Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Friday, July 31, 2015

Optimism in an Age of Pessimism

After centuries of world expansion in exploration, knowledge and technology, the 20th century brought the realization that the world may have limits and that man is capable of previously unimaginable destruction.  The pervasive angst that has taken hold in America and throughout the world does not take into account the positive and hopeful signs of progress that may redeem us.  Y concentrating on the doom and gloom, we are missing the bigger picture - that of optimism in a bright future defined by technological advances and demographic changes.  Pope Francis' message might better be, "Go forth and invent!"

Read complete book review in the Wall Street Journal.

Great facts and information on claims of environmental doom! 

Wall Street Journal  July 23, 2015 
BOOKSHELF Nigel Lawson

The End of Doom: Environmantal Renewal in the Twenty-first Century
By Ronald Bailey

Good News for Pope Francis and Other Environmental Pessimists
Despite an explosion in population greater than Malthus could have imagined, global living standards are higher than ever.

We live in an age of all-per­va­sive cul­tural pes­simism. In one sense, this is un­der­stand­able. The 18th cen­tury, the Age of En­light­en­ment, pro­duced an ex­plo­sion of sci­en­tific dis­cov­ery as men’s minds escaped from the shack­les of sub­servience to au­thor­ity, both po­lit­i­cal and ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal. The 19th cen­tury was the great age of op­ti­mism, as tech­no­log­i­cal de­vel­opment ex­ploited the achieve­ments of sci­ence, bring­ing in­ven­tions like the lo­co­mo­tive, the elec­tric light and the tele­phone.

That op­ti­mism dis­si­pated in the 20th cen­tury, when two dis­as­trous world wars ex­posed the dark side of mankind. Far from re­cov­er­ing a sense of hope­ful­ness dur­ing the rel­ative peace of the 21st cen­tury, gloominess has be­come the de­fault po­si­tion of the in­tel­lec­tual classes in the Western world. As Pope Fran­cis’ re­cent en­cycli­cal, “Laudato Si’,” puts it: “We may be leav­ing to com­ing gen­er­a­tions de­bris, des­o­la­tion and filth.”

Ronald Bai­ley begs to dif­fer. As his book demon­strates, a care­ful ex­am­ina­tion of the ev­i­dence shows that, at least in ma­te­r­ial terms (which is not unim­por­tant, par­tic­u­larly for the world’s poor), life is getting bet­ter. The over­rid­ing rea­son for this, accord­ing to Mr. Bai­ley, is con­tin­u­ing tech­no­log­i­cal progress, fa­cil­i­tated—and this is cru­cial—by the global triumph of mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism.

Among the scares ex­am­ined by Mr. Bai­ley in “The End of Doom: En­vi­ronmen­tal Re­newal in the Twenty-First Cen­tury” are over­pop­u­la­tion, the exhaus­tion of nat­ural re­sources (par­ticu­larly oil), the per­ils of biotech­nol­ogy and ge­netic mod­i­fi­ca­tion, and global warm­ing.

Mr. Bai­ley has lit­tle dif­fi­culty demon­strat­ing that, de­spite an ex­plosion in world pop­u­la­tion greater than Thomas Malthus could pos­si­bly have en­vis­aged in the 18th cen­tury, global liv­ing stan­dards are higher than ever. “Food,” he writes, cit­ing sta­tistics from the World Bank and other or­gani­za­tions, “is more abun­dant to­day than ever be­fore in his­tory.” In the past 50 years alone, global food produc­tion has more than tripled.

It is also more than likely, in the opin­ion of most de­mog­ra­phers, that world pop­u­la­tion will peak in the rel­atively near fu­ture and then start to de­cline. Mr. Bai­ley at­trib­utes this to the re­lated phe­nom­ena of grow­ing per­sonal wealth in the de­vel­op­ing world and the ad­vance of ed­u­ca­tion, par­tic­u­larly for girls, in those countries. He un­der­plays, I sus­pect, another fac­tor: Per­haps the most striking as­pect of global de­vel­op­ment is the dra­matic mi­gra­tion of pop­u­la­tion from the coun­try to the city. Of course, this pop­u­la­tion move­ment is ex­cel­lent news for wildlife and bio­diver­sity.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Demolition derby

It's a race to destroy our present and our past 

And the future doesn't look very bright either

This website intrigues and depresses me.  Portland Chronicle charts the demolition of houses in Multnomah County.  They have been extremely busy this year.  Below are maps of demolitions in Portland in 2015 to date, and all of 2014.  From the website you can zoom in to see exact locations.  From the menu you can select the list of demolitions and count them.  I did not take the time to do this - the list was too long.

