Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Non-carbon energy in our future

Small, scalable, nuclear reactors.  
This may not be a good thing, even to anti-carbon environmentalists, but safer nuclear technology is viable, it's here, and it will be employed.

One player in the field of small nuclear reactors is Corvallis-based, NuScale Power, with technology developed at Oregon State University.  NuScale's reactors will be ready for deployment sometime in 2023-2024 with the first plant going to Idaho.  Other Western states (including Oregon) are in a loose alliance and will follow Idaho's lead.

New, innovative, large-scale nuclear energy 
At this point, Russia and China have taken the lead in nuclear power technology and are speeding ahead with production of new, full-size plants.  They will lead world mRkets because they can get things done - a complete reversal of fortunes in just one generation. Government regulation - an awesome power by itself.

Wall Street Journal, April 29, 2015  By Eric McFarland
Rethinking the U.S. Surrender on Nuclear Power
Russia and China are racing to profit from an energy source developed—and overregulated—in the West.

The ghosts of Lenin and Mao might well be smirk­ing. Com­mu­nist and au-thor­i­tar­ian na­tions are mov­ing to take global lead­er­ship in, and profit from, the com­mer­cial use of nu­clear power, a technology made pos­si­ble by the mar­ket-dri­ven economies of the West. New re­search and development could en­able abun­dant, af­fordable, low-car­bon en­ergy as well as fur­ther ben­e­fi­cial prod­ucts for in­dus-try and med­i­cine.

Yet out­dated and bur­den­some reg­ula­tions and re­stric­tions have sti­fled nu­clear in­no­va­tion in the U.S. and other West­ern na­tions, and are pushing these op­por­tu­ni­ties to China and Rus­sia.

Pres­i­dent Dwight Eisen­how­er’s Cold War “Atoms for Peace” cam­paign not­withstanding, there has never been any real at­tempt to al­low compet­i­tive, in­no­v­a­tive, pri­vate-sec­tor ex­ploita­tion of nu­clear re­ac­tions. Poten­tial ap­pli­ca­tions that might be co-de­vel­oped with new re­ac­tor sys­tem con­cepts go well be­yond pro­duc­ing sim­ply heat for base­load elec­tric­ity. They in­clude med­ical and in­dus­trial isotope co-pro­duc­tion, large-scale radi­a­tion-in­duced chem­i­cal syn­the­sis, wa­ter treat­ment, food preserva­tion and other ap­pli­ca­tions that cre­ative thinkers will cer­tainly in­vent.

Glob­al­iza­tion is real. Pre­vent­ing the in­no­va­tors in West­ern democ­ra-cies from cre­at­ing new cost-ef­fec­tive tech­nolo­gies us­ing nu­clear re­ac­tions won’t pre­vent it from be­ing done. It’s ironic, but given Amer­i­ca’s ever-bur-den­some nu­clear reg­u­la­tions, it will likely be en­gi­neers from non­de­mo­c­ra-tic, au­thor­i­tar­ian regimes like those in China and Rus­sia who will be free to de­sign the safe and cost-ef­fec­tive com­mer­cial nu­clear tech­nolo­gies of the fu­ture.

Department of Energy
will fund up to Two Small Modular Nuclear Reactors for 2022

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Overrun by development

When land prices go up, and city infrastructures are stressed, developers must make their case that they belong in a city.  Some are offering amenities the city needs, or making plans to mitigate the problems they will bring.

For years home builders have had to give up land for open space if they wanted to build in a city.  This is legal because the city determines how much new housing will impact city services and demands the exaction.  Development rights, along with precious land, are a sellers' market now, and the city is in the driver's seat.  If this wasn't so, then why are developers eager to tear down any building in town to build something new.  Why should we incentivize this behavior?

On a smaller scale than Silicon Valley, Lake Oswego does not need to bend over backwards to please developers; the city can ask for more.  What is it worth to allow more intense development only to lower our quality of life?  What should we be asking for?

Wall Street Journal, April 28, 2015  By Eliot Brown
Tech Expansion Overruns Silicon Valley
Resistance to office developments raises questions about future of industry’s home base

Water isn't California's only scarce resource.

