Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Renewed hope for City Hall

I am basically an optimistic person.  I would not waste my time writing this blog, going to meetings, researching issues, and talking to people if I thought there was no hope for making things better.  I want to work with people to get things done, rather than engage in endless, pointless struggles.

Someone once told me that the definition for depression is the lack of hope.  If that's true, then my feelings of frustration, anger and sadness come from my waning sense of optimism in the fairness and functionality of local government.  City Hall is not the place residents can go for help.

If you believe that the tree code is tough and the city will bend over backwards to prevent your neighbor from cutting a special tree or too many trees, then you haven't seen how differently they treat developers.

If you think Lake Oswego has difficult and complicated development codes that protect our quality of life, then you haven't seen the grotesque twisting of codes to favor some disastrous developments in unsuspecting neighborhoods.

And if you think that the City Council's move to strike "but not excessive" from the parking policy in the comprehensive plan means parking modifiers should have been thrown out of the codes by now, well, you just don't know City Hall.

Stakeholder committees?   Citizen participation?

I could go on, but what's the use.  Why bother?   Why would an otherwise optimistic, civic-minded, hard-working and principaled person, who believes in making the city the best it can be for the people who live here, feel so discouraged?   Because the system is designed to make it so.  The courageous ones are the people who remain involved year after year knowing how their message is being received.  They have faith that our citizen-led, democratic system will prevail against bureaucracy and cronyism.  They have hope.

For your dose of  hope  today, I offer this short video about overcoming barriers to citizen involvement government.  Godspeed.

T.E.D. Talks:
The antidote to apathy


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Urban planning from the human side

What happens when a city is planned by a planner with a pen and a map?  

You get an unlivable city.  

If this wasn't your first thought then keep reading, because very likely you are part of the problem.  And for certain you don't live in a part of the city that is experiencing a barrage of unwelcome changes forced upon you by City Hall and its paid consultants.

This is a story about Central Planners (CP)*.

Central Planners don't think the same way you and I do.  And yet, in a so-called democracy, even a representative democracy, they are the ones with the power to shape our lives.  At the very least, they add a level of worry and agitation that doesn't need to be there.  We pay the salaries of the people who control us, and at the end of each work day, they go home to rest, and then return to start planning again the next day and the next.  The planning never slows and it never ends.

We shouldn't have to fight the people we pay to serve us - or do they?

Planning with a pen and a map
University urban planning departments are filled with courses on the social, economic, environmental and who-knows-what contexts of how cities are and should be planned.  Some of that is fine, but most of it is cutting edge theory, not based on how people really live or what they want for their lives.  Their mission is to go forth and show us a better way.   Limited living and limited lives are in our future.  The theories abound.  (There are theories for the growth of this negative world view and the rise of Utopianism, but that's another story.

Armed with a well-versed theory of smart growth, learned and repeated over and over until it sounds true, and a map of our city and region, the CP takes out his or her pen and starts to "imagine" a "vision" of what your street and mine can look like.  "Wouldn't it be great if...?" They ask each other.  After awhile they lose sight of what things cost and where the money will come from, what the neighbors want, or the likelihood their ideas will work as planned.  The map and the research numbers show them everything they need to know.

This is the state of planning today.

Planning with people  
This is a kind of planning that throws the book out the window and requires COs to check their egos at the door.  It isn't their plan.  They are the facilitators, not the creators.  The priorities are on the residents, not the crony capitalists.  The city's inhabitants are the most important concern in any planning scheme, and you can't understand or know them from a study or a book.  They are the ones who must live with the consequences, and for those of limited means, the option of packing up and moving to a better place may not be possible.  are our responsibility to watch out for - Period.

How to do planning in the 21st Century
Do what you would have done in the 19th century.  Get out and talk to people.  Go to their homes, knock on doors, invite them (in person) to coffee for a chat.  Spend a lot of time - several months or more - learning about who lives and works in the neighborhood and what they are like.  Most of all, what do the people who live there want for their neighborhood?  What do they want?  What do they like and value?  How do they live?  Do they have financial concerns?  Are they happy living or working where they do?  How can the government make their environment better without screwing things up?  At what cost?  And if there are obstacles to what the residents want, be prepared to go to bat for them!  Take on big bad Metro, lobby state legislatures, do what you can to assure that the community is protected and people can live in their homes unmolested by foreign planning concepts they do not want.  Most of all, be open and honest and treat us with the respect we deserve.  Who's city is it anyway?

