Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Lying with Pictures

You don't need photoshop to lie with images.

In articles about Climate Change (Global Warming, Climate Disturbance, Global Cooling, etc.), One can see how alarmists use images to sell their story.  Propaganda of all types often use exaggeration for effect - to minimize opposing views and exaggerate the worth of their own.

I ran across the following images from the "Ecocity Builders" website where I discovered the top two images that are clearly exaggerated forms of story-telling.  Ecocity is a non-profit group that wants to transform the world through how man interacts with the built and natural environment. In the first image one can see how Ecocity (and other planners) would move all humans out of the suburbs and exurbs into urban areas in order to reclaim agricultural, natural and wild areas.  These ideas aren't new.  In some plans, humans would not be allowed back into the natural areas - just nature in the neighborhood.

This is Denver.  The left side shows how the city has developed over the last century, and the right side shows the city's transformation to a more eco-friendly design favored by Smart Growth advocates.  Who would want to live in the gray, lifeless world on the left?  In comparison, we should all want to be in the lively, prettier places on the right.  Right where they want you - well, maybe not in the suburban neighborhood!

Left: Existing Denver area zoning map in black and white and too small to explain what one is seeing, and no relationship to right image.
Right: Digital, larger, image with artificial colors  "Eco-City" design (similar to Smart Growth) that clearly shows design elements.

Left: Through an airplane window - image is obscured by thick airplane window glass and distance (atmosphere.). Dull.
Right: Digital image with artificial, enhanced coloring. Pretty.

    Left: Winter: brown, lifeless. Right: Summer: Green, alive.

Top: Dark foreboding, no snow covered mountains in the background, lots of shadows.
Bottom: Beauty shot, bright colors, clear cays,
bright colors, appealing. Not like the same landscape as the airplane-window shot at all.

Friday, November 28, 2014


Canary Islands - 
Where phones and computers are a disease.

In a Word

n. speaking or talking distance, voice-range

Inhabitants of La Gomera, a small mountainous island in the Canary group, use a whistled language called the Silbo to communicate over great distances. “This is a form of telephony inferior to ours as regards range, but superior to it in so far as the only apparatus required is a sound set of teeth and a good pair of lungs,” noted Glasgow University phoneticist AndrĂ© Classe in New Scientist in 1958. “The normal carrying power is up to about four kilometres when conditions are good, over twice as much in the case of an exceptional whistler operating under the most favourable circumstances.”

The Futility Closet

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Free speech: Science or ideology?

There is a phrase in the video about judges and juries, when hearing technical, scientific arguments, might make decisions based on popular beliefs rather than science.  This is how the court of public opinion and government operates today.  Free speech needs to be protected so that no matter the topic, no matter what side one is on, the truth can be told.
Opinion Journal:
Is Questioning Climate Change Illegal? 
Wall Street Journal November 25, 2014   
Video interview.
Author Mark Steyn explains why Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann is suing him for alleged defamation.

More government, more favoritism

Tensions are building that a return to a bigger city government and more spending is in the near future.  There is talk of expantion of urban renewal and a resurrected streetcar (it is still on Metro's wish list as a project on hold).  While these are still in the rumor stages, the size and scope of the North Anchor Blocks development will be an indicator of what might be coming: how much, how big?  And most of all, who will benefit from government spending?  Public money = crony capitalism.   
Americans Not Enjoying Era of Big Government
Wall Street Journal, November 20, 2014  
By James Freeman 

After historic spending surge, most say the system is stacked against them

According to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, a full 56% of Americans agree with this statement: "The economic and political systems in the country are stacked against people 
like me." This disillusionment index has been 
rising for more than a decade and coincides with an explosion in 
the size of the federal government.

As John Cochrane suggests in our pages today, less government means people can get rich by starting companies and developing new products; more government enables people to get rich through 
political favoritism. In the era of the Beltway boom, no wonder so many people feel the deck is stacked against them.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Give thanks for private property and the marvel of America


Two essays for Thanksgiving Day:.   

Thankful for Private Property

Today Americans celebrate one of the year’s major holidays, Thanksgiving Day. It commemorates the harvest feasts of the first Pilgrim immigrants who arrived from England in 1620. But as Governor William Bradford wrote in his history of the Plymouth Colony, the settlers initially shared in common the land and the work of cultivation, and as a result the first two harvests were meager. In 1623 scarcity gave way to plenty, because the settlers divided up the land into private plots and cultivated it individually. It is to that year that we date the first true Thanksgiving. The following is an excerpt from Bradford’s “History of Plymouth Plantation”:

And the Fair Land   
This essay has run continuously since 1961.