Room to grow is evap­o­rat­ing in Sil­i­con Val­ley as tech­nol­ogy gi­ants’ ap­petites for ex­pan­sion are running up against res­i­dents weary of clogged streets and cramped classrooms brought about by the boom of re­cent years.

Some com­mu­ni­ties are al­ready saying they have reached their lim­its of de­vel­op­ment, while oth­ers sig­nal that day is near, rais­ing ques­tions about the abil­ity of the tech sec­tor to keep ex­pand­ing in what has long been its home base.

“The econ­omy has out­grown the place,” said Gabriel Met­calf, chief exec­u­tive of the Bay Area regional-planning-fo­cused non­profit SPUR. “The speed of eco­nomic change is much faster than the speed of com­mu­nity change.”

There are com­muters “back­ing up on to our city streets that are caus­ing tremen­dous in­con­ve­niences for our res­i­dents,” said Randy Tsuda, Mountain View’s di­rec­tor of com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment. “It’s now com­pro­mis­ing gen­eral liv­abil­ity.”

“Sil­i­con Val­ley is re­ally strain­ing to deal with traf­fic and trans­porta­tion,” he said. 

Just to the north­west in Palo Alto, long an epi­cen­ter of ven­ture cap­i­tal and top star­tups, ten­sions are run­ning higher. The City Coun­cil in late March ap­proved a plan that would cap an­nual of­fice develop­ment at just 50,000 square feet in three main commer­cial ar­eas of the city.

Real-es­tate de­vel­op­ers and tech com­pa­nies, fear­ful
such re­sis­tance could hin­der growth around their head­quar­ters, have been of­fer­ing numer­ous ben­e­fits with pro­posed de­velop­ments in an at­tempt to offset the added strains they bring. To help clear the way for de­vel­op­ment in Moun­tain View, for instance, the firms have of­fered a va­ri­ety of give-backs rang­ing from added parks to trans­porta­tion improve­ments, some of which were re­quested by the city.

For now, as the firms plot ways to ex­pand, of­fice va­cancy is rapidly disap­pear­ing, caus­ing rents to soar in the most pop­u­lar com­mu­ni­ties.

For now, rents—and oc­cu­pancy—are at far more rea­son­able lev­els in cities to the south, such as Santa Clara and San Jose. That is largely be­cause em­ploy­ers view these cities as too long a com­mute from San Fran­cisco, which has emerged as the home base for young em­ployees.

Mean­while, the rapid rise in costs in the more pop­u­lar cities makes life dif­fi­cult for ex­ist­ing employers, par­tic­u­larly those lack­ing piles of cash. For in­stance, the nonprofit SETI In­sti­tute re­cently gave up about one-third of its space at its tiny Moun­tain View head­quarters.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bring out the kid in you

Introducing a new website to the Website/Blog List: Web Urbanist.  This is from a recent posting - check out the website for more.

New Articles Daily on Urban ArchitectureArtDesignTravel, and Technology
Fantastic Cities: 48-Page Urban Coloring Book Made for Adults

Coloring books are no longer just for kids, as this one designed for adult colorists illustrates in beautiful black and white. Showing urban scenes both real and imagined, these fictional, actual and hybrid views could take hours each for enthusiasts to fill in, and, psychologists argue, may even profit mental health benefits beyond the fun of simply reliving a childhood activity.

Recreating the world

The idea of man playing God does not seem so fantastic anymore.  For those who like their world natural - the way our ancestors found it (or as closely as possible) - the future could be bleak.  For those who embrace a brave new world that tinkers with nature to improve current and future conditions globally - you are in luck.

From any viewpoint, this article from Fast Company is fascinating.  This certainly isn't how I imagined technology would be used to assist with a warming planet.

Now That We Can Geoengineer The Planet, What If Someone Decides To Do It?
FastCompany.com - Exist

The technologists' dream of remaking the world to live with our carbon emissions is here. How do we stop one panicked country from deciding it's time to press the button?

Read more about 
Solar Radiation
Management in Wikipedia
Different types of geoengineering - land and ocean-based as well as atmospheric - are described.

NASA Proposes Spraying Stratospheric Aerosols In Earth's Atmosphere
Collective Evolution, April 18, 2014 By ArjunWalia

It’s really amazing how many people are waking up to the fact that “chemtrails” are different from “con-trails.” What was once considered a conspiracy to many is now a fact, chemicals are constantly sprayed into our atmosphere and have been for quite some time now.

