Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Monday, May 18, 2015

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

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