What would such a list look like for Lake Oswego?  How many tear-downs are there per acre (not counting lakes or rivers) in each city?   It would be an interesting comparison, but it is distressing no matter which city you live in.  

The way things are

Tear-downs are happening everywhere - single family residential neighborhoods fare the worst.  The character of neighborhoods is being torn apart and livibility is going down.  The bloom is definitely off the rose in the Rose City.  The same can be said about communities all over the Metro area, and in no small part due to METRO's interference in municipal affairs and regulatory overreach.

The article below cites a recent home in Sellwood being sold and scheduled for tear down.  The images here are all homes that are or will be torn down in the Sellwood neighborhood taken from the link below. The connection to our past and our small town /close neighborhood identities and way of life is disappearing.  I don't know about you, but the replacement dwellings don't justify the destruction that is occurring.

Fed-up renters assemble to strike back

Portlanders form group to address rising housing costs. 

Portland Tribune, July 28, 2015  by Max Denning

Joe Clement had been renting a room in a large home in Sellwood for two years. 
A desirable part of town.

The 28-year-old gardened, did his own repairs, and took care of the house with his fellow renters in between volunteering at KBOO and working for the Multnomah County Central Library.
It does not sound like Joe has a full time job that gives him the money for the lifestyle he wants, but he wants and deserves it anyway.  Maybe he could have purchased the house himself.  

“A lot of our time, energy and emotion went into that house,” Clement says.
Maybe Joe should have been out working instead.  Landlords like their tenants to take some pride and "ownership" in their homes, but not feel like they own them.  Perhaps Joe is too emotional about having to move?  It can be traumatic if it wasn't one's choice, but it happens. 

One day in May 2013, he was notified that the home would be sold to a developer who planned to raze it and split the lot in four.

Blame the city for codes that allow small lots. When people don't want the headaches of being a landlord anymore, they need to get the best price for their investment to pay the huge tax bill that awaits them when they sell. Does Joe think the landlord pockets all his equity?  

He wrote letters to the city and went to
neighborhood association meetings, but to no avail. “The common reaction: ‘Well, you’re just a renter, and that’s the way it goes,’” Clement says. “That was very traumatic, feeling like you didn’t deserve to live where you live — you were just a renter.”
Renting a space gives the renter some of the powers of home ownership such as exclusive access, but does not transfer or imply ownership to the tenant.  Leases are contracts - each party agrees to the terms in the contract.  Joe should have read his contract.  

In Clement’s ideal world, rent would not be “something that goes to private persons’ profit,” he says. He wishes rent were “a function of how we provide housing rather than a business opportunity that someone gets to profit off of.”
"Gets to profit off of?"  Without profit, why would anyone own housing to rent to Joe and his friends?  Here's a tip Joe - rents are cheaper in less desirable parts of town.  

“I think we should stop talking about rent as a business and start talking about housing as a human right,” Clement told the crowd at Colonel Summers Park, prompting the loudest applause of the night.
I haven't heard of food equity yet.   Have you seen the price of steak recently?  Food is a necessity, so why should the grocer be entitled to make a profit?

“The reason there is not more talk about housing justice is because these people feel alienated,” she says. “These assemblies are really a way for people to be focused on their collective consciousness. With that, we can maybe enact some real change.”
"Collective" is communism, a system in which the state owns the means of production, and all people are treated the same.  If this is Joe's idea of heaven, perhaps a commune or a communist regime would be a better match, but the housing and other goods might not be the same nor even affordable.

Joe makes it too easy to stomp on his hipster/socialist/communist beliefs.  I would say that I hope the best for Joe, but the truth is that I believe he and others in his group need more education in basic economics before it would do him any good.  He will most likely stay a victim of "the way it is" for the better part of his life.  My time, energy and emotion are better spent on people who are trying hard to make it in the
real world.  