...We can remind ourselves that for all our social discord we yet remain the longest enduring society of free men governing themselves without benefit of kings or dictators. Being so, we are the  marvel and the mystery of the world, for that enduring liberty is no less a blessing than the abundance of the earth....

How to put on the pounds. Mmmmmm...

get out the walking shoes!

Check out this website BEFORE you eat that turkey dinner.  I apologize if this takes some of the fun out of the holiday, but I will probably enjoy my dinner and just walk a bit more this week.  Stuffing, mmmmmm!

Thanksgiving Calorie Counter

How many steps and what distance must you walk to walk off that Thanksgiving dinner?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Suburbs don't make you fat

Your bacteria may be making you fat!

You see it everywhere - the propaganda that living in the suburbs is inherently unhealthy.  It's bad for the environment and it's bad for people.  Because people in the suburbs are dependent on cars, they don't get enough exercise walking and biking in a more "vibrant" town center or more dense neighborhoods built around neighborhood villages.  People have become obese because they drive everywhere.

But wait!  

I grew up in the suburbs, and obesity was rare.  It isn't the suburbs - the physical layout of houses and where shopping and services are located - fat is caused by something else.  So far the obesity culprits (never mentioned by Central Planners) are:
  • Stress, anxiety, depression, lack of sleep
  • Fast food, convenience food, eating out
  • Abundance of store-bought food, but little time to grow and cook food at home
  • Snack food and sugary drinks/sodas
  • Latchkey kids who have to stay indoors
  • Computers, video games, TV and other sedentary activities
  • Busy lives - adults all working, few stay-at-home wives or husbands
  • Parents pick their kids up from school or kids drive - kids don't walk home
None of these conditions existed when I was growing up - in the suburbs - except a few kids had cars in high school.  Life is different now, and people are fatter.  Humans weren't made to live a modern lifestyle.
Now we have one more cause to add to the list: gut bacteria.  This is fascinating research - here is a great article and video from the Wall Street Journal.  This is a cautionary tale about using too many antibiotics and antibiotics in food, but you can't blame the suburbs and cars.

People still walk and ride bikes in the suburbs.  In fact, people living in suburbs are healthier than people in either urban or rural environments.  So next time someone tries to blame obesity on the suburbs or driving cars, tell them to go take a walk - and go research their "facts."

(P.S. People in Europe and Scandinavia where most live in dense, urban areas are getting fatter too - they just have a long way to go to catch up to America.)

How to change city codes?

City codes:  If you don't like them,
 change them.
Thoughts Regarding the Wizer Block
By Mayor Kent Studebaker

Excerpts from the Mayor's monthly column in the city's newsletter, the November, 2014 Hello LO, .

Certainly, as individuals we may have had personal opinions about the pros and cons of the development but as members of your Council, we are tasked with making an objective decision based on our City Codes.

From a strictly legal standpoint, once LORA had approved the project, the decision by Council had a framework – the City Code.  If I had decided that was not enough, it would put me in a position to be subjectively judging the appropriateness of any development project. A number of people felt subjectivity would be desirable for this project. But here I have to caution – be careful what you wish for. You may not want me or other Council members to be the taste arbiters for another project. Subjectively declining a project after a developer meets Code would set a dangerous precedent that could haunt us for years to come in terms of business development in the City of Lake Oswego. If citizens want to make changes in our Code with which a majority agree, then that is an acceptable way to change things.
How does a citizen change a city code?  
What is the acceptable process?  

The city is undergoing some code changes right now - changes that may drastically change the way things are done and how the city 
might look in the future.  If a group of citizens wanted to make sure city codes restricted absolute height and number of stories (incl. height of stories), how would they do this?  With the North Anchor development looming on the horizon, if this isn't addressed, there will be more battles ahead.

Goal #1 of the state land use laws require citizen involvement in every phase of land use planning.  Citizen involvement starts at the begining when the Comp Plan is created, then when codes are developed, and when they are implemented.  

There are opportunities for citizens to listen to study sessions and comment at public hearings with the Planning Commission and City Council, but one has to be totally committed to reading and comprehending the codes, being able to articulate what is they want to see, learn to write testimony that will be acceptable to the hearing body, and then go to every meeting possible.  Even when working with a group, it's a hard slog through the minitue of bureaurocracy.  At every turn, there is an interface with planning staff who may, or more frequently, may not agree with you.  What sane person would want to do this?

At one Planning Commossion meeting this year, Commissioner Ed Brockman brought a list of ideas/suggestions for new development codes.  Deputy City Attorney Evan Boone told him that codes come from the planning staff.  Brockman put the list into his pocket and said no more.  If a member of the Planning Commission can't get their ideas across to the staff, it is clearly beyond the average citizen's cability to do so.  Even the most committed of the bunch winds up frustrated and rebuffed.  

