration to the group's endorsements.

While it is the Chamber's organization that orchestrated this endorsement process, it casts serious questions on how independent Joe is without his support team.  This is what I would have liked to have seen a lot more of during this campaign process.

KLOG/Chamber endorse candidates

Lake Oswego Review, October 17, 2014  By (none)

Chamber, PAC endorse Gudman and Buck for Lake Oswego City Council 

The Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce and the Keep Lake Oswego Great political action committee have endorsed Jeff Gudman and Joe Buck in the race for City Council.
Chamber (of Commerce) President Doug Cushing said his organization’s board determined that Gudman and Buck “have the proven capabilities to represent business interests, promote continued infrastructure improvements and improve the commercial climate for success in Lake Oswego.”
Keep Lake Oswego Great, a political action committee that claims membership across a broad cross-section of the community, said it chose candidates who “listen respectfully, approach decision-making without a preconceived point of view and are independent thinkers unafraid to take a stand on an issue that may not be popular with the more vocal segments of our community.”
The Chamber of Commerce and the Keep Lake Oswego Great (KLOG) PAC have virtually the same key members, so it's no coincidence the groups are in sync with their endorsements.  Their positions have been in support of continued growth and density of the commercial areas, specifically favoring the streetcar, Foothills Development, Wizer Block Development, Urban Renewal districts in Foothills and Lake Grove, and keeping public agencies downtown.  

To be fair, there is a lot of crossover of members in LONAC and LOCAL, though some LONAC members do not want to be involved with anything political.  LONAC is nonpartisan and  nonpolitical, and supports neighborhood associations with regard to city affairs.   Within the LOCAL PAC, members' beliefs are spread across the political spectrum.  Their mission statement is online on their website. (See links at left.)

The statements made by the Chamber and KLOG are clear about what their priorities are for the city.  Unfortunately, neither entity mentions anything about supporting citizens or protecting neighborhoods.  Their platforms seem singularly focused on development of the Smart Growth model of "vibrant" town centers and the density they require. Developers and Metro policies are their partners in the growth and evolution of Lake Oswego.  

I find KLOG's statement about "the more vocal
segment of our community" to be particularly disturbing and contrary to the tenets of a participatory, democratic government.  Being vocal about one's concerns is hard 
 work!  It means lhours of research into the background and facts surrounding a multitude of issues which are important to the quality of life in Lake Oswego.  It can be exhausting to attend meetings, speak up at hearings, write letters, and demonstrate the courage to be public about our beliefs.  

Does KLOG think City Cpuncil is a popularity contest, and that citizens' hard work and testimony is nothing more than an Applause-O-Meter that tells The Mayor and Council which issues they got right?   That doesn't say much much about who we elect to represent us.  KLOG is a well-connected group and they know that vocal citizen involvement is the common man's way to overcome the advantage of insider influence.  

It may be out of fashion and it may be naive, but the the vocal segments of the population believe in a fair government in which leaders understand where their power and authority to govern comes from, and in the peoples' right to petition their government and be heard.  

We are vocal because our freedoms and future depend on it

Governing - learn and participate

Here's a good website to look at if you are interested in state and local governance.  I know, it's sexy.  A long list of knowledgable contributing authors and a variety of topics to peruse makes this one worth a visit.

Governing Magazine 


The growth of citizen-powered engagement platforms is a challenge for local governments, but it's a phenomenon they should embrace.
Local governments are facing new realities. Citizens' trust in government has declined, and financial constraints do not allow local governments to deliver all of the services their communities would like. In response, citizens are changing as well. Increasingly, local residents and organizations are seizing opportunities to engage with their communities in their own ways by creating platforms that bypass government.
These platforms are powered by inexpensive technology and driven by a desire for community improvement that is bottom-up. While some local governments are embracing this development, others are reacting defensively, at least initially. As this phenomenon grows, more and more local governments will be faced with the challenge of deciding what their stances should be toward these citizen-engagement platforms.

So how should local governments engage with these platforms?   Read entire article on Governing Magazine website.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The State, the Region and Damascus

Is Damascus in Clackistan?
The state create regional governments to enforce state land use rules. But do we really need Metro?  Metro is a regional government with authority to control land use, and to tax landowners within its boundaries.  The operative word is "control."  What sane person or community wants to be controlled by a bigger bully government, even if only as a "partner."


The fight for Damascus

Is town's incorporation struggle an omen for land-use future?

The leader of The Citizens for De-annexation from Damascus says some who share his views on wanting to annex to Happy Valley are holding fast to the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms.
“Thankfully it’s been peaceful so far,” Syring says. “For urban governments, I’ve never ever seen anything like it and maybe there will never be anything like it again.”
“It’s a bone of contention that we have to act like a city to provide the services that they want and need,” Ludlow says. “We hope that more and more of unincorporated Clackamas County will continue to be annexed and be a city, and better represented as a city rather than rural.”

But the board chair and former mayor of Wilsonville says he also doesn’t see a lot of movement in that direction. “I can’t foresee any area of Clackamas County will want to incorporate and that’s of grave importance to us,” Ludlow says. 

Photo Credit: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Jerry Schofield has support from his friends, Hank Brown (left) and Jim Syring, to de-annex from Damascus to Happy Valley. Schofield's fence behind him serves as the boundary line of Damascus and Happy Valley. The Damascus City Council argues the de-annexations are unconstitutional and is suing Schofield, Brown and Syring to remain in the city.


The fight for Damascus: Land-use struggle heads to ballot

Part Two: Metro planners put their hope in rural city's development

Monday, October 20, 2014

Is the multifamily party over?

What is in store for Lake Oswego?  Will we be the low-cost alternative to downtown, uptown Portland?

Daily Journal of Commerce

Multifamily party still raging

Two multifamily projects under construction on adjacent bloacks in the Pearl District – the Overton Apartments, foreground, and Block 17, background – will have a combined total of 566 units. (Sam Tenney/DJC)

At a breakfast event presented by Multifamily NW on Wednesday, speaker Greg Frick of HFO Investment Real Estate wondered aloud what multifamily investors and brokers have been wondering since the boom in new construction began: When will it end?
“The last few years in the Portland apartment industry have been the best of times,” he said. “But as we all know, every party must end. Everyone wants to know when we’ll see a transition to a renters’ market.”
Keynote speaker Jerry Johnson of Johnson Economics hinted that it may be soon.
“We’re all hoping to feel a second wind,” he said. “But it also might be time to start thinking about the hangover.”
Low vacancy rates translate to higher rents, because landlords are able to charge more due to increased demand. Johnson said there was a time when charging tenants $1 per square foot was normal. That crept up to $2 per square foot for new construction. Now, Johnson said rents have increased to the point where landlords can sometimes charge up to $3 per square foot for high-end apartments.
The predicted rise in vacancy rates could cause a drop in the amount that landlords can charge tenants.
Pricing power is decreasing, which means people will have to be smarter about what they’re delivering – and (it won’t be an owners’ market where) any idiot can make money,” Johnson said. “But in my opinion the high desire for apartments in an urban location makes the risk worth it.”
Johnson thinks that high-amenity construction in the suburbs, coupled with lower rents those areas bring, could begin to draw similar tenants who want to live downtown but can’t afford it.
“Everybody wants to live downtown,” he said. “Millennials aren’t remarkably different than baby boomers – they want the same things; they just can’t afford them.”