Not long ago, NASA personnel gave a lecture (that was also streamed live) at their Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology. It was a series of talks by scientists and engineers exploring the topic of Geoengineering and Climate Intervention. (1)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Where are the adults??

Southwest Corridor Plan 

Monday, April 20 Meeting Update
In every family, classroom, youth group and playing field, there are adults around to tell the kids, "That's not reasonable.  It might be a fun idea, but we can't afford it, and it would be too complicated to do it for the benefit we would get, so it won't be considered.  We need to find a better idea."

Where were the adults last night at a meeting for the Southwest Corridor Plan?  Where have they been from the inception of this plan?  Tualatin and Tigard have voted not to spend money on high capacity transit, but even their wishes don't count.  Metro is acting like the big bully in the playground, but it is the pseudo-adult too!  Elected officials from the affected communities, with one exception, Lake Oswego Mayor, Kent Studebaker, have fallen into line with Metro planners on the Southwest Corridor Plan.

The Plan has become ridiculous.  Nothing seems to be out of the realm of possibility.  I can imagine planners sitting around a big table brainstorming, with the public invited to tell them their "wants", and coming up with a plan that looks bad, even on paper.  It's as if someone said, "I think this is a good idea," so it went into the plan.  There are no filters on these guys.

The LRT plan to tunnel under the West Hills to get from the  end of downtown Portland to Hillsdale.  The OHSU station would be 200 feet underground and construction would take out the dental school and a parking garage. (Not kidding - it was on the slide.) The Hillsdale station would be 150 feet deep.  A cut-and-cover tunnel might then be built through a grade school playing field to get to Bertha Blvd.  Another tunnel is an option for PCC.

The BRT could also use the tunnel, so switching to that mode would not automatically reduce costs.  Only surface infrastructure would be cheaper (not cheap), but the "shared investment strategy" would leave participating cities' and state residents on the hook for much of the cost. (Thank you Kent and Lake Oswego City Council!). The BRT would take up 2 lanes of auto traffic for their own, dedicated roadways for about 70-80% of the route, so auto congestion would be worse!  Note:  To get Federal "New Start" grant money, BRT systems must have dedicated lanes for 50% of their route.  The fix is in from the top down.

There is no consideration of road improvements, even though travel time differences won't be that different:  LRT and BRT times from PSU to Tualatin are 31 -34 minutes.  How long does it take you to drive there?  There are better ways to handle the numbers of travelers on the roadways.  Lots and lots of regular buses; BRTs that operate in regular traffic and have preferred signalization, intersection improvements and turn-outs. And while they are at it, try outsourcing Trimet personnel for huge savings - as soon as it can be done (when the whole system goes broke?).

The very rough costs are below.  The numbers are in 2014 dollars and do not account for cost overruns and bad estimating which typically jacks the price up 150% to 200%.

LRT with Tunnel:  $2.1 to $3.2 Billion 

LRT surface route:  $1.8 to $2.0 Billion

Roadway improvements, intersection and signal changes: Not listed, not discussed, nowhere to be found.  

Where people go to and come from

Visualizing Which Countries People Are Trying To Get Away From, And Where They're Going

A new tool combined country-level and census data to reveal how people move across the planet. 

Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Human Capital, Vienna


Monday, April 20, 2015

WEB decision: SELL

The West End Building: It's time to let it go. 

Last Tuesday, the City Council confirmed in a 5 to 2 vote, their decision to sell the West End Building  The meeting was called a "thoughtful pause" to reflect on why the property was being sold.

The meeting did not change the original decision to sell the WEB, though community members made a final plea to keep what they felt was a last chance for a community / recreation center.

There have been two sticking points that have never changed since the building with its 14-acre property was purchased in 2006:  The expense of the purchase and operating costs: and the lack of a clear plan that the citizens support.  In the last decade, neither problem has been resolved while the building has soaked up $1 million per year in financing and operating costs, not including the planning that has gone into property uses (over $2 million for the initial concept planning).