What not to do:

  • Don't hire consultants without enough money and a plan to get to know the residents.  
  • Stakeholder committees should be made up primarily of residents based on their desire to be involved, not hand-picked for political reasons or for their professional or pecuniary interests.
  • Don't proceed without checking with the neighbors (yes, all of them) as much as necessary for adjustments to the plan.  The people are the creators of this plan.
  • If there is a conflict over who's needs prevail, there should be no question that residents' needs rank first.
  • Don't just put a notice in the paper or in the city newsletter or on the website.  Most people have complicated, exhausting lives and don't look at these things.  It's like talking to the same small clique and expecting new people to come to the party.  Instead do a door-to-door campaign to get neighbors to a meeting at their local school (not city hall or WEB building!).
  • Put a banner across the Main Street advertising a meeting.  Put flyers in stores and hand them out at events.  If you want more ideas, ask me!
  • Don't have those silly open houses with easels and stations for people to gawk at.  Go ahead and put them up, but have a group presentation and a long period of time for questions where everyone can hear the answers.  And don't try to obscure or deflect the truth.  

Is this a difficult way to do urban planning?
No.  It just takes a new mindset and a willingness to make openness and collaboration more than just words in a mission statement.  It takes effort to see someone else's point of view, especially when you've been trained to see things differently.

Besides, if we have a stake in making the plan that goes beyond mere tokenism of rigged stakeholder committees and public comment cards, then we will be more engaged to make sure it succeeds.

* The term Central Planner/CP is used on this blog as shorthand for a any of a number of people and professions that think they know how best to plan your city, your neighborhood and your life.  Some of them have training and degrees that advance this misconception.  

Most of the time CPs don't live where you do, and most of the time they have a financial or professional interest or political agenda in changing you live. Typically CPs live in comfortable surroundings immune from the problems they force on others, or they live in another city where they do not have to live with the consequences of their decisions.  

CPs have the power to change your life and fortune, and depending upon whether you live in the area to be planned or will profit from the planning, your life and fortunes will rise or fall with the decisions they make.  

CPs are the little-known bureaucrats, the expert consultants, the politicians and do-booder non-profit activists that work tirelessly behind the scenes to "make the world a better place" in their way of thinking.  For them this is hard work because the public (you and me) are not so easily manipulated or so stupid.  Remember that they do not live with the consequences of their decisions - their plans are for us.  The CP's biggest hurdle in planning the world are the masses - and for that they have designed a myriad of deceptions to make believe we have a say in planning decisions.  

Monday, May 18, 2015

Population Control?

How to limit the density and expansion of cities and lessen the burden of population growth?  

One group in Australia has an idea.  Put limits on the immigration rate to keep overall population numbers lower.  It reminds me of a time in the 70s when people in Oregonians felt the same way.

40+ years ago, Oregonians talked about.                            James G. Blaine Society Unwelcome Sign
putting up barriers at the California border… "Don't Californi---- Oregon" was a popular saying.  "Come and visit, but don't stay,"  was a quote by Governor Tom McCall.  We hoped the lack of good-paying jobs would scare off new-comers.  One rainy winter was often enough to send immigrants packing.   If it kept people away, the economic struggle to get by or prosper here was worth it.                                  
Then the California money started pouring in, followed later by hordes of young people who don't seem to care about traditional economic security, and not put off by the drizzly winter.  And contrary to planners' beliefs or wishes, they brought cars and congestion.

For years I've heard people say they wanted to escape the U.S. and move to Alaska (too cold), Australia (too far), or Canada (?).  The new destination I hear about lately is New Zealand or some other island.  Can we bring back the idea of building a moat around Oregon and to make it an island?  Just a thought.

I just signed the petition "Federal government – attention Kelvin Thomson, Federal Member for Wills: An Australia-wide referendum to be as follows: 'Do you agree that Australia should keep on growing at the present rate because of the much higher immigration numbers that the government has introduced? Yes or No.'" and wanted to see if you could help by adding your name.
Our goal is to reach THOUSANDS of signatures and we need your support. You can read more and sign the petition here:
then please send this on to all  you family, friends and your network -  lets spread it out and Kelvin Thomson will read it out in Parliament   - demanding that the government listen to the voice of the people and hold a referendum regarding the  population increase.
Mary Drost
Planning Backlash Inc


Natural resources can stink

Something smells bad here.