Monday, July 27, 2015

RealIty-based downtown village character

When the Wizer block is built, anyone with any sense knows what we will have lost.  The village character that we know and love will be gone.  Greed begat urban renewal, and Urban Renewal is killing downtown Lake Oswego.  Urban renewal is like the Midas Touch, turning Lake Oswego into a dead zone.  The transformation accelerated when major amendments were made to the Downtown Redevelopment Plan in 2004, when Judie Hammerstad took office.

No village character will be left downtown, and no real signs of life except that which are kept alive with transfusions of fresh, urban renewal debt - tax increment funding that outs the financing burden on you and me.

Here's a town that has kept its charm and continues to draw locals and visitors alike.  Every Thursday evening the Main Street in town is turned into a Farmers' Market with food and music.  In order not to be left out, local restaurants and shops not on the street set up tents. It's the place to see and be seen.  This town has managed the evolution of its downtown carefully in order to keep what it values most.  This is San luis Obispo, California, pop. 46,362, home to California Polytechnic University.  I hope to bring you more such examples in the future.  Let me know of any I should be looking at. imslohappy.wordpress.com/tag/downtown-slo

We're SLO Happy! 
A deeper look into the happiest city in America 
October 11, 2011

Downtown SLO: Modern languages and literatures sophomore Emma Horowitz said downtown showcases perfectly what makes San Luis Obispo so special.

“It’s local, and it’s cute, but it’s still modern and fun,” she said. “It’s where the college community and the rest of the community comes together, which is really great.”

Emma said she loves that everything comes together downtown – the old and the new, the college kids and the families.  

It offers a real taste of the town, in just a few blocks,” she said.

San luis Obispo Downtown Association

The City ofnSan Luis Obispo won the Great American Main Street Award in 1999, given by the National Trust for Histroic Preservation for preservation-based downtown revivals.

In this map of the downtown commercial area, you can see that there are no buildings that consume an entire city block, and that most blocks have multiple shops of varying sizes and ages, giving the street more interest and life.
authentic, historical, unique, sense of past, locally-based, livable

Downtown Connection
"Downtown Survival"
...the central cores of towns must offer their own unique attributes - a sense of place, of history and of meaning.
Preserving a sense of the past has always been a critical strategy to downtown revival.
Retail is the key to recovery.

In a related strategy, downtown must also try to keep the downtown shopping central business disrict as authentic as possible. This type of “urban authenticity” is often reflected by the presence of individual, locally based merchants – many of whom sell products and services that are different, or at least delivered in a different manner, than ubiquitous chains found in prototypical suburban communities. 

"Without retailing, the commercial role of the center or Main Street will have been repealed. A library, concert hall or art museum can lure visitors on special occasions, but only the marketplace can create a true permanent central place. Ultimately, a revived center city will have to combine both this community sense and a sense of uniqueness with a strong, market-driven commercial appeal.” 

To help them survive in the next century, Kotkin offers the following “reality-based” guidelines for downtowns.

  1. Emphasize qualitative over quantitative values. Downtowns don't need to experience a rapid growth in population in order to be successful.  Instead, slowing or even reducing population can provide the basis for creating a more livable town.
  2. Concentrate on appropriate niches.
  3. Nurture the Grassroots economy.
Cities should also strive toman gain a strong presence of specialized industrial, warehousing and other blue-collar industries in addition to focusing on post-industrial sectors such as the service industry.  ...overall industrial workers remain half as likely to earn incomes below the poverty line than their service counterparts.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

How long do you wait for a prediction to come true?

The New York Times article and video tell the story of the 1960's threat of horrendous over-population that would outstrip the carrying capacity of the earth.   Anyone who was alive during the
                                                                                    time heard of , or read, The Population Bomb,
by Paul Ehrlich that foretold a dystopian future of famines and civil unrest with increasing population, and preached coersive means to reduce human numbers if voluntary  methods didn't work.  (He still does.) As the article explains, there were movies, music and organizations that grew out of, and playeid into this fear, or zeitgeist.
Zero Population Growth (ZPG) was in full swing, urging young couples to have no more than two children - one child to replace each adult.  It became the moral thing to do.  To save the earth, one must have no children, only one, or two at most.  Unlike previous generations, families with more than three children were rare, and four children or more was frowned upon.  Women in India and China faced forced sterilization, and there was a real fear that that could happen here.  ZPG's message was powerful.