Looking back, minutes from a public hearing on July 24, 2007, tell of community conflict surrounding citizen reaction to the purchase.  Another meeting on June 11, 2007, reveals the lack of a clear vision of what the council and citizens wanted after they had the property; the same list of competing interests arose then, as now, with no way to resolve them all.

USC Observations:
1.  The WEB property has been on the market since 2012.  Redevelopment Director, Brant Williams, was in charge and fielded inquiries himself.  Using word-of-mouth to market the building, he presented few offers.  In mid-2014 the council hired Cushman Wakefield to handle the sale and a For Sale sign went up immediately.  They have produced 11 sealed, qualified, offers that the city is considering now.  Why did the Council wait so long to engage a professional real estate firm to market the property?  Hiring outside, firms with no connections to the city is a better way to do business.  Now let the pros broker the final deal!

2.  At the October 14, 2006 City Council
meeting, Brant Williams reported that a wetlands study had been done and of the 14+ acre property, only 7-8 acres were developable.  Councilor Jack Hoffman commented that the wetlands deliniation may be too generous.  An architect site plan deliniated these wetlands. This figure differs greatly from the Sensitive Lands area that the site has now.  Since the site has not changed in any way, why change the natural resource classification?  It's a legal technicality that was brought up 2 years ago when a sale was imminent.  It seems like when the city's interests are concerned, some wetlands are less sensitive than than others - but that's just my non-legal cynicism speaking. The city attorney has more information on the legal issues regarding these natural resources that aren't.

Draft Map of Sensitive Lands 2008: Shaded areas are SL designated in 1998, outlined areas were proposed for addition.  

3.  At  a July 24, 2007 Public Hearing,  Mr. Alec Holser testified about the troubled economics of the WEB purchase and potential use as a recreation center. At the end of the meeting, Mayor Hammerstad thought the council needed some time to consider the evening's testimony as it was 50:50 for and against keeping the WEB, and create a plan that would bring people together.

It's been 8 years since then and nothing has changed.  It was never going to be what people imagined, and there was no way the problems could have been resolved.  Now it will be sold.

Give it your best shot!

Take the 
2015 Lake Oswego 
Community Attitudes Survey

It only comes around every 2 years (or so), and now is the time to make your preferences known.  The results of the survey are used to prioritize or initiate city projects.  It is in your best interest to tell the powers that be what you want.

Start from the city's home page and find the link in the list of news and events.  Don't wait!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Green love affair with trees

Is Lake Oswego primed for a wildfire?
It seems silly to ask what wildfires have to do with trees.  So then why do some "greens" dislike any tree being cut, and then blame climate change for the ferocious wildfires that follow, rather than their tree-saving forest practices that stuffed the land with tnoo many trees?

Urban forest practices are no different.  Forest thinning and selective tree removal in populated areas, can reduce the risk of urban wildfires, but few understand forest the need for proper tree thinning for tree health, fire reduction, and wildlife habitat.

Lake Oswego had 49% tree cover when last reported in 2009, up from 45%.  Our tree canopy is growing.  No one has come up with a figure of what is enough or too much tree canopy - if not 100% then what?  Note: USC does not condone wild tree-cutting with no regard for aesthetics and neighborhood character, and understands the need for trees in locations to halt erosion and protect streams and wetlands.

Remember when there were NO tree codes?  Yes, Virginia, it's true.  Before government intervention, people used their brains to tell them what to do.

From the Lake Oswego Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan.  Plan is viewable on city website:  from main page, select Departments, then City Manager.  Emergency Info is one of the tabs - there is a lot of good information there.

Get ready for another hot forest fire season
Wall Street Journal, April 18, 2015 
Commentary by Kyle Dickman

With Cal­i­for­nia in the midst of a megadrought and most of the West nearly as parched, this year’s wild­fires al­ready threaten to be­come the biggest, costli­est and most de­struc­tive in U.S. his­tory. Scarier still is that the fed­eral For­est Ser­vice pre­dicts that nearly every fire sea­son for the foresee­able fu­ture will be as bad or worse. That’s why we need to change how we deal with wild­fires.