All the pollution seems to be coming from government sources, so don't bother to look, nobody should be surprised.  

Government is where fanatics go to work when they want to control other people and their property, and to further their own agenda.  This is tyranny, but we politely call it Natural Resource Protection because it sounds better.

nounplural tyrannies.

arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority.

Friedrich Heyek: 

"It would scarcely be an exaggeration to say that the greatest danger to liberty today comes from the men who are most needed and most powerful in modern government, namely, the efficient expert administrators exclusively concerned with what they regard as the public good."

What am I talking about?  

Sensitive Lands - that beleaguered natural resource program that has been tossed about like a hot potato that no one wants in their back pocket.  The property owners with the bullseye on their land don't want it, the city doesn't want it on their property, neither does the city want it interfering with development of commercial land.  So who wants this Medusa of regulatory evil?  Some city bureaucrats, Metro and State regulators, and everyone else who feels free to impose their will on private property owners.  

Aren't the Sensitive Lands/Natural Resources rules good and necessary for preservation of a healthy environment?  Yes.  Well, maybe, if the science were based on fact, and if there were common sense policies and reasonable decisions about application of regulations.  But this program reeks of political, social and economic injustice of inordinate proportions.  The City Council will hold a study session on this topic on Tuesday, May 19.

City Council Agenda Item 9.1 for tomorrow, May 19:  Study session on Sensitive Lands options - No staff report available.  (Watch Council meeting on TV or city website live - starting at 6:30 pm)
Click HERE to see Draft Natural Resources Program and Powerpoint presentation, and letters from METRO, DLCD, DEQ, and ODFW

Sensitive Lands:
What's Going On?
At the May 11, 2015 Planning Commission meeting, city staff pronounced that the current proposal for revisions to "sensitive lands" was not going to be accepted by the regulatory authorities (Metro, DEQ, DLCD, ODFW) and that there were now two options:  

Option A.  Make some small refinements and retain the current sensitive lands program OR 
Option B.  Start over with a whole new program that increases regulations and regulates even more properties.

The city staff has worked on the new proposal for over a year in conjunction with staff from Metro, DLCD, DEQ and two outside attorneys from Perkins-Coie and Miller-Nash; therefore, it's astounding that at the point of being about to go to public hearings, everything has been called in to question! 

Shifting Requirements...

The new proposal is too complex to describe in an e-mail but here are a few key issues:
  • Last July, the new proposal was put on hold until the city could analyze new LiDAR data and show that the proposed reductions in water area buffers on private property would not decrease shade measurements.  The good news late last year was that the buffer alterations still provide similar shade over the streams as the old "sensitive lands" proposal. In fact, in Springbrook and Tryon Creek watersheds, the new program provides more shade.  (DEQ uses shade as a measurement for the "solar pollutant").  However, now that we can show that the new program does not negatively impact shade, new hurdles and higher standards have been placed in our path.
  • Treed areas on public land and private open space would remain regulated with some increases in regulation.  Trees on private property that are not associated with water area buffers would be relieved of the over-regulation and given a voluntary/incentive based program.  Metro Title 13 allows for compliance via voluntary/incentive based programs but there seem to be no clear and objective standards for how to comply in that manner.
  • Included in the incentives was the option to use existing State tax incentive/deferral programs administered through ODFW.  City staff have been talking with ODFW about utilizing these programs for many months.  Yet, on May 11, ODFW submitted a letter indicating that ODFW doesn't have the staff to administer their programs! 
Why is Lake Oswego being held to different/higher compliance standards than other jurisdictions?

Why are all the regulatory agencies working together against these changes now that we can show through LiDAR data that reducing buffers on private property does no harm to shade?

How can we possibly comply when standards for compliance become subjective and evolving?

So, Now What?
Council Discussion at May 19th Meeting

Does the community want more regulations on more properties and more staff and more oversight? 

We don't think so and the last Community Survey indicated a strong desire for less government control of citizens' properties.

City Council will be discussing the regulatory letters/questions from the various State agencies at their meeting on Tuesday, May 19th and determining next steps.  Have thoughts to share?  You can e-mail council at councildistribution@ci.oswego.or.us  

Stay tuned...
333 S. State Street, Suite V326
Lake Oswego, OR 97034

Friday, May 15, 2015

Urban Forestry Summit

Whose trees?

