Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Who wants State Street?

ODOT's safety problems at Highway 43 and McVey Avenue

Is Hwy. 43 and McVey Ave the most dangerous intersection in the city?  No.  According the city's Transportation System Plan, the most dangerous is the intersection of Boones Ferry Rd. and Kerr Parkway.   See chart at bottom of post - from the new LO TSP.

What would it take to fix the problem?  According to the article, other than making a (costly) left turn lane on 43, the next-best alternative is a (simple) 4-way stop using a flashing red traffic signal.  

If the city takes over control of State St., how could it do a better job than the state to solve the problem?  It can't.  Any agency can contract for road improvements - it just takes money to do them.  The last time I looked, the city was falling behind on its own roadway maintenance and improvement projects.  The city has about 20 (?) bridges that are aging and need attention, plus old sewer and water lines, and more.  Even if the state funded initial improvements (how much does a flashing red light and new striping cost?), the city would have ongoing responsibility for the upkeep and operations of the road forever.  The Metro guy forgot to say that.  By not taking on responsibility for State St., the city could better take care of other problem interepsections and road maintenance. 

There is a simple solution for the State St. and McVey Ave. intersection here.  Who is responsible?   Hmm.  A signal, and the state.  What do you think is the best course for the taxpayers of Lake Oswego?  

There are other critical issues involving State St. the article did not address.  Metro is pushing for local jurisdictions to take control of state-owned corridors that run through towns in order to increase the density of development abutting the roadways.  If cities did not have to comply with state standards for State Street functionality (congestion), the streets could become - intentionally - much more congested with intensified mixed-use development in downtown and Foothills.

In 2012 the city applied for a MMA (Multimodal Mixed Use Area).  MMAs give Oregon cities the "flexibility" to abandon state road standards in favor of increased density.  (See earlier blog post on what an MMA is.)   In 2013, the new City Council rejected the MMA in favor of more efficient traffic flow, and directed staff to withdraw it.  For now, LO must follow state highway operational standards.

Is city control of Hwy. 43 for safely reasons a red herring for development, a convenient way for the state to shift cost burdens to the city, or both?  





A dangerous illusion
As accidents continue to pile up on Highway 43 at McVey Avenue, officials focus on who owns the road and who's actually responsible for fixing it

Lake Oswego Review, February 26, 2015 By

Excerpts:
“Northbound drivers making a left turn onto McVey pull into the path of the oncoming cars,” Howard says. “I do not understand why the city has not made changes to the traffic lights at this dangerous intersection."

“The notion is that there are roads that belong to the state, but the state doesn’t care about them, and they ought to be in the ownership of the local government,” says Andy Cotugno, a senior policy advisor with Metro. “But the local government doesn’t have initiative to take them because (ODOT) has deferred improvement for so many years. There are lots of places across the state where there’s this stalemate.

“There’s a barrier to making the transfer” Cotugno explains, “because why would you want to take on additional financial responsibility when you can’t afford what you’ve already got?”


City officials agree. As Highway 43 heads south from the beleaguered McVey Avenue intersection, it crosses a bridge over Oswego Creek — an impressive feat of 1920s engineering, to be sure, but also a stretch of road sure to weigh heavily on the city’s budget should Lake Oswego ever decide to take full responsibility for this particular orphan highway.

From the Lake Oswego TSP - Technical Analysis Appendices


Thursday, February 26, 2015

An island by design

This letter writer is correct in her summary of what effects the UGB has on 

housing.  Portland, and other growing metropolitan areas, are becoming islands 

of their own making - unaffordable and off limits to all but the wealthy.  

Government is doing as much to create social and economic inequality with 

the regulatory impacts on housing as disparity in job-related incomes do.  

The government solution is always to create another more drain on middle 

class incomes with subsidized housing.  No one ever gets rid of a bad government 

program (too many jobs at stake, or limited thinking).  


Wikipedia:  Rent Control

"Most economists believe that a ceiling on rents reduces the quality and quantity of housing available.[37][38] This view is based on analysis of empirical evidence as well as the understanding generated by theoretical models.[39] Economists from differing sides of the political spectrum, such as Paul Krugman[40] and Thomas Sowell,[41] have criticized rent regulation as poor economics which, despite its good intentions, leads to the creation of less housing, raises prices, and increases urban blight.



Readers' Letters: Growth boundary makes Portland quite unaffordable

Portland Tribune, February 24, 2015  By Susan Blevins, Downtown Portland

I have been attending Portland city planning meetings since 1994. When the new zoning map changed my single-family home property to be zoned for high density, I decided I needed to keep a close eye on what was going on with the Portland Plan.

The mayor and the city planners roll their eyes when they see me coming. The following has been my argument for years. I always get applause from the other citizens when I speak.