A cen­tury of ag­gres­sive wild­fire sup­pres­sion has cost the lives of more than 1,000 fire­fight­ers and turned many of Amer­i­ca’s forests into tin­der­boxes. In some ar­eas of New Mex­i­co’s San­gre de Cristo Mountains, there are 1,600 trees per acre where a cen­tury ear­lier there were 200 per acre. The combina­tion of over­grown woods and a warm­ing climate has made wild­fires harder to con­trol.

Part of the prob­lem is that, as the Mc­Cain-Flake-Bar­rasso bill rec­ognizes, the forests need to be thinned be­fore fires can be al­lowed to burn unchecked. Oth­er­wise, even prescribed fires can get out of con­trol. An­other part of the prob­lem is activists who think thin­ning is harm­ful for forests and the habi­tat they pro-vide for an­i­mals and birds. This is not the ex­ces­sive log­ging of the 1970s and ’80s. Thin­ning in smart ways preserves habi­tat by help­ing pre­vent huge, un­con­trol­lable wild­fires.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Blinded by the sun

Spring Sunbreak
USC is taking the weekend off to enjoy the sunshine and catch up on work and the yard.  I have a backlog of stuff to share, but it will have until Monday.  Please enjoy past blog posts - there are over a thousand to choose from, or pick a link from the menu on the right.

I leave you with the work of artist, Sister Corita Kent, and poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

LUBA decision on Wizerr Block

Land Use Board of Appeals took extra time to make their decision on the Wizer Appeal ... 

....and decided Wednesday that the city was not incorrect in its findings on the appeal of the Wizer development.  You could have fooled me.

The petitioners have 21 days to decide if they will appeal the decision to the Oregon Court of Appeals.  After that, a final appeal would be before the Oregon Supreme Court.

At this point, Evergreen Group, LLC, (Patrick Kessi's group of investors) still has a valid permit to build their monster apartment building in downtown LO.


Monday, April 13, 2015


This time the term, "power grab" works.  And it isn't pretty.
Let's hope our state officials have guts to say no, and the moral commitment to servw the citizens of Oregon and not an ideology.
Since this issue is non-partisan, and the blog maintains to be issue-oriented, I have X'd out parties and names. You can guess, but the issue's the thing.

The State Electricity Revolt
The Wall Street Journal, April 9, 2015
Review and Outlook - Ray's Journal

A promising way to resist XXXX federal climate coercion 

The Environmental Protection Agency is finishing a rule—expected in June or July—that requires the states to meet carbon-reduction targets by reorganizing their “production, distribution and use of electricity,” as the EPA puts it. This is an unprecedented federal usurpation of what has been a state responsibility since the invention of the modern steam turbine in the 1880s.
  The plan hangs on an obscure section of the 44-year-old Clean Air Act. That law’s section 111(d) was well understood but the EPA has published a new interpretation of these several hundred words that runs 1,200 pages. No less a dean of legal liberalism than Harvard’s Larry Tribe is stunned by this attempt to nationalize U.S. electric generation.

States will be told to meet the targets using four “building blocks.” The first is uncontroversial: improving the efficiency of fossil-fuel power plants and installing pollution-control technology like smokestack scrubbers. But for the first time the EPA is also telling states to roam “outside the fence line” of power plants to force coal and eventually natural gas to shut down, mandate quotas for renewables like wind and solar, and impose energy conservation.

The problem is that the federal government has no legal power outside the fence line. Last year the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals slapped down the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s bid to claim authority over “demand response” on the electric grid.

Thus the EPA is trying to coerce the states into doing what it can’t do itself. Most will need to pass new laws or rush through new rules to comply, jammed into a single year. The EPA wants to embed policy changes that a XXXXX President couldn’t reverse and deny Governors and legislatures the time to think through the consequences. But some states are thinking, and they may tell the agency: No mas.

In particular, states would avoid making themselves complicit in dangerous behavior. Virtually everyone who understands the electric grid, from state utility commissions to the regional transmission operators, warns that the EPA’s ambitions threaten reliability. These apolitical organizations think brownouts or cascading blackouts are possible.

To take one example, the northeast blackout of 2003 cost about $13 billion, and the New York Independent Systems Operator now reports that the EPA’s reductions “cannot be sustained while maintaining reliable electric service to New York City.” It calls the plan “inherently unreasonable” that “no amount of flexibility can fix.” This is not Texas talking.