The City Manager, Scott Lazenby, wrote in a Citizen's View column in the Lake Oswego Review about a city forum to be held on Saturday, May 30, to introduce a dialog about the city's controversial tree code.  If you would like to attend, see the information below and register at the city website.

Lake Oswego has more tree canopy (49%) than most cities in America (27%), and a great deal more than neighboring "green" Portland (29%).  Despite a growing population and hundreds of trees cut per year, Lake Oswego's tree canopy has actually grown.

What is the optimum tree canopy for an urban area?  No one knows for sure.  But that doesn't stop cities and counties from setting higher and higher tree canopy goals.

Portland-area communities look to thicken tree canopy
Oregonian, 8/19/2008 By Shelby Wood

"Leafy Lake Oswego approved its first urban forestry management plan in February, one that local leaders say will be one of the most ambitious tree-protection programs in the state."

In 2008, Judie Hammerstad was  mayor when our urban forestry program was put into place.

The principal question to ask yourself and the city is:
What is the purpose of a tree code?   

From the city codes:

55.02.010 Purpose. Revised 4/15

The purpose of this chapter is to regulate the removal of trees, encourage and assist property owners in managing large forested properties, and prescribe preventative protection measures to avoid damage to trees during site development in order to preserve the wooded character of the City of Lake Oswego and to protect trees as a natural resource of the City.
  • "to regulate the removal of trees."  Why?
  • to "protect trees as a natural resource of the City.."  Define "natural" and "resource".  
What do you think should be the reason the city should have a tree code at all?  Let's look at all codes as if they don't exist and then ask if they need to be there in the first place, and then justify the purpose and the limits of codes.

If you plan to attend the summit or comment on Open City Hall (the city's online comment page), take a moment to think about why we need a tree code.  Some people believe that a strict code is needed because people can't be trusted to do the "right" thing, which usually means what they want them to do.  Others believe that property owners have a personal stake in their property and will take care of their trees, cut and plant new trees, prune and water their trees.  Property owners are far better stewards of the land when left alone than when they have onerous codes that tell them it is they who must be controlled.  


The City of Lake Oswego is hosting an Urban Forestry Summit to discuss the current state of the tree code.
Please join City staff, Councilors and other stakeholders and community members for presentations and facilitated small group discussions about the goals, issues and dimensions of the tree code. There will be light snacks and refreshments available. Registration is limited to 100.
The event will take place on Saturday, May 30 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Adult Community Center, 505 G Avenue.
Please register for the Summit below so that we can best plan for the event.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Hot places to live

Going like HOTcakes

Portland's 25 hottest neighborhoods:
Where the most homes are selling (Q1 2015)
Portland Business Journal, May 11, 2015 By Andy Giegerich

Note:  Neighborhoods are divided by zip code and may appear twice on the list under different zips.

1.     Forest Heights    254
2.     Beaverton / Aloha     204
3.     Foster / Powell     170
4.     Multnomah Village     165
5.     Beaverton / Aloha     163
6.     Oregon City / Happy Valley     158
7.     Tigard / King City     150
8.     Tigard / Metzger     139
9.     Arbor Lodge / Kenton     ( )
10.    Hillsboro / Rock Creek     129
11.    Hillsboro     124
12.    Sellwood / Eastmoreland     122
13.    Hazel wood / Fairview     118
14.    Gresham     117
15.    Lake Oswego     111
16.    Piedmont / Concord     109
17.    West Linn / Lake Oswego     107
18.    St. Johns     105
19.    Mt. Tabor / Hollywood     100
20.    Happy Valley    93
21.    Newberg     92
22.    Gresham     90
23.    McMinville     90
24.    Tualatin     88
25.     Powellhurst-Gilbert / Centennial     87