Manhattan is an island. San Francisco is a peninsula. Only the rich and the subsidized poor can afford to live and work (or not work) in these space-bound cities. Homeownership is only for the wealthy. Businesses, property owners and the wealthy are heavily taxed to subsidize the poor and the social programs to promote so-called “equity.” The middle class is forced out of town or, at best, live in rent-controlled apartments.

With our urban growth boundary, we are effectively making our area an island. Soon, only the rich and the subsidized poor will find our area “affordable.”

All of the grandiose goals of the Portland Plan will require the densities and the high taxation of New York and San Francisco in order to be “sustainable.” Twenty-minute neighborhoods? No decent, affordable grocery/service establishment (without parking available) can be profitable enough to survive without subsidies or great density in the surrounding neighborhood.

As taxation and the cost of living in the area increases, more and more people and government-selected (Portland Development Commission) businesses will require some sort of subsidy in order to remain here. Subsidized living — jobs, housing, the arts, etc. — is not “affordable” living.

Consider what limiting space, increasing density, and high taxation to subsidize the poor and government programs do to a city. Businesses fail or move elsewhere. The middle class disappears by moving elsewhere or often becoming part of the poor.

With no middle class, the gap between rich and poor becomes more evident and divisive. Private property and farmlands become more precious, controlled and unaffordable. Businesses and the wealthy eventually search for more affordable places to do business and to live. Just look at how many of the newcomers to Portland are those fleeing unaffordable New York and San Francisco.

Susan Blevins
Downtown Portland

What are we doing here?

Why does Lake Oswego have Urban Renewal?

URBAN RENEWAL IN OREGON
oregonlaws.org
ORS 457.010
DEFINITIONS

Blighted areas means that, by means of deterioration, faulty planning, inadequate or improper facilities, deleterious land use or the existence of unsafe structures, or any combination of these factors, are detrimental to the safety, health or welfare of the community.

ORS 457.085
Urban renewal plan requirements

(1)    An urban renewal agency shall provide for public involvement in all stages of the development of an urban renewal plan.

ORS 457.020
Declaration of necessity and purpose

See oregonlaws.org for complete text of all sections of ORS Chapter 457.

At the Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency (LORA) meeting on Tuesday night (February 24, 2015), the Agency Board (made up of City Council members) deliberated on which projects for the East End Redevelopment District (downtown) should be undertaken in 2015.

Only one councilor questioned whether a new police and emergency communications departments facilty should be an urban renewal project since it didn't fit the purpose of urban renewal which was to jumpstart economic activity and add to the city's tax base.  (Lake Oswego does not have any true blight, only perceived underperforming properties.). Public buildings do neither.

It is a real estate rule and economic truism that you don't locate public (non-tax paying) buildings on expensive (prime downtown) land.  Public (financial) interests are best served by putting public buildings on lesser value land.

In prior years the LORA Director's office and the Council have agreed that in order to get this facility built, the money might best come from the urban renewal pot.  The benefits are that there is plenty of room left in the debt limit of the district, and the city does not need to go to the citizens for a vote on new taxes.  An urban renewal district allows the city to borrow money (through TIF bonds) on its own and claim that the subsequent rise in the tax base will cover the cost of the bonds.  The latter is not the case with public buildings - the entire district will subsidize the loan, thereby extending the length of the urban renewal district which is now 29 years old with years yet to go to pay for current and new indebtedness (Wizer block for one - cash subsidies and 2nd street regrading paid for by the district).

What has happened, as it has in most cities, is that urban renewal has become the de facto financing plan for a variety of public works and capital improvement projects in addition to subsidizing private business interests (crony capitalism).   In fact, Metro encourges urban renewal as a development tool to transform commercial areas into more "compact" (dense) mixed-use areas (dense) areas (usually it's less parking and more intense, urban characteristics near transit).  They know that their goals can be accomplished more easily and quickly if not impeded by public votes on general obligation bonds like the (good) old days when citizens got to choose.

This blog post does not get into the grit or detail of the Tuesday meeting, which is important.  For that I will have to re-watch the entire meeting, and I suggest everyone else do the same, as well as read the reports on the meeting website (see the interactive agenda).

One last thought - while this topic is fresh in your (my) mind, take a moment to study the East End Redevelopment Plan (2004).  The plan was totally revised with new projects in 2004 since most of the original projects has been completed.  It has been amended several times since then.  Look at how many projects were done prior to the 2004 revision, and how much of downtown has been, and is projected to be, part of the total make-over of downtown Lake Oswego under a government plan, using your money to do it.  Understand too, that any need to "jumpstart" the district has long since past.

If the downtown hasn't improved in 30 years will all the attention and money spent, then there is something else going on that perhaps government cannot fix - or more probably, government is creating the problems.  Consider, that by subsidizing so much of the development of downtown, and having designated so much more property for future projects, the subsidies so far have only slowed or discouraged development because, 1) non-redeveloped property values have gone up artifically, and 2) no development will take place without government subsidies now that it is known the city's ambitions go well beyond mere facade improvements.  I could be too that downtown Lake Oswego has a finite ability to grow its economic base given its geographic limitations.