Respectfully Mr. Studebaker, can you please elaborate on how an 

average citizen could initiate or change codes in an "acceptable" or even unacceptable way?  I understand your motivations are pure, but looking at things from this side of the fence, I wonder if we are even talking the same language.  

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Carpe Turkey Diem

Something to be thankful for: 

The real cost of a Thanksgiving dinner is 1.3% cheaper 
than last year, 21% cheaper than 1986.

Bottom Line: The fact that a family in American can celebrate Thanksgiving with a classic turkey feast for less than $50 and at a “time cost” of only 2.39 hours of work for one person (and only $32.64 or 1.58 hours of work for Walmart shoppers) means that we really have a lot to be thankful for on Thanksgiving: an abundance of cheap, affordable food. Compared to 1986, the inflation-adjusted cost of a turkey dinner today is 21% cheaper, and 26% cheaper measured in the “time cost” for the average worker. Relative to our income and relative to the cost of food in the past, food in America has never been more affordable than it is today. 

Read more at:  Something to be thankful for.

Friday, November 21, 2014

City property for rent

City Property For Lease
Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency (LORA) Meeting
November 18, 2014  

Agenda Item    4.2.1.  Approval of 41 B Avenue Lease 

                         Staff Report  

The lease on the LORA agenda was a retail space at 41 B Ave., one of the buildings purchased by the Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency for the North Anchor Block development.  The last renter there was Upper Crust Bakery.  After the city purchased the property, the bakery went out of business.  Upper Crust had employed 16 people, 6 full time, and at the time they left (the day before Thanksgiving two years ago) the bakery was paying $4,000 per month for rent.   
 The start date for new (original) lease for 41 B Ave. was approved at the LORA meeting  on May 20, 2014.  The lease renewal was approved at the November 18, 2014 LORA meeting.  
  At the May 20, 2014 LORA meeting, the board also leased the former barber shop space  (1,081 SF) at 41 B Ave. to Cinematouch, owned by Lake Oswego resident David Working, DBA Connectechs.  The barber shop paid $1,952 per month for rent.  The Cinematouch lease was the only one on the agenda for the May LORA meeting, but the staff also presented a last minute request for the rental of 41 B Ave. by Wishbone Home and Design.  There was no paperwork available at the meeting, but the board approved the deal with the same terms as Cinematouch.

The rent on both spaces is $0.46/SF per month, or $5.52/SF annualized, for a monthly rent of  $460 for 1,000 SF.  For comparison, in its report to the LORA board on July 22, 2013, staff wrote: 

Julie’s Travel Desk, has exercised its two-year lease option at the current lease rate of $17/SF, full service. The Agency is obligated to honor the two-year lease option, with a determination to be made on the current market rate. The 2011 appraisal of the 525  building identified full service rents for comparable properties in the $16-20 range. Rents for the 525 Building range from $13 – 25.

The new rents are obviously a good deal.  Both spaces had been vacant since the city purchased the property in 2012.  Did the city advertise the spaces for rent?  Even in poor 
condition and without a guaranteed long term lease, a discounted market rent should be 
much higher than $5.52/SF.  
How much could the city get for these spaces if they were marketed as short-term rentals in  a prime location in downtown LO?  We don't know because no one tested the market.  

The Staff Report explains that "reasonable lease rates" support "start-up businesses."   To the best of my knowledge there Is no policy that this was how the city wanted to use public property nor was there publicity that the rental space was available to new businesses.  In fact, Mayor Studebaker once suggested that the city's unoccupied buildings could be used as public meeting space - certainly worth the $5,520 in annual rent the city is collecting now.  

41 B Ave. is rented by Wishbone Home and Design, owned by Julie Aronson, Kim Nilles and Katie O'Neill. (See article below.)  Katie O'Neill is the daughter of Councilman Skip O'Neill. At the time of the original lease, one of the owners might have been Lynda O'Neill, (wife of Councilor O''Neill) as she is listed as such on the business registration filed with the state.  

There was no mention of any familial connection between Skip O'Neill and the lesee in the Staff Reports or by Councilor O'Neill himself in open session, and he did not recuse himself from voting on the lease agreement and renewal.  No matter the price, no matter the circumstances of the deal, I believe it would have been the right thing to do for O'Neill to state his personal interest in the matter and step aside.    