The section 111(d) rewrite will be litigated for years or decades and almost certainly resolved by the Supreme Court. The 2016 White House budget requests $52 million merely to hire lawyers to defend this single rule. It would be prudent for states to postpone cooperation until the lawsuits shake out, rather than spend billions of dollars now that may turn out to be unnecessary.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is urging Governors to wait before cooperating, and the irony is that the White House is assailing him for “interfering” with state deliberations. The truth is that the EPA is attempting to steal state sovereignty in order to dominate everything from power plants to ceiling fans. The EPA’s imperiousness is creating the case for noncooperation. States can only protect their energy futures by declining to do the EPA’s dirty work.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Oops! I forgot to tell you..

about...the joint City Council / Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday night.  The planning staff will present the Draft Plan of the Southwest Employment Area to both bodies and let them know the Advisory comments and concert so far in the planning stages.  The staff will look to these bodies for direction on how to proceed with planning going forward.

This is a great meeting for comments (email prior to the meeting, or in person on Tuesday) from citizens.   


Don't waste any time!
Get your comments in!

SWEA plan swirls in debate

Southwest Employment Area struggles to figure out what it wants to be.  

"Maybe it's time to update my look.  Some people say I'm too shabby, though others still like my utilitarian use!  I'd really like to do both."  It feels good to be one of the last places working people can go in the city to make things."

"What I don't want is to become another boutique shopping or business area with a Lake Oswego address.  I think people are tired of that.  Even people with money want to see some meat and potatoes on their plate - no one can live on appetizers and desserts alone.  Except for Walmart and Safeway, the grocery shopping choices in town increasingly have people driving to Fred Meyer, Winco, or other places because food in Lake Oswego has gone upscale.  Real people actually live here, and our down-to-earth character is disappearing." 

My industrial history shouldn't be thrown
under the bus.  Real products are made here.  Most people don't know that the city's biggest employer, is located in my area, in part because the land has been inexpensive enough for them to expand their operations here.  I know they would like to see a more dress-up district, but it needs to be affordable.

"If the speculators got their way, no light industrial business will be able to locate here ever again.  There are speculators swarming about now, even looking at buying up the Les Schwab and old OTAK properties for more upscale development.  'Highest and best use' is what the real estate industry call it."

"What do I want you ask?"   

"What do I not want?"

"I want the city to play fair.  I don't want them to fix up some roads and leave others as is, because land prices will go up on the former and languish on the latter.  A form of crony capitalism.  The same goes for incentives like waiving fees or lowering parking requirements.  What about existing property owners - they would be at a disadvantage because the incentivized properties would be worth more due to government subsidies.  Let the market make the decision about what things are worth - incentives -subsidies- only make things worse - and unfair."

"I don't think the city can afford to do all that the designers have put forth without another urban renewal district.  If the City Council agreed to the plan, there would be a citizen revolt.  The city should look at a more modest plan that does the most with the money it has, and does it fairly."

"By keeping the plan more modest, the options for employment types will expand.  Isn't that what we want?  Jobs for all Lake Oswegans, not just the doctors and lawyers?"  

"Think twice, or three times about making this a mixed-use area.  That will invite a residential community with limited retail and shopping on the ground floor.  Retail and shopping are destination businesses and don't employ many people at high-wage jobs, and apartments are warehouses for people with very few employees per acre of land."

"Keep light industrial alive because that type of use is disappearing in close-in areas.  Add office too.  Keep building height low and that will keep necessary parking area lower too.  Lower building heights will also be more acceptable to the community. But overall, keep parking requirements high!  Don't repeat recent mistakes!"

"Consider the neighbors.  The residential neighborhoods need to be protected from traffic, parking and increased land use from zone changes."  

"And keep me REAL. Keep me vital and my purpose meaningful.  The land speculators who want to develop more intensely bought industrial land.  If they bet on something else, then deal with it!" It will still be a nice industrial-commercial area."

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Clackamas County BOC at Athey Creek April 21

I know, let's have a "vibrant" economy! 
OK, where? 
Let's put it where it's needed most.
Nah, let's just put it where we want it.
Oh, OK.  I do want to fit in and be popular.

It sounds like the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners wants economic development. OK.  The only problem is, do they know how a government can make a "vibrant" economy?  Can they do it in the way they have in mind, and will it be vibrant? 