As the EERP continues to evolve with amendments, additions and changes, how is the public (beyond the standard stakeholder group of Chamber of Commerce members) being involved?








Monday, February 23, 2015

Compatibility built into codes

Will "compatibility" be the defining factor in making infill decisions in Lake Oswego?  Or will "discretionary" decision-making lead to unhappy neighborhoods?

Be very careful whenever someone says "balanced approach".  That means bad things can still happen when you aren't looking.

The big problem everywhere is building either too big, or in the case of split lots, too small homes in established neighborhoods.  The key word here is "established".  As vacant parcels of land large enough for new planned developments disappear, builders are consuming lots in established neighborhoods by tearing down existing homes.  New dwellings should fit in with the neighborhood in scale and style.  Be a good neighbor.  Not be the loud, crazy one at the party that disturbs everyone else.  If the neighborhood doesn't suit the taste of the eventual buyer, perhaps a different neighborhood would be better suited for a new home.

Lake Oswego is built out - except for a few parcels, there is no land left for subdivisions in our city.  The UGB has seen to it that land inside the boundary will be ever more expensive than ever, so more tear downs are to be expected.  The city does not need to densify the neighborhoods, but builders will  divide larger lots.

How do we get from incompatible to compatible new homes? 

Codes.  

  • There should be no misunderstanding about what makes your neighborhood tick, and what defines its character.  (See last paragraph here.) Do not leave definition vague, but make it objective - height, roof pitch, house style, setbacks, etc.  
  • Make sure this gets into the city's Community Development Codes.  There is no other way.  No codes, no compatibility.  
  • Talk to the Planning Commission (also the Commission for Citizen Involvement) for how to start this process.  
  • Advocate for and protest against things you see going on that are good and bad for your neighborhood.
  • Support other neighborhoods in their quest for the integrity of their neighborhoods.   

Under Amanda Fritz, Portland development bureau told to say 'no' more often

The Oregonian/Oregonlive, February 17, 2015  By Eliot Njus

Portland regulators have been told they need to tell developers "no" more often.
City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who oversees the Bureau of Development Services, told the department's staff in a memo this month that it needs to "raise the bar" in certain land-use reviews. In particular, she said, staff members should put more emphasis on considerations like neighborhood compatibility, the preservation of trees and availability of on-street parking.

All are issues that have attracted residents to testify at City Hall by the dozens in the past several years as a post-recession building boom has ruffled some feathers in long-established neighborhoods.

"I don't support the philosophy of cramming in density at all costs," Fritz wrote in the memo, obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive. "We need a more balanced approach."

The directive won't impact development that's allowed outright under city code. Rather, it's a change in how planners make "discretionary" land-use decisions, in which some criteria is subjective.

In October, the Portland City Council denied a lot division sought by infill developer Vic Remmers, overruling staff at the Bureau of Development Services and a city hearings officer. It agreed with the Woodstock Neighborhood Association that the lot arrangement, which would create two skinny lots around 30 feet wide, would be incompatible with the existing neighborhood.

The rebuke of the bureau's original findings on the case sent a message it needed to figure out how to account for the character of the existing neighborhood.

The Woodstock case points to the difficulty of determining what's "compatible." A hearings officer who reviewed the case before the City Council described compatibility as "particularly vexing from a legal standpoint because they are so subjective as to be nearly meaningless as a standard."

Where do we put them all?

What fits the character of the area?  

Here is a map of local development either under development or proposed.  This is from an article
 in The Oregonian/Oregonlive, February 11, 2015 by Elliot Njus titled,   It looks like LO is on the map, but that's not a great place to be right now.  

"South Waterfront, Pearl District apartments,; Grove Hotel; Grand Avenue mystery solved: development roundup"

We're tracking proposed and in-the-works development across the metro area. Check back every week for the latest. If a project isn't included in the text of the post, click around on the map to see if we're tracking it.


The map online is interactive and will show more developments as you zoom out.  


Sunday, February 22, 2015

LUBA appeal on Wizer project

The Land Use Board of Appeals has scheduled a date to hear Lake Oswego parties' appeal of the City Council's approval of the Wizer project building permit.  The hearing will be in Eugene on March 18.  I assume there will be plenty of people from Lake Oswego there to hear the arguments.  This will most likely be the final decision on the subject of whether or not the development proposal meets Lake Oswego's definition of "village character."  It is not a slam dunk for either side.  