It should be the city's obligation to maximize the return on taxpayer investments and not make up programs to assist certain businesses on the fly.   The best possible way for the city to make real estate deals is to work with professional real estate agents - that no one in city hall knows - so there can be no question of bias. The city council should also have in 
place policies about how city assets should be handled.  

    arm's    length adj. the description of an agreement made by two
 parties-freely and independently of each other, and without some special relationship,such as being a relative, having another deal on the side or one party havingcomplete control of the other. It becomes important to determine if anagreement was freely entered into to show that the price, requirements, andother conditions were 
fair and real. Example: if a man sells property to his sonthe value set may not be the true value since it may not have been an "arm'slength" transaction. 

Three women 'eat, sleep and breathe design'
Lake Oswego Review, October 2, 2014  By Barb Randal

If you want give your home a total new look or just freshen it by incorporating a few new items, Wishbone Home and Design might be just the place to start. Opened this summer at 41 B Avenue in Lake Oswego, it takes just one step inside the shop to get the inspiration flowing.

Owned by Julie Aronson, Kim Nilles and Katie O’Neill, the interior design shop offers unique furniture, tabletop items, rugs, lamps, mirrors and many more items.

“I was tired of borrowing my dad’s truck (to haul large items),” O’Neill said. They started looking for showroom space and happened upon the former Upper Crust Bakery location.

“It just came together,” Aronson said. “The shop just fell into our laps.” 

See also:  Facebook - Wishbone Home and Design

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Preserve the best of our past

Can our history be preserved? 
What is "Progress" if we lose our past?

Sometimes this city seems more intent on preserving trees, a renewable resource that will eventually die, over a piece of irreplaceable artwork. I would like to add my voice to others to save a piece or our collective history and save a piece of important artwork at the same time.  This would be a great addition to a public building using the 1% for art budget required to be spent.

    Photo courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

The Arvid Orbeck mural, lying in wait for rediscovery and preservation behind an exterior wall of the downtown Safeway.  Note the Free-form, artistc shape of Oswego Lake.

Photo courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

The downtown Safeway, with its ubiquitous design seen around the country in the 60s, is a mid-century icon in itself,   Stripped of its signage, cars in front and newspaper and plant displays, one
can see the graceful gull-wing shape of the roof that displays the era's interest in modern art and space exploration.  Here is the building during construction in 1965 - the mural is being installed
    on right side under the eaves.

As part of the East End Redevelopment Plan, the building will probably be destroyed someday. Before this happens is the time to plan for the extraction, preservation and installation of the mural in a new place.  It is the responsibility of the entire community to see these pieces of art are saved or risk losing another piece of our identity.

Read these Citizen Views from the LO Review that give a better description of the artist and his artwork than I could do.
                                                                                                                                                           Photo courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Let the rock mural at Safeway be seen again
Lake Oswego Review, February 28, 2013 By Evie Proctor

Perhaps Safeway can find a way to bring the mural back
Lake Oswego Review, March 21, 2013  By Shirley Graves Orbec

Shirley Graves Orbeck, Dunthorpe, is a former Lake Oswego resident. She assisted her late husband, Arvid Orbeck, in creating the decorative mural on the downtown Lake Oswego Safeway store that was covered up in a remodel in 2003.

While some things need to change over time, we have learned from our past, that our cultural identity is written in out past - in our history.  We pay a huge price if we forget who we are and what makes us unique.  Those qualities are in jeopardy.

Here is a challenge to each citizen of Lake Oswego, AND to the developers and businesses that hope to prosper in our unique community:  Go out and find the gems and curiosities that make this town what it is.  Let the Historical Society (or library for photos) know about your finds and let them decide if these things they or someone else can help save.  Don't wait to let someone else do this for you.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Portland neighborhoods want input

Goal 1: Citizen Involvement

"We have to pass the Comp Plan before you can find out what's 
in it."   (Attribution to Nancy Pelosi with a change from Affordable Care Act to Comp Plan.)

Does anyone really think this is what the state wanted for Goal 1: Citizen Involvement?  Citizens are to be involved in every aspect of the Comp Plan.  Do the Central Planners know this?

Southwest neighbors want Comp Plan 
approval delayed
Portland Tribune, November 16, 2014  By Jim Redden

Southwest Portland residents are  
continuing to push for a delay in the scheduled votes on the update of the Comprehensive Plan that will guide development in Portland for the next 20 years.

The Planning and Sustainability Commission has held four hearings on the draft update, and will hold the first of several work sessions where public testimony will not be allowed on Tuesday, Nov. 18.

Representatives of the Multnomah Neighborhood Association and others have repeatedly testified before the commission that the current schedule does not allow city residents to fully understand the update before it is adopted. They are especially concerned that the details about new Mixed Use Zone where most development will occur will not be finalized until after the update goes to the City Council for approval next year.