The CCBOC is holding a series of town halls to talk to county residents about "growing a vibrant economy".   Is this another event for citizens so everyone can pretend there was public involvement?  When I hear the word "vibrant", I think of smart growth communities and town centers.  Would economic development go to areas where unemployment is the highest, or to places where Metro wants growth to occur?

There are predictable consequences when government gets involved in anything: It usually doesn't work very well, and it costs a lot of money to do it. And when it doesn't work out as planned, it's not that the plan was no good, it's because there wasn't enough money.  

"The most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"             -- Ronald Reagan 

The first town hall is at Athey Creek Middle School in Stafford - a curious place to start the tour - on Tuesday, April 21, at  6:30 PM.  The theme of the town hall is, "Growing a Vibrant Economy".  Athey Creek Middle School is at 2900 Borland Rd., Tualatin, OR.

Clackamas County theme on 'Growing a Vibrant Economy' set for April 21 in Stafford
Oregonlive, March.31, 2015 By Tom Heider

The theme is a priority of Performance Clackamas, a strategic plan previously adopted by the County.  While the first half of the Q and A will be on economic issues, attendees are free to raise questions of any nature related to the county during the second half.

Later this year, town halls have also been set for Milwaukie, Canby and Welches, each to focus on different priorities of Performance Clackamas.  More on these points at http://www.clackamas.us/performance/

Friday, April 10, 2015

Stafford Hamlet in the cross hairs

Why Stafford?  

Because it's a great place to live, and because it's there.  

Why now?
Because Metro, Clackamas County and the State made such a mess out of Damascus, they need a "win" on bringing new, developable land into the UGB.  And developers want it.  

What's going on?  
Developers, land speculators, Metro and state legislators can't believe their power isn't infinite.  For them it's winner-take-all rather than a win-win compromise.   

There was a meeting of officials from local jurisdictions, Metro and the state at the Wilsonville City Hall on Monday 4/6.  The meeting was closed to the public - invitees only.  Is there a "grand bargain" in the works, or a demolition derby?  

Until Stafford is brought into the Metro Urban Growth Boundary, investors (Stafford Land Owners Association, Inc.) cannot urbanize the area with their plan for compact neighborhoods, a town center and 4,000 new residents.

The residents of Stafford Hamlet created their own compromise plan for the area they hope will satisfy all parties and give each something they want, while giving no one everything they hoped for.  The plan allows investors to develop homes on 5-acre parcels that fit the character of the hamlet and would add just 200 new homes.  No new infrastructure would be needed!

No city in the area can afford to take on development in Stafford with the horrendous costs of added infrastructure, and the negative impacts increased density would bring to local transportation infrastructure.  Our own water, sewer, storm water and street maintenance fees are already causing a hardship for city residents, and LO is not finished upgrading its utility and transportation infrastructure - and will never be done completely.  Other cities are in the same boat. Where is the magic the legislature or Metro will bring to make their grand, "smart" plans work?

Where is the emergency? 

Sponsored by Committee on Rural Communities, Land Use, and Water

Title:  Relating to post-acknowledgement changes to regional framework plan in 
Metro; declaring an emergency.

Summary:  Validates urban reserves adopted by Metro and Clackamas County.  Declares emergency, effective on passage.  

Submitted by Representative John Davis (R-Wilsonville)

USC Note:  Article below is from last October and while current conditions may have changed, it is presented here for the excellent history of land use in the hamlet.

 Both of the images in this post are from the Oregonian story.

Stafford residents say hamlet should be off limits to urbanization, except for Borland Rd.
Oregonian, October 15, 2014, By Michael Bamesberger

Residents of the Stafford Hamlet have voted overwhelmingly in favor of asking county and Metro's officials to designate much of the hamlet off limits to an expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary.

LUBA decision on Wizer block

And the verdict is...

                      You'll have to wait until next week.

The Land Use Board of Appeals hearings board has extended deliberations in the Wizer appeal another week - no explanation as to why, and no hint as to which way they are leaning.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Trees that take my breath away

What Man does to trees
If you idolize trees, if you make them into untouchable beings with rights to exist unmolested by man, if you do your praying in a forest and can't tolerate man felling one of the ancient Giants, then you wouldn't have these - and that would be a tragedy.

