Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Quick Fixes will turn to long-term changes.

Planners OK 'quick fixes' to Sensitive Lands

Lake Oswego Review, November 13, 2013   By Saundra Sorenson

Excerpts: USC comments in red.
The SL program is capricious and non-scientific, written by non-scientists (planners) who play with words like "invasive," "riperian" "native" and others that are applied in simplistic and political way, but are not based on solid science.   In a nutshell, the program is idiotic and unfair. 

Some of the changes will be overridden by more sweeping reforms to the program next year, [Scot] Siegel said, "but really, the reason for bringing the changes now and earlier than the rest of the package is to provide immediate relief for private-property owners."

Two code fixes will relax landscaping regulations in private backyards.  Currently, in areas classified as either Respurce Comservation or Reaource Protection districts, plants used in landscaping must "provide food or cover for wildlife." The code amendment asks instead that plants be "swell-suited to local soils and growing conditions" -- which means some non-native plants could be used. 
Old way: What plants for what wildlife?  New way: Can grow just about anything.  My Skeptic self says, expect this one to be changed, but I hope not.

[Gerry] Haase has found the burden unduly on him to prove that there are no wetlands on his property. To disprove the clerical error, Haase must have a wetlands expert inspect his property first.

"The city said they would pay for it," Hasse said. "But the situation is, I don't believe that this is the way it should be handled." 
Of course not.  In the system we have now, one is guilty without proof a crime has been committed, then the culprit/victim must prove to bureaucrats they are innocent (usually at their own expense, and sometimes with an attorney.)  This process gives government regulators the maximum control over private land.  This does not sound like we are living in America anymore.  

Another code, amendment will hit close to for Planning Commission member Bill Ward, who after purchasing a property on Lily Bay Court found that it had a tree grove overlay on it. 
Tree groves were originally found by examining aerial maps and drawing lines around groups of trees.  They had little access to property on the ground to confirmx that the areas were "sensitive" habitat for any species, let alone threatened or endangered one. 

In what he described as "an insult-to-injury situation," Ward 
estimates he spent more than $3,000 having the property surveyed and delineated.  In the end, he had much less usable property than he originally thought --- and the developable parcel was a "crazy, cloud-shaped area."
The real insult to Ward and everyone else is that the SL program seeks to provide habitat for "wildlife," but never specifies what wildlife the planners refer to.  The second, bureaucratic insult is the bother and expense OWNERS have to go through to have THE CITY'S sensitive lands map defined on the ground to confirm THEIR fuzzy goals. 

"Owners (often) find to their dismay that the Sensitive Lands issue has taken over a portion of what they thought to be their land," Ward explained, "and that they can no longer use a portion of their land.  It's just basically off-limits."
"what they thought to be their land" says it all. 

Kent Myers agrees. Taking the the required setbacks into account, the stream designation of a ditch has claimed nearly one acre on his seven-acre property.

Kent Meyers has been paying taxes on the land for 49 years and (jokingly) wants to know where to go for a refund.   It's not a joke.  The value of Meyers' property, Ward's property, and that of others who have Sensitive Lands has dropped dramatically because of it.  

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