Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

KLOG and LOCAL debate ideas: Part 1 of 2

Part 1:  Looking back in time gives clarity to the choices we are making for our future.  In 2012, an election year that had the potential to change the course of city politics - at least for awhile - two PACs explained what their groups value in city government and the councilors/mayor they elect.

Some things have changed in 2 years; for some not enough, and for others too much.  In 2014 and presumably again in 2016, the same parties, the same ideas will be in contest with one another for your hearts, minds, and votes.

It is time to refresh the debate and remember what the election for City Council is all about.

Citizen's View: Preserve what makes us one of the 10 best towns

Lake Oswego has been designated one of the “10 Best Towns for Families” in Family Circle’s August 2012 issue. This annual review by the magazine assessed which places best met its family-friendly criteria — including affordable homes, high-quality schools, spirit of giving, green space, low crime rate and financial stability.

Lake Oswego is a wonderful community and the very qualities sited by Family Circle are what drew my family to Lake Oswego 22 years ago. I know that it continues to draw many new families as I watch homes in my neighborhood sell to young families.
As a city councilor and former planning commissioner, I also know that there are plans and policies in place, and more being developed, that will alter the character of our town. The qualities for which we are currently being honored are at risk.
The small-town Lake Oswego that most of us cherish is threatened by the actions of the last decade. This recent city focus has been on fulfilling the regional Metro agenda. Our city’s Comprehensive Plan is currently undergoing a complete alteration to achieve this regional vision by the same consultants who developed Metro’s 2040 Growth Plan and the Portland Plan. This makeover of our Comprehensive Plan will create a “vision” that reflects regional planning ideals and policies, rather than what we as citizens value about our community.
In fact, it is this focus on the regional agenda at the expense of our town that is the source of most of the conflict on council. From the streetcar project that is currently on hold, to the city’s collaboration with the South Waterfront developers for a new Foothills district, to the expensive three-year “visioning” project, we are in danger of becoming a dense, debt-ridden city like Portland in order to achieve the regional vision. Policies are being developed that will increase density deeper into our neighborhoods and drastically reduce available parking. There is also a suggestion to create a city housing program and to subsidize “affordable housing." Yet another costly government bureaucracy!
Meanwhile, our essential city services are neglected. Street, parks and natural area maintenance are being deferred, and our operations facility is crumbling. And, critically, our city debt is skyrocketing. The massive water project with Tigard, two new urban renewal districts requiring “loans” from the general fund to get started and many city facilities needing replacement could double our debt load over the next several years.
Like most of you, I care deeply about the future of our town. That’s why I’ve helped form Lake Oswego Citizens Action League (LOCAL). LOCAL is focused on ensuring a city government that:
• prioritizes local needs
• restores fiscal responsibility
• refocuses on essential city services
• preserves local community character
• respects all citizens and their rights
Family Circle recognized that we already have affordable homes, caring citizens and financial stability. Let’s continue to cherish the qualities we value, while enhancing our community’s opportunities into the future. I hope you’ll join me, and all the other citizens who share our LOCAL values, to create a new direction for our town. Please visit LOCitizens.com

Mary Olson is a Lake Oswego City Councilor.

Disclaimer:  USC is a member of LOCAL

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