Despite the specific names, the details of the new zones are still being written by a group called the Mixed Use Zone Advisory Committee. It is not scheduled to release its concept plan until January, two months after the last public hearing on the draft update. 

When he testified at the last commission hearing on the plan on Sept. 4, James Pederson, chairman of the Multnomah Neighborhood Association Land Use Committee, said, “We just want people to be able to see the whole plan before they testify on it.”

Photo Credit:  Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. Artist's rendering of how Barbur Blvd,.could look if the Comp Plan is approved.   

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What did your vote cost?

2014 City Council Election Accounting

In the aftermath of the General Election on November 4, the final tally of the candidates' income and expenses must be done.  Below are the total CONTRIBUTIONS for each council candidate including both cash and in-kind contributions.  Following that are the number of votes for each candidate, and the dollar amount per vote for each.  If anyone sees an error in the numbers, please let me know.

What did your candidate(s) spend on you?   

Amount Collected, High to Low
Joe Buck                    $ 22,565
Matt Keenen              $ 14,164
Jackie Manz               $   5,814
Jeff Gudman              $   4,154
Ed Brockman             $   3,503

Top Vote-Getters, High to Low
(74.33% of Lake Oswego registered voters participated in the election)
Joe Buck                   9,409
Jeff Gudman             8,578
Jackie Manz              8,329
Matt Keenen             5,694
Ed Brockman           3,151

Amount Per Vote, High to Low
Matt Keenen             $ 2.49
Joe Buck                   $ 2.40
Ed Brockman            $ 1.11
Jackie Manz              $ 0.70
Jeff Gudman             $ 0.48

Low vote-getters, Matt Keenen and Ed Brockman have higher amounts per vote than if they had received more votes.
Jeff Gudman was an incumbent and needed less publicity (money) to let voters know who he is.

FOE:  Friends Of Elaine
Three candidates, Joe Buck, Jeff Gudman and Jackie Manz received in-kind contributions from political strategist Elaine Franklin. Franklin's contribution was for printing flyers for the "3 Js," Joe, Jeff and Jackie.  Each campaign was credited with $174.66.

Why is this significant?  Elaine Franklin is known to be a very expensive and influential campaign expert.  None of the candidates paid for Franklin's services, and in at least one case, the help was unsolicited.  This isn't Franklin's first dive into LO politics as she has assisted current elected officials with their elections.  Add to her campaign assistance, Franklin was hired by Patrick Kessi to promote the Wizer development.  Since Elaine Franklin lives in Dunthorpe in Multnomah County, it is curious that she would spend her valuable time on LO politics, and with people who didn't even ask for her help.  Why?  What is Elaine's interest in Lake Oswego politics?   Who are Elaine's friends?

Portlanders Unhappy

Portland was once the darling of the planning world.  Early adoption of ight rail and Smart Growth policies made Portland the go-to model of what other cities aspired to.  The Portland model has been in place long enough to start showing the flaws in urban design theories that still dominate the industry.  

Today, the lower quality of life created by the Smart Growth philosophy is being rejected by an increasing number of Portlanders.  Given the number of communities that have enacted laws requiring public votes before light rail, urban renewal and other high-density practices are enacted, the metro region is taking note of what is happening in Portland.   

Portlanders Unhappy with Portland

Debates over Portland-area rail transit and land-use issues typically pit city residents against the suburbs, with urbanites favoring more transit and land-use restrictions and suburbanites opposing them. But a recent poll by Portland’s city auditor reveals that even city of Portland residents are becoming increasingly disillusioned about Portland’s policies.

The complete survey is here. The same survey has been made for each of the last five years, and support for Portland’s land-use and transportation policies in particular has steadily eroded during that time.

Read the entire article by Randall O'Toole, Fellow at the Cato Institute at The Antiplanner.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Transit vs Driving

Why Do Transit Commuters Take Longer to Get to Work Than Drivers? 

Nationwide, the average worker spends 24.7 minutes, each way, traveling to and from work.  People who drive alone spend 24.4 minutes; people who carpool spend 28.0 minutes; people who walk take 11.9 minutes; and people who take transit take 48.7 minutes.

In other words,mpeople who take transit spend almost exactly twice as much time en route as people who drive alone.  Why?  The simple answer is that transit is slower.  But this flies in the face of the Ida that people have a travel-time budget that limits the total amount of time they are willing to spend traveling each day (or week).  

Is the travel-time budget idea wrong?

Read this provocative article by Randall O'Toole at The Antiplanner