Of course, readers of a certain age know all of this.  Still, for all of you, even the older ones among us, the NYT video, The Population Bomb? (see below) is important to watch, and at only 13 minutes, it won't take much of your time.

The surprising thing for me was that the world population has doubled since 1969 - the year I graduated from high school.  (My copy of The Population Bomb could be worth a few bucks today!). I see and feel the squeeze and wish it weren't so.  But the Baby Boom, the largest generational bump in world history, begat the Echo Boom, and both generations are on the planet at one time.  World population is predicted to peak in about 2040 to 2050, from 7B today to 9B, but some people continue to think, or fear, that population growth will be a continuous upward trend.

The video and article, The Unrealized Horrors of Population Explosion, reminds me of our current zeitgeist - an overwhelming fear of climte change.  The parallels are astounding, and coming out of the Baby Boom generation where the earth was in peril from too many people, it is natural that this feeling would take off in a different direction, with the earth still in imminent peril.  Humans pass down their fears and the cycle continues.  Unfortunately, the optimism that came from expanding technological prowess and the Green Revolution does not seem to exist now.  Fear tends to be a more dominant human emotion.

This is not to say that all fears of environmental damage aren't real, only that there is exaggerated hype which leads to unfounded claims and coercive practices.  An example of zeitgeist in Wikipedia:
  • Failure to question research findings that agree with prevailing political and philosophical ideology represents one of the effects of the zeitgeist.
The Zeitgeist (spirit of the age or spirit of the time) is the intellectual fashion or dominant school of thought that typifies and influences the culture of a particular period in time.  

This is an important video to watch and share, along with the accompanying article.   The Unrealized Horrors of Population Explosion
New York Times Retro Report, May 31, 2015  by Clyde Haberman

Video:  The Polulation Bomb?
12.56 min. Video of footage from the 60's and today, tracing the arc of the 60's threat of over-population.  Use the link above.  Video is also on Youtube.


At first I thought the modern glass and steel building was behind the church.  When I figured out it wasn't...

If you are into architecture, this website has some doozies.

James Howard Kunstler:
Featured Eyesore of the Month
July 2015

Behold the condo renovation of the Holy Trinity German Church and Rectory in Boston’s South End designed by Finegold Alexander & Associates for developer New Boston Ventures. It was approved a few weeks ago by the Boston redevelopment agency.   

Granted, the task does raise the question: just how do you cram 33 condo units to a structure built for an entirely different sort of human activity. But the result appears to be a church with an  insecticide factory grafted onto the roof.  

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Trees + heat = fire

Water + lawns = safety

California's drought is keeping lawns and grasslands brown and dry this year - ripe for wild fires that can easily spread into urban areas.

Oregon is not far behind.  Our drought is making the landscape dry and fire hazards high.  The defensive zone around houses is their green lawns and landscaping.  With enough water, the lawns can play an important part in reducing urban wildfires.

Lake Oswego has a couple of additional problems.  We have an extra heavy tree canopy at 49% for urban areas, and tree crowns at close proximity to one another.  Tree removal for thinning purposes is not encouraged, even though it increases the health of trees.

Lake Oswego water is expensive.  Keeping lawns (and landscaping) green in hot, dry weather requires lots of water.  In droughts and hot, dry weather, the rivers run low, reducing the supply of water.

Where will the water come from and who will pay to keep this city safe from summer fires?  
Will trees or the safety of lives and property take priority?   

Vancouver officials encourage lawn watering to prevent fires

Don't bring your cars to town

Live, work, and shop where life is easier.  Don't let Metro screw up the suburbs!  
  1. The city creates parking problems by not requiring, or even allowing, developers  to supply adequate parking.
  2. Parking is scarce and expensive.
  3. Citizens are angry. 
  4. Central Planners are thrilled.  By establishing maximum parking codes, they have created a planned parking shortage to discourage cars in the city.  
This is not just Portland's problem - Lake Grove is working on a parking plan now to resolve a problem that is largely the City's fault by not requiring enough parking for new developments, and the Wizer Block will usher in a new demand for on-street parking not seen in downtown.  The new concept in parking management planning is to make parking pricing demand driven like airline pricing.  If you have to do errands or work at peak times - it will cost you dearly.