LUBA Schedule



Case Number:  2014-092

LO 138, LLC, et al v. City of Lake Oswego

University of Oregon - Knight Law Center, Room 110, 1515 Agate St., Eugene, OR

Wednesday, March 18, 2015 - 11:00 AM

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Saving the soul of a city


Activists want bigger, faster effort by city to save neighborhoods
Portland Tribune, February 17, 2014  By Jim Redden

Council passes demolition reforms, promises more action
Portland Tribune, February 18, 2015  By Jim Redden

"We all know the Joni Mitchell song that says you don't know what you've got until it's gone, and we have neighborhoods we don't want to lose," said Mayor Charlie Hales, who is working with the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability on projects to consider such issues in next year's budget.
*
Neighborhoods are under assault with tear-downs and lot divisions that destroy the very things that drew builders and buyers to a particular neighborhood in the first place.  Ruin a neighborhood and move on.  To where?  Can Portland, the queen of infill density, find a way to keep its neighborhoods intact?  Can Lake Oswego?  Will it buck developers' pressures to transform the city into an unaffordable, newer and unidentifiable place?

As you have seen documented in this blog, the tear-down and re-build with out-of-scale and out-of-character homes and apartments is angering people all over the world.  Government-manufactured scarcity of buildable land is the main cause for this malady.  Another causality of this destruction of the fabric of our towns and our "sense of place" is the loss of older homes that may or not be of historical or architectural significance, but together create a place that has its roots set firmly in time and our collective memory.  There is also the loss of true affordable housing, not the kind the government builds at exorbitant (public) cost to make up for what they allow to be destroyed.

I sat in on a "pre-app" meeting about 2 weeks ago where a builder is planning to divide yet another lot into two to create a flag lot. The plan is to tear down the original home and build two on the same lot.  When the topic of the Comprehensive Plan's goal to preserve neighborhood character came up, both the builder and the city planner remarked that people keep bringing up the comp plan in meetings, but it doesn't mean anything - it was only the codes that mattered.  The joke was on me. Do flag lots and the orientation of homes affect the character of a neighborhood?  Of course, but the  character issue was not up for discussion.  The codes can be ambiguous and illogical, so one has to  depend on the good will and good taste of the builder.

This demonstrates that regardless of whether or not the public has extensive involvement in creating a comp plan (or other land use plan), it really is just a volume of futility that can be ignored at will.  Of course, new codes or code changes must comply with the comp plan, but that gets into the slippery slope of code interpretation.  The comp plan and development codes mean whatever someone says they mean, but the one with the power of the state to approve or deny construction permits gets the final say.  In my opinion, when citizens and builders clash, the builder's interests are supported most of the time.

Development codes are still under review to see which ones are compatible with the comp plan, but unless citizens get out ahead of the game and insist that their code preferences are in place and interpretations upheld, well, good luck about what we will have to live with.  Once codes are approved, for all intents and purposes, they ARE set in stone.

In Lake Oswego we have all of the problems you can find in Canada, Australia, Beverly Hills, Marinwood, Portland, and all over the U.S.  What makes our towns and cities livable is being torn apart because of planning theories that we never got to vote on and may not work.  Smart Growth planning has been disappointing to disastrous, and its success has yet to be defined.  If it's the codes that set the stage for development, then YOU must be involved in their creation AND subsequent revisions. Plans and codes approved today, can and do get changed tomorrow. Vigilance is the price of saving your city.

  SAVE OUR NEIGHBORHOODS!  
 KEEP LAKE OSWEGO LIVABLE!  

Human scale out - gigantism in

Politicians promise, but only builders deliver.  If the city (any city) only did some "code busting" testing on its own codes, it might find out where the 10,000 SF loopholes are.  To test a code, get several (or a lot of) smart people (residents - not developers with a conflict of interest), hand them the development codes, and see what awful thing they can design and still keep it legal. 

In the end, every project will still depend upon code interpretation.  If the planners like it, even if the project looks just like one they denied 2 years ago, they can approve it with new reasoning applied.  The trick is to get community values, codes that can't be busted, and planners all working together.  This ugly task is up to the City Council to accomplish.  Guys?     

Boy this story is getting old.  How many people in how many cities and how many countries are feeling and saying the same things?

How do we keep our cities and neighborhoods "human scale"?

Return of 'mansionization' has some L.A. homeowners grumbling
LA Times, May 4, 2014  By Emily Alpert Reyes