Man walks with nature, led by the hand of God.   

For information on the Haida Gwaii culture and carvings, consider these sources:

Totem Poles, 'Present at the Creation'  www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1150851

Thursday SWEA meeting at 4:30 pm

SouthWest Employment Area Advisory Committee Meeting 

Thursday, April 9, 2015, 4:30 - 6:30 pm
Lakeridge Jr. High (formerly Waluga Jr. High)

This is a public meeting - the public is welcome and may make comments
Read the consultants' report prior to the meeting for a view of planning so far.

As the name suggests, the land use plan for the SWEA is intended to be about creating an area conducive to more employment other than existing, low intensity industrial.  Development would presumably be geared toward manufacturing, office and retail services, though it's starting to look like a mixed-use world just as so many other places these days.  If Metro gives grant money for planning, you know what to expect.

Mixed-use is the new land use theory in style today.  Imagine every commercial area of Lake Oswego awash in 3+ story buildings with residential units on the all floors or just the upper floors, then you have an idea of what the planners have in mind for our city.  That includes all of Kruse Way where building heights can go up to 150 feet, all of Lake Grove, all of the SW Employment Area and Foothills Mixed-Use Area (industrial zones are so un-cool and with a low-tax base), and all of downtown and Old Town.  There are also the Neighborhood Villages like Roaewood and Palisades where dense commercial and housing uses can occur.

I don't think residents of Lake Oswego are aware of, or are ready for, this kind of change to their city.  Even the single family neighborhoods will be under assault from builders dividing large lots into two or more for big homes, and altering forever the suburban character of the town.  What was and st ill is a predominately family-oriented, small, suburban town, is poised for dramatic change.  Other cities still have discrete zones that keep multifamily, commercial and industrial uses in separate zones, but the New Urbanist mixed-use, compact form has quietly crept into Lake Oswego development codes and zoning.  Hello Smart Growth.

Back to SWEA.  The consultant's report says the Transportation Plan (TSP) has plans for sidewalks along Lakeview Blvd. south of Pilkington.  This is curious because during the creation of the TSP, it was revealed that the traffic level on Lakeview was low and the road did not rise to the level of an upgrade that would need sidewalks or other improvements.  Kittelson and Associates advised that Lakeview Blvd. was not a good candidate for elevation to a higher level with wider lanes and sidewalks.  Lakeview has a 38' ROW when the plan calls for 60',

The homes abutting the industrial land flood during heavy rains due to un-permitted paving on the former Pacific Lumber site that allows water to run off to private homes rather than drain on site.  Increased traffic, parking, expanded ROW with sidewalks would greatly impact the livability of the Rosewood neighborhood.  Is anyone paying attention?   The city can't or won't address basic sanitation (effluent seepage) and water drainage issues caused by property in the city.   No doubt the city is waiting for a wholesale urban improvements before they touch the problems of county residents, but this is immoral and it is easy to fix.  The property owner is the responsible party - the city should enforce its codes.

This is just ONE of the many problems that are evident in the SWEA plan.  While consultants,
planners, property owners and developers make their grand plans, they need to consider conditions here on Earth, and the effects on real people living in the area and in the city as a whole. Can we afford their plans?  Watch and see how the plan develops over the next few months.  Is this what the citizens of LO want?  Are they staying true to the city goal of making this a functional "Employment Area" with a lot of new, well-paid jobs?

Who is going to pay for all of this?  I sense another Urban Renewal District coming...  Noooo!  Will the RR allow one more at-grade crossing at Jean Rd.?  Probably not.  

The alternatives presented so far seem to concentrate on the intersection of Jean Rd. and Lakeview Blvd.  The entire area has not been fleshed out, but you can get an idea of where they are going.  Time to get your 2-cents in.   See the full report for detailed explanations of the draft plan.



The patience of trees

Hungry Trees

Leaving one's bicycle next to a tree and forgetting about it seems to be a common mistake.  Then there are fences, headstones, and whatever else is in a tree's path - the tree just consumes the obstacles in its way.  This is a good time to check behind your trees to see what might be forgotten there.  Click to enlarge photos.