HOT to trot

Where homes are selling the fastest (Days on market) (Q1 2015)
 Portland Business Journal, Continued
1.     Piedmont-Concordia.    38
2.     Cully.    40
3.     Beaverton / Aloha.    42
4.     Arbor Lodge / Kenton.    45
5.     North Tabor / Hollywood.    46
6.     Sellwood / Eastmoreland.    48
7.     St. Johns.    50
8.     Oak Grove / Oatfield.    52
9.     Foster / Powell.    53
9.     Gresham.    53
9.     Beaverton / Aloha.    53
12.   Clackamas / Gladstone.    57
13.   Pearl / Old Town.    58
14.   Irvington / Grant Park.    59
15.   Forest Heights.    60
16.   Beaverton.     61
17.   Beaverton / Raleigh Hills.    62
18.   Hawthorne / North Tabor.    63
19.   Beaverton / Aloha.    64
19.   Nob Hill.    64
19.   Damascus.    64
22.   Cornelius.    65
23.   Centennial / Glenfair.    66
23.   Beaverton.    66
23.   Gladstone.    66

HOT places to live  

Annual Quick-Reference Guide to 122 Neighborhoods and Suburbs
Portland Monthly, April, 2015  Ed. by Marty Patail and Ramona DeNies

Good news! Portland’s real estate market is brawnier than ever, with nearly 10,000 home sales in 2014and a median price of $305,000—a rip-roaring 9 percent spike (or $25K) from the year before. 

Top 14 neighborhoods by median home price
1.     Healy Heights.    900,000

2.     Arlington Heights.    790,413
3.     Forest Park.    751,000
4.     Hillside.    665,000
5.     Southwest Hills.    640,000
6.     Sauvie Island.    636,400
7.     Eastmoreland.    612,000
8.     Irvington.    599,000
9.     Northwest Heights.    585,000
10.    Grant Park.    573,242
11.    Laurelhurst.    543,950
12.    Beaumont-Wilshire.    512,000
13.    Bridlemile.    486,250
14.    Lake Oswego.    480,000

Map: Change in median home price

Regulations create disparity and despair

Does anyone remember the Milton Freedman book, "Free to Choose"?  In unaffordable Portland, and  regulation-happy Oregon, the free market isn't free.  Individual choice comes through markets responding to consumer, not government, demands.  Do you feel your freedoms slipping away?

The market isn't free to find the true value of housing in Portland, nor respond to the type of housing the customer prefers. The Metro-constructed UGB that put land off limits to home builders was made with good intentions, but it has had the tragic consequence of obliterating housing affordability and limiting housing choice and the livability of urban neighborhoods.

As density increases, housing prices near the center of town (or near jobs) will be more expensive as a function of its desirability.  But the upward pressure on all housing prices would be less if the supply of homes (not just apartments) were allowed to grow.

Government's solution to every societal problem is to throw tax dollars at it.  Subsidized housing for low and middle-income workers would sap the economic strength of the region if enough apartments were built to actually make a difference.  These would be an ongoing cost because most people don't quit wubsidized housing.

Real change involves two things:  1) Thousands of people must decide to move to more elsewhere, or else sacrifice their place in the city for keeping the UGB, and ; 2) The UGB is eliminated, or the concept fundamentally altered to allow more land for housing.

This article from the Portland Business Journal reports on a study that shows middle class jobs (those with salaries between $30,000 and $50,000) have decreased 12% since 1980, while jobs for high and low wage earners have surged.  Coupled with a rise in housing prices, the Portland area has become unaffordable to a growing segment of the population.

Why the ballooning income disparity could force Portland to rethink the Urban Growth Boundary
Portland Business Journal, May 12, 2015  By Eric Siemers

The Portland Business Alliance's new study showing a decline in middle-income jobs in Portland casts a spotlight on housing inequality issues.

The gaps could force the region to think hard about whether the Urban Growth Boundary needs updating.

Most middle-income earners in Portland have been pushed to the metro area's edges where home prices still remaine relatively affordable, though still distant from where many of the workers ply their trade.

The net effect is a shortage of housing affordable to middle-income workers.  But the region's Urban Growth Boundary - a line around the region's perimeter that limits how far this metro area can expand - makes adding new housing inventory a challenge.

"We're land-constrained through regulations," McDonough said. "We're not saying get rid of the Urban Growth Boundary, but it's a 1970s-era policy that we need to be thoughtful about."

Monday, May 11, 2015

"Natural" resourse "protection"

The "Healthy Ecosystems" portion of the Comprehensive Plan is being finalized - finally.  There is a lot to be happy about with the new plan and it will be a relief to many land owners in the city.

Lake Oswego has created an alternate path to achieving Metro's natural resource protection goals.  Existing regulations encumber 10% of residents' private property with uplands tree grove and riparian resource protection.