Excerpts:
Six years ago, Los Angeles politicians imposed new limits on the size of new and renovated houses, promising to rein in what they called "homes on steroids" dwarfing blocks of smaller buildings.
But as the housing market rebounds and construction picks up, many homeowners complain that "mansionization" has revved upreigniting long-standing policy battles and sometimes bitter fence fights over the face and feel of L.A.'s neighborhoods.
Builders are snapping up smaller, older homes, razing them and replacing them with bigger dwellings. Increasingly, sleek, square structures are popping up along streets known for quaint bungalows.In Hollywood, for example, members of a neighborhood group objected to a spec home exceeding 3,000 square feet, being built on a Stanley Avenue block lined with older, smaller homes — most of them under 2,000 square feet. Aggravated by the "out of place, enormous" residence, Amy Aquino of the Sunset Square Neighborhood Assn. said the group hired a land-use consultant to examine how it was allowed.
"Everything they were doing, hideous as it is, is all completely legal," Aquino said.
The builder behind the home, Amnon Edri, said that as long as his project meets requirements, it shouldn't be a problem.
"If the city code allows it, and you want a bigger house, you have the right to a bigger house," he said. "This is America. It's a free country."
Neighbors pushing for stricter rules fear that outsized, out-of-character buildings will drag down their home values. Edri and others maintain that bigger homes boost prices for their neighbors.
For decades there was "kind of a consensus about what a Southern California house should look like" — low, rambling and open to the landscape, cultural historian D.J. Waldie said. That philosophy, along with requirements imposed by builders, gave rise to uniform neighborhoods lined with homes of similar sizes and styles, Waldie said.
But in a growing city with scant undeveloped land and changing tastes, some Angelenos see things differently. They look at older neighborhoods and think, "'this is where the good life is lived,'" Waldie said. "'But I don't want to live in a 1,300-square-foot house.'"  Doesn't this mean they should go elsewhere to build their big house?  Isn't the "good life" they are covetous of,  due to the smaller, intimate (human-scale), relaxed landscape that was created in generations past?  When the landscape changes, the "good life" will go with it.  
The Baseline Mansionization Ordinance was approved in 2008 as the city was slipping into the housing slump. It was meant to stop homes from expanding, as Councilman Tom LaBonge put it, "like the Pillsbury Doughboy."
Under the new rules, a 5,000-square-foot lot in a typical residential zone generally could not have a home of more than 2,500 square feet of "residential floor area," including extra buildings — or a total of 50% of the lot size. Before the change, a home of up to 7,000 square feet, not including garages, could be built on the same size lot, according to the planning department. But the law includes special exceptions. Builders can get a bonus to build 20% or 30% larger than ordinarily allowed if they design their homes to be environmentally friendly, or if they adhere to certain scaling requirements of home facades and upper floors. The home Edri is building on Stanley Avenue, for example, was allowed hundreds of feet of additional floor area because part of the facade was recessed, according to its building permit.
Critics point out that some construction that can bulk up the appearance of residences isn't counted against the size limits. Up to 400 square feet of "covered parking area" can be excluded from city calculations, for example.

What is government?

Governments at all levels are businesses and should be judged on the delivery of core services.  The rest is entertainment.  What can government do, who can do it better, and what should government be doing at all?  

Notable and Quotable: David Mamet

Government is only a business

From "The Sectet Knowledge" (2011), by David Mamet:

Gov­ern­ment is only a busi­ness. Past the roads, de­fense, and sew­ers, it sells ex­cite­ment and self-sat­is­faction to the masses, and charges them an en­ter­tain­ment tax, ex­acted in wealth and mis­ery. It can­not make cars, or de­velop med­i­cines. How can it “abol­ish poverty” (at home or abroad), or Bring About an End to Greed or Ex­ploita­tion? It can only sell the illusion, and put it­self in a po­si­tion where it is free from judgment of its ef­forts. It does this, first of all, by stat­ing in­choate goals, “change, hope, fair­ness, peace,” and then in­dict­ing those who ques­tion them as trai­tors or ogres; fi­nally, it ex­plains its lack of suc­cess by reference to per­sis­tent if mag­i­cal forces put in play by its pre­de­ces­sors and yet unerad­i­cated because of in­suf­ficient fund­ing. 

Wall Street Journal, February 19, 2015



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Big fish eat smaller fish

and even BIGGER FISH eat the big ones.  
Don't you just hate it when this happens in your neighborhood?

The site of the planned 85,000-square-foot estate of Prince Abdulaziz 
bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud. Cameron Davidson
In Los Angeles, a Nimby Battle Pits Millionaires vs. Billionaires

New York Times, December 5, 2014  By Peter Haldeman


Built for the most part on spec, bestowed with names as assuming as their dimensions, these behemoths are transforming once leafy and placid neighborhoods into dusty enclaves carved by retaining walls and overrun by dirt haulers and cement mixers. “Twenty-thousand-square-foot homes have become teardowns for people who want to build 70-, 80-, and 90,000-square-foot homes,” Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz said. So long, megamansion. Say hello to the gigamansion.

In a city traditionally as hostile to architectural preservation as it is hospitable to architectural innovation, the gigamansion trend is accelerating the decimation of residential gems. A midcentury modern home in Bel Air designed by Burton Schutt (best known as the architect of the Hotel Bel-Air) and furnished by the decorator Billy Haines for Earle Jorgensen, a member of President Ronald Reagan’s “kitchen cabinet,” and his wife, Marion, was recently razed by the action-movie director Michael Bay and replaced with a three-story 30,000-square-foot dwelling with two master bedrooms and a movie-prop museum.


In the Sunset Strip area, a geometric hacienda built by the Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta for the actor Ricardo Montalb├ín was “remodeled” into a hulking glass spec house. “We’re losing a vast amount of significant architecture and historical or contextual buildings in our neighborhoods,” said Linda Dishman, executive director of the Los Angeles Conservancy.


As the number of Los Angeles’s buildable lots dwindles and land values soar, houses that are out of scale with their surroundings are popping up everywhere. (According to a recent account in The Los Angeles Times, residents of McMansion-checkered North Beverly Grove have been registering their disapproval by spray-painting construction fences and festooning them with bags of dog feces.) City ordinances intended to keep building sizes proportional to lot dimensions are riddled with loopholes.


While global wealth is pouring into other American cities as well, Los Angeles is still a relative bargain, Mr. Hyland said, adding: “Here you can buy the best house for $3,000 a square foot. In Manhattan, you’re looking at $11,000 a square foot and you get a skybox.”


“We weren’t even aware of how much development had been approved over the counter,” said Mr. Koretz, who recently introduced measures to limit exemptions, develop more proactive inspections and require environmental review for homes over a certain size.

Fascinating carbon dioxide

Fascinating Gases

Click HERE to see and learn about beautiful, fascinating gases.  Pause on each gas image for common applications to appear.  Images are also available as a download from the Apple App Store.

Check out the VIDEO of the Making of Fascinating Gases from the tab on screen.

Project by: The Linde Group - a German gases and engineering company.

Making of
We have been searching for a way of making invisible gases visible - and have developed a fascinating, unique approach. With the help of software programmed especially for this project, which calculates breathtaking representations from seven separate material properties of each gas, the gases can be visualized.







Monday, February 16, 2015

Washington County voters bushwhacked by Commissioners

Another jaw-dropping, nose-thumbing, slap-in-the-face maneuver by politicians fearful of citizens mucking about in "their" domain.  What?!?  Taxpaying citizens wanting to voice their opinions through an initiative vote?  How dare they!

The Washington County Commissioners may get more than they bargained for.  Win or lose this battle, voters will remember who denied them the chance to decide if county money should be spent on HCT. In Clackamas County where commissioners secretly borrowed money to give to Metro days before a vote that may have stopped them, several of the commissioners were shown the door at the next election.

If an elected body fears their constituents might vote against something they are planning to do, then who are they representing - the citizens, themselves, or outside parties who will benefit from their vote?  If there is no conflict, then why the angst over having the people make the choice about what they want for their future?

The Oregonian/Oregonlive, February 16, 2015  By Dana Tims

Washington County payment for light-rail planning draws ire of Tigard petitioner



Washington County may be hurrying up planning efforts that include possible light rail options to head off a petition that could require voter approval for such projects. That's according to Tigard resident, whose proposed initiative currently is tied up in Washington County Circuit Court. (The Oregonian)

Washington County is hurrying ahead with a commitment to spend money on light rail planning, possibly to blunt the impact of an initiative petition that could limit such spending.

That charge is being leveled by Tigard resident Tim Esau, the chief petitioner for a measure that would require a countywide vote before any significant amounts of money could be spent planning, designing or building high-capacity rail or bus facilities in the county.

Esau made his comments after learning that the Washington County Board of Commissioners is scheduled Feb. 17 to approve an intergovernmental agreement with Metro committing the county to spend $900,000 over the next two years on planning that includes possible light rail or high-capacity bus options.

The item appears on the consent agenda for the board's regularly scheduled Feb. 17 meeting. Items on the consent agenda are considered routine and are adopted in one motion unless a commissioner asks beforehand to have a particular item considered separately.

Assuming the initiative faces no further legal obstacles, Esau could then start collecting the 15,270 valid signatures he needs to put the matter before voters. Ideally, he said, he'd like to make the November 2015 general election ballot.

"We saw it happening in Clackamas County so maybe that's the script they're operating from," he said, referring to commissioners in that county citing pre-existing contracts with Metro as binding and not subject to the subsequent successful petition approval. "I hope not, but it wouldn't surprise me if they are trying to outrace a ballot measure.

Kitzhaber's big green line

For some people, nothing is ever enough.  Some people believe their cause is more important than any law or regulation.  This opens the door to dishonesty, deceit and corruption. This is the big green line Governor Kitzhaber has crossed.

When corporations and politicians saw
an opportunity to capitalize on the environmental movement, they created an industry to advance their goals.  Without public disclosure or majority support, the eco-conscious movement was co-oped by a network of corporate welfare recipients and impassioned activists to support government spending on favored projects. It's called Greenwashing: Use a sympathetic cause or create an immediate danger as an excuse to further one's goals:

The Green movement has become big business.  A new career path has opened for millions of people, and most of it is run on public dollars. Big government at all levels, holding hands with big industries. . 