The Planning Commission will be reviewing the new Healthy Ecosystems Comp Plan section on Monday night, May 11, and will hold a public hearing on May 27.  After the PC hears public testimony and makes it findings and recommendations, the Healthy Ecosystems section will be sent to the City Council for a public hearing, potential changes, and then approval.  If you want to make comments, you don't have to wait for this Monday or the 27th.  Write to the Planning Commission and mark your communications as "testimony".  The sooner you comment, the more opportunity
 the Commission (and Council) will have to consider your points.  As always, be specific.

The plan isn't perfect and still needs YOUR eyes on it before it concludes.  In the new plan, there are some curious changes to the riparian areas, and some changes that should have occurred that didn't - see examples below.  Read the draft Healthy Ecosystems plan and see if it needs more doctoring.

The Case of The Disappearing Wetlands
There has been much hand wringing about the wetlands on the WEB property.  The size of the wetlands area put about 7 acres off limits to development and discouraged some purchasers from making a clean offer.

No worries!  The wetlands are gone!  The city took care of this messy detail last year when they took the wetlands on the property off the map.  At that time, the city said that due to a convoluted technicality in in how they handled the resource protection designation in 1998, the designation was illegal and therefore no wetlands existed.  Huh?  They did leave little blue lines to note streams that have no buffers.  These are very polite (and unnatural) streams.

Even then as now, as owners of the property, the city can undo the error of its ways and put the riparian zones back on the resource protection map, but that would be very inconvenient. This riparian resource area should have remained on the map as determined in 1998 just as it was on other private land.  Don't look to the state to correct this - resourse designation is purely in the hands of the local jurisdiction, aka the city council.

The takeaway is: Natural resources are political decisions and are not based on scientific fact. 

The Case of The Invisible Lake
Oswego Lake has been left off the natural resources map since it was created in the '90s.  Even though the lake is the largest body of water with the most fish and wildlife dependent upon its habitat  for survival, the Sensitive Lands Map never included the lake, and the new Water Resource Area map doesn't correct this.  

"The Title 3 model codes states that “natural lakes” are Primary Protected Water Features. Oswego Lake is considered a man-made lake and therefore is not identified as a Protected Water Feature on the “Metro Water Quality and Flood Management Area Map” (Metro’s adopted Title 3 map)"

It depends upon what your definition of the word "man made" is.  According to Metro's riparian resource map, it looks like Metro thinks Oswego Lake, the Canal, and the WEB property all have abundant water resources, as do many, many homeowners' properties.

The takeaway is: Natural resources are political decisions and are not based on scientific fact. 

My intention here is to point out the inconsistencies that are readily apparent from one property to the next when evaluating what is and is not a natural resource.  When glaring errors in fact are so obvious (and there are more), the whole set of documents - both Comp Plan update and The Codes that follow are not worthy of trust.

The citizens of Lake Oswego deserve better.   

Friday, May 8, 2015

SW Corridor inter-activity

When a government agency puts together a survey and wants public comments, the way the survey questions are constructed determines the outcome.  

Since a number of project options are presented, will people comment on what they do or do not like about the options (as usually happens), or will they have the idea to look beyond the shiny objects and tell the master, what they really think?  Some will, but people rarely stray outside the perimeter of what is put in front of them.  Take the road less traveled - think for yourself and create a comment you want the elites to hear.

Take a look at the map- you will get a preview of what Metro wants.   

But don't worry about what things cost - Metro doesn't, so you can be a magical thinker too!

Discover the interactive map at www.oregonmetro.gov/swcorridormap or link to it from the project website www.swcorridorplan.org . The online comment period runs from May 8-22. If you prefer to fill out a traditional survey rather than answer questions in the map tool, you can go directly to the online survey at www.surveymonkey.com/s/SWCPMay2015.

Welcome to the Southwest Corridor Plan public comment map

Explore this interactive project map and share your views about potential surface and tunnel alignment options in South Portland, Hillsdale and Portland Community College Sylvania Campus. Blue map objects ask you survey questions that will help shape decisions in July, such as whether to continue including tunnel options as part of the project. Gold and black map objects are for presenting information only. Fill out a closing survey with overview questions and opportunity for final comment as you leave the map.

More input and decisions on the Tigard, Tualatin and central Barbur Boulevard areas will continue through the summer and fall.

For links to all Southwest Corridor Plan materials, visit the project library at www.swcorridorplan.org.