So we come to the Governor Kitzhaber debacle and his arrogance about the way he conducted the state's business to further his, and others' causes.  Ethics and honesty were replaced by Greenwashing.

The February 14-15, 2015 Wall Street Journal editorial ends with a good description of our collective dilemma in politics today - Greenwashing and politicians who do not know where to draw the line.  Read excerpt below:



Green Love is Blind

Liberal influence-peddling topples Oregon's Governor.

All of this has shocked the local political class, which likes to think of itself as pure as its best liberal intentions. But the Hayes-Kitzhaber operation exposes the underside of the big-money, insider politics that has come to dominate the environmental movement.  The green machine is a network of wealthy foundations and consultant groups that finance activists who promote and advise sympathetic politicians.  Putting or keeping people on the payroll who are close to influential politicians is their stock in trade.  

It isn't clear how much Mr. Kitzhaber knew about his fiancee's business dealings, but it is clear he didn't bother much with finding out. His resignation statement expresses incredulity that no one would question his ethics and blamed the media.  Good liberal motives absolve everything.  Oregon voters deserve better, and new Governor Kate Brown, the current Secretary of State, would do a public service by digging into this larger network of environmental profiteers.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Smart Growth: Choices or Profits

The disappearing American Dream:
It's not because Americans don't dream anymore.  
  • Who is driving the high-density transformation of cities?  
  • What is happening to single family homes in the inner city?  (Like Portland's bungalow/streetcar neighborhoods.)
  • Who is benefiting from Smart Growth? 
  • What is happening to established neighborhoods?
  • How do businesses at some transit areas succeed while at other areas they fail to take hold?
  • Do we need planners to promote theoretical growth models, or should the market decide what works best?
  • What can citizens do to re-establish control over the future of their towns?  
  • What is happening to Americans' choice Bout where and how they live?q
All good questions.  Watch this 6-minute video from Reason TV and then think about each question.

CA vs. The Suburbs: Planners, Smart Growth, and The Manhattan Delusion 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=50_m-OrxOUg


IN 
OUT 



Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Thirteen years of smart growth deception

I ran across these websites today and started reading articles, not thinking about when they were written.  The scary thing was that these sites were created thirteen years ago.  The writer knew then what we are figuring out now - that Metro has been on a steady march to transform our cities and change the way we live - without our consent - for a very long time.

The thirteen-year look-back tells a story of lies and half truths that is still going on.

Why does it matter what Metro was planning in the 1990s?  Because the philosophies about density and transportation have not changed; we are well on our way to achieving the Metro 2040 Plan for the Portland Region.  Past behavior is a good predictor of future behavior.  




Stop Metro: 
Turning Portland Into Los Angeles

The Metro 2040 plan calls for increasing the Portland area's population density by 75 percent in the next fifty years. Question: What U.S. urban area has the highest populatiokn density? Answer: Los Angeles.

The Metro 2040 plan calls for building minimal new freeways and other highways in the Portland area. Question: What urban area has the lowest number of miles of freeway per person in the U.S.? Answer: Los Angeles.


The Metro 2040 plan calls for building an expensive light-rail network. Question: What urban area is building the most expensive light-rail system in the U.S.? Answer: Los Angeles.


How can Los Angeles be Metro's goal for Portland? The answer is that Metro has fooled itself into thinking that the very things that make Los Angeles so congested and polluted will somehow make Portland more livable. 


Portlanders agree that the last thing they want is for Portland to become like Los Angeles. Question: What urban area does Metro say that it "desires to replicate"? Answer: LOS ANGELES.


How can Los Angeles be Metro's goal for Portland? The answer is that Metro has fooled itself into thinking that the very things that make Los Angeles so congested and polluted will somehow make Portland more livable. 


Despite Metro's claims that the 2040 plan will maintain Portland's livability, its true attitudes are expressed in a number of documents that have not received broad public review. In a review of 
statistics titled Metro Measured, Metro planners compare Portland with 50 other major urban areas.

The document notes that in "the LA region, we find high densities and low per capita road and freeway mileage." Metro goes on to say that "In public discussions we gather the general impression that Los Angeles represents a future to be avoided." Yet, says Metro, "with respect to density and road per capita mileage it displays an investment pattern we desire to replicate." (Emphasis added)
*
Take a few minutes to look at these two websites and see how far back the problems go, and how prescient the blogger was.  What is next for us?  What do we really want and what can we do?

www.stopmetro.com  Metro's deception explained.  
www.saveportland.com
Newer site by same person www.debunkingportland.com

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The price of freedom

Imagine, if you will, public life without government grants.


Why would anyone refuse free money?  Isn't that like cutting one's own throat?  Maybe it is the opposite.  It is taking control of one's city, county or state by not letting a bigger fish - usually the federal government, Metro, sometimes foundations and government sponsored organizations - dictate how money is spent and what lesser government's goals and outcomes should be.  Maybe independence starts with freedom from dependence on "free money."