The online comment period ends Friday, May 22.

Road-rage, Portland style

C'mon people - learn to share, and know the rules of the road.  I didn't know Oregon had manuals for bicyclists and pedestrians!  Our new (old) "active transportation" needs new brochures and manuals now.  The new manuals might help, then again, one has to read them.

Janet Lee said she snapped this photo of a bicyclist throwing a bike lock at her car during a confrontation on Tuesday evening. Her teenage daughter was driving the car. (Photo by Janet Lee)

Portland bicyclist photographed throwing bike lock at motorist during road-rage incident

Update: The second (non-bike-lock-throwing) bicyclist in the photo has contacted The Oregonian/OregonLive with his version of what happened. Read it below. 
Dear Portland bicyclists: Bike locks are for locking up your ride, not hucking at cars during the evening commute.  

A Portland woman says she has filed a police report against a bicyclist who she says threw a bike lock at her car and kicked her in the arm during a heated exchange east of the Hawthorne Bridge on Tuesday night.
Read the Oregonian web site for the rest of the story.

Here are a few tips from the ODOT Oregon Bicyclist Manual:

Most crashes with motor vehicles happen at road intersections and driveways, where  bicyclists and motorists cross paths. To avoid these crashes, follow PRINCIPLE #2:
ride on the right, with traffic, in a predictable manner.

When motorists and bicyclists collide, the fault is about evenly split between them. Even if you ride responsibly, some motorists may not see you. So remember PRINCIPLE #3: be visible and ride alertly.

The most important rule to remember is ride on the right, in the same direction as the traffic next to you. It’s the law. This way you will be seen by others. When drivers enter a road, change or cross lanes,  they know where to look for possible conflicts. If you are riding with traffic, you are more visible and drivers will more likely yield to you.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

TODAY: Lake Grove Parking Forum

If you want to see what is being planned for parking in the Lake Grove Town Center (shopping district), come to the forum offered by the city at:

6:30 pm, at the WEB Building.

Test the planners for their knowledge and responsiveness to citizen issues.

Things to look for:

  • Will apartment dwellers be able to park in the public lots all day and/or overnight?  What's to stop them?  
  • How will this help local residential streets that are impacted now?  Will there be cut-through traffic?  Will the lots be too far for people to want to use them? 
  • Are the plans based on hopes, theories and guesses, or on research and facts?  To say they are environmentally friendly or part of a compact urban plan is not enough.  The plan has to work!  
  • Will there be enough parking for the businesses that exist and that are planned for the future?  Don't forget about employee parking!!!
  • What auto-to-business ratio are the planners using?  If modifiers are applied for proximity to "transit", or because planners believe people will suddenly begin to start walking and biking to stores and restaurants, there's a good chance parking will be insufficient.  (Current examples are Lake Grove Shopping Center, Oakridge Park Apartments, Wells Fargo Bank.  
  • Even if new lots take the pressure off strained local streets now, what will happen if future apartments and/or businesses are not required to build enough parking spaces to meet their own demands?

Let's hope that the community is heard, and not only will the lots function as hoped, but that future development is required to supply adequate parking for their needs (enough so that they do not create spill-over off-site parking).  Nearby residents should not have to pay the penalty for faulty planning!  Especially when the problems are predictable and solutions that work are well known.

Someday, when personal cars are banned, or when autonomous cars no longer need to park, those wastelands of asphalt can be developed - but we are not there yet.  For now, we still need places to put our cars.  And hey - a lot of us still want to drive!  (How many planners drove to work today?)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

What happened in 1871?

The Weather!  

Here are a couple of climate-oriented websites you might want to visit:
Climate Depot,  Real Science and Cfact.   They each have different content, but are similar in focus and intent.  The granddaddy of them climate change science is still "Watts up with that?"

This blog post is fun.  How long have humans been looking to the heavens, wringing their hands, praying for a favorable climate?  Religious rites, superstitions, and cursing have not had an effect on the weather.  Weather disasters have been blamed on the Earth's cooling, and then warming, and then failing to prove either, the initiated just call it "climate change" or "climate disruption".  Hard to argue with that.

Real Science
"Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts."  --  Richard Feynman 

According to the IPCC, temperatures were cold in 1871, sea level was much lower, and the climate was much more stable. All of this utter nonsense – nothing more than well financed superstition. The same mindless superstition which infected academics in 1871.