Won't smaller government's go broke or have to raise taxes if grant money is refused?  That depends upon if they can adjust spending to match local revenue.  There are a lot of ways to do this that have been politically untouchable, like privatizing public services and getting out from under union contracts and public pension costs or eliminating popular programs that are not essential.  Freedom has a price.

When children grow up, eventually they establish their independence by supporting themselves.  Once that transition is made, parents have no practical control over what their children do.  Parents and children who keep the financial apron strings attached create a dependency that gets harder and harder to overcome.  This is a simplistic way to describe what has happened to the individual's relationship with government, as well as local and state governments' relationships with the federal government.  We lose the ability to determine our own future by following someone else's goals.

Below is a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal, February 9, 2015 about the dangers of government grants.  What goes for the states, goes for local governments too.

Spenders Appeal to Human Nature
State reforms won't change the human desire for more "free money."
By James Gottschalk, Tequesta, Florida

Re­gard­ing Steve Moore’s “The Tax-Cut­ting Boon Sweep­ing the States” (op-ed, Jan. 30): These state re­forms won’t change the hu­man desire for more “free money.” The sugar daddy of Un­cle Sam will con­tinue to step to the fore to sat­isfy these hu­man and po­lit­i­cal be­hav­iors, the states’ rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Con­gress bat­tling for their slice of the ba­con to bring home, tax and spend­ing re­form ide­ology be damned.

What’s to be done? Fed­eral con­trol of the U.S. bud­get also leaks into federal con­trol of state bud­gets through block grants, tar­geted grants with fed­eral stip­u­la­tions, Med­icaid ex­pansion through ObamaCare, un­funded man­dates and over­reg­u­la­tion. These same gov­er­nors and their leg­is­la­tures insti­tut­ing ra­tio­nal tax and spend­ing pol­icy at home need to steel the spines of their rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Congress to re­sist and re­peal laws that bol­ster fed­eral con­trol over the dole to the states, start­ing with the horse-trad­ing of quid pro quo pork amendments. They also need to steel their own spines and resist the al­lure of “free money” where they have the uni­lat­eral power to do so; re­ject­ing stip­u­lated block grants and the ex­pansion of Med­icaid would be a good start.

There must be a re­align­ment of po­lit­i­cal power struc­tures back to a more fed­er­al­ist struc­ture; and that re­align­ment starts with the states rec­og­niz­ing, re­spect­ing and re­cov­ering their rights un­der the 10th Amend­ment.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Asian air invades the U.S.

Pollution in the West put partly on Asia
The Oregonian/OregonLive February 8, 2015  By Tony Barboza

[Ian Faloona] and other scientists at rural, high-altitude sites across the western U.S. Have been documenting rising levels of ozone even as emissions have plummeted nationwide over the last few decades.  

This is worth repeating:  OZONE EMISSIONS HAVE PLUMMETED NATIONWIDE OVER THE LAST FEW DECADES!

Soaring emissions from China and other fast-growing Asian countries are blowing across the Pacific Ocean, they say, increasing baseline levels of ozone in the western U.S.  In about a week, winds carry ozone formed by emissions from cars, factories and power plants in Asia to the U.S. West Coast, where it can add to local,y generated pollution, worsening smog in coastal cities.  

The phenomenon is fueling a debate about just how much Asia is to blame for bad air in the U.S., one that could soon have health consequences for people across the West.  

Experts say that as U.S. air quality improves, Asian emissions - previously thought to have a negligible effect on smog levels, particularly in western states that sit at a higher elevation and a re first exposed to the pollutants.  In a Develooment that has troubled health advocates, some local pollution regulators have begun arguing they should not be penalized if Asian pollution is causing local smog to exceed health standards under the Clean Air Act.     

Troubled?  The "alarmists" refuse to believe that NOTHING THE U.S. DOES WILL HAVE AN IMPACT ON GLOBAL WARMING if Asian nations are pumping out pollutants faster than Americans can reduce theirs.  Americans shouldn't be free to pollute, but as a nation, we are more than succeeding in reducing ozone-related pollution.  When an American company or automobile owner doesn't want to be judged on pollution coming from someplace else, this is reasonable thinking and not "troubling" at all.  If Asian pollutants were added to the regulatory load U.S. businesses and personal auto use must bear, soon we would have no business and no cars at all!  We can't keep up!  


READ MORE:
Asian ozone pollutes Hawaii and USA West Coast -  varies with climatic shifts
Wattsupwiththat.com

Watts reports on a NOAA study that demonstrates ozone pollutin in Hawaii and the USA west coast is driven by pollution from Asia.  Ozone pollution in the USA can be attributed to natural climatic shifts.


Please see website and search for title - my copy/paste function is not working.