The [animated] gif below compares 1871 sea level in La Jolla, California vs. a recent high tide picture. There have been no change.

Florida was hit by two hurricanes within two weeks in August, 1871 – including a major hurricane. It has now been eight years since Florida was hit by any hurricane, and since the US was hit by a major hurricane.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

City wants symmetrical view corridors

Asymmetry is out, Symmetry is in, 
but only if you are facing south.  

That's basically the argument the city planning department came up with as a reason to deny a tree-cutting permit to allow a new home to be built.

A couple appealed this decision to the DRC so they could build their new home closer to the street. In this way it would conform to other new homes on the block and in the neighborhood, allow a reasonably-sized back yard, and take out a tree that is not particularly healthy or beautiful and replace it with another one that is.  The old walnut tree is, however, old, and big.

But being an old and big tree was not the reason the planner gave for preserving the tree.  It was because - if one was standing at the north end of the block looking south, it would alter the symmetry of the tree crown at the other end of the block.  What???  Symmetry is now a criterion for tree-cutting permits?

If one stands at the south end of the block by the disputed tree and looked north, they would find the block to be quite barren - the only tall tree crowns visible are probably from Tryon Creek Park.  Perhaps the northern neighbors should be required to plant tall trees to conform with neighbors' and planners' desire for canopy density in the city rather than pick on one old tree.

Thankfully, the Development Review Commission decided that the city's claim that cutting the tree would be a "significant negative impact" on the neighborhood was not justified and overturned staff's wholly discretionary (illogical) decision.  The sorry part of the DRC meeting last night was the painful discussion about now to keep this tree, and not on why anyone should be required to keep an unhealthy one.  What should have taken 10 minutes took 1-1/2 hours, but still 2 of the 8 commissioners voted no.

A quick note to the planning department:  Don't send out documents with contradicting information.  In two places - one being the cover page - the lot is refered to as being in a R-7.5 zone.  In another spot, there is reference to a R-6 zone.  It is not in the First Addition-Evergreen Neighborhood, these 2 neighborhoods divide at A Ave.  You have zoning maps - look it up.  (R-6 is the correct zone.)

This kind of simple blunder and the silliness of maintaining a "symmetrical" view corridor - in a discretionary decision - does not speak well of of the planning staff.  If this is how they use their extreme power over peoples' lives and fortunes, just about anything could happen on any application, depending on the preferences and asesthetic sensibilities of the planners that day.

Selling it with pictures:

Left photo from staffreport shows walnut tree as part of visible tree crown. Right photo is from further away and shows cedar tree on property as dominant tree on the horizon.  Both images from Google Street Maps.

Left imageBis from report. Right image shows tree in context with dominant cedar in foreground. 

Government-caused inequality

Government CAUSES, does not solve, housing affordability

This is just in from our favorite planning website, The Antiplanner, "Dedicated to the sunset of all government planning"

"Last week, economists at the Fermanian Business & Economic Institute released a report estimating that government regulation increase San Diego housing prices–for both buyers and renters–by an average of about 40 percent."
  Do you really want to know why young families do not settle in Lake Oswego?  Dig deep and you will find government regulations driving up the price of housing.  All levels of government look to real estate for their largest revenue streams.  But the bulk of the huge cost of housing today is because government is starving the market of land to build homes on.  High SDCs also push up the cost of all available housing, not just new homes.

Soon, all the (relatively) inexpensive housing

will be torn down and replaced by more expensive stock,  Those who can't keep up with the rising price of houses will be consigned to multifamily housing whether or not they prefer it.  Government is creating, not solving the issue of the middle class.  Government is creating cities of haves and have-nots.  Are micro-living and shanty towns in our future?  

"Yet, the report notes, a significant portion of that land “is geographically suitable for development.”

The article continues with relevant statistics related to housing affordability that are available for the Portland market also.  The Antiplanner concludes with:

"In any case, it is clear that regulation is the cause of most if not all of the unaffordability in San Diego and most other California urban areas. Maybe this report will persuade local politicians that the housing needs of low-income people outweigh the open-space* desires of the upper classes."

* open-space, as used here, refers to land beyond the urban growth boundary.

Another motivation for keeping land so expensive is the power and control it gives to the bureaucrats to be able to direct how and where people will liive.  

Check out the Antiplanner website for the remainder of this post.