As much as planners might want it to be true, people don't get rid of their cars when parking is tough - they will either find another place to live or shop, or they will park in local neighborhoods, bringing the problems there too.  There's a term for the animosity toward automobiles, it's
Smart Growth
Smart Growth advocates don't like cars - they take up real estate.  
Hey planners, in the real world, we don't all ride bikes or use transit.  Get used to it.

Readers' Letters:  City could be charging you twice to park
Portland Tribune, July 16, 2015  

In Oregon, the majority of funding for streets and roads — curb to curb — comes from motorist-paid gas taxes (Parking getting scarce, costly, July 2). Local on-street parking in the curb zone now is being called a separated commodity by the Portland Bureau of Transportation, possibly with an additional price attached that would charge motorists for something twice.
If a portion of that same commodity space is exclusively being used to accommodate another use — specifically alternative-mode vehicles such as bicycles, buses or the streetcar — then equity requires that the users of these alternative modes also must pay their share for what is being consumed. Anything less would be unjust and reflects a form of discriminatory bias toward the automobile.
Terry Parker
Northeast Portland

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Rick Williams shows where bike lockers in the Lloyd District have helped reduce car commutes.
Parking getting scarce, costly

A little more than a month ago Seattle-based developer Footprint began leasing 200-square-foot micro apartments a few doors down from Freeman’s store, in the new permit zone. Footprint’s Thurman building does not include parking for residents of its 54 apartments. But the developers said their model, already tested in Seattle, would add very few cars to the street. Renters would be young, and public transit is nearby. In fact, the developers predicted only about seven of the tenants would own cars.
Lisa Freeman bought a $60 parking permit anyway. And waited. She says the first week Footprint started renting she began seeing new cars with out-of-state plates in the few all-day spaces on Thurman. No way there are only seven cars coming from the new apartment building, she says.
“It’s been hellish,” Freeman says. “I paid for a parking permit, and there are no spots.” And Freeman’s not only talking about parking for her car when she arrives at work in the morning. She needs parking for her customers.
Parking may be unpredictable, but that hasn’t stopped the folks at PBOT from trying to engineer us into the future. This week parking visionaries from up and down the West Coast came to Portland for a parking symposium. They spoke about innovations taking place in other cities, and as a group are pretty unified about what the future of Portland parking will look like.
In Seattle and San Francisco, $1 an hour meters incentivize drivers to park on streets that have an abundance of open spaces, while meters on streets where parking is rarely available charge drivers up to $4 an hour. Variable rate parking already has come to Portland, by the way. Ever notice that during Timbers games meters around Providence Park charge $3.50 an hour instead of the standard $1.60 an hour? Those spots get snapped up quickly anyway, parking officials say. Expect many more parking meters with rates based on supply and demand in the future.
In fact, you can expect in the future to be paying just about any time you park your car, says local parking consultant Rick Williams. Parking spaces slowly, but surely have become recognized as a commodity which cities can manipulate in all sorts of ways.

Bike Europe

...and (try to) bring Europe back to Portland.
With little understanding of how history, culture, geography and economics play into transportation choices, Portland planners are determined to adopt a European bike and train model, whether we like it or not, and whether it works here or not.  Portland WILL be Copenhagen in America!

Remember, this is Leah Treat's (bike) transportation department.  The trip was funded by a group out of  Boulder called, PeopleForBikes, to further a multimodal transportation study funded by Metro.  Symbiotic relationships all around.

Did someone forget to ask the citizens of Portland what they want?  Oops.  Where is there room in the Portland/Metro bike love-fest for other voices?

Portland delegates' wheels turning after Copenhagen trip
Portland Tribune, July 9, 2015  By Jennifer Anderson

Future of downtown may top Danish design, infrastructure

Pearce, PBOT Director Leah Treat and the rest of the 10-person delegation spent the last week in June touring three Danish cities by bike on a study tour hosted by Green Lane Project, a program of the Boulder, Colo.-based nonprofit PeopleForBikes, which helps cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.

USC Note: Portland has the largest number of bike commuters (6%) among the nations LARGEST cities.  There are many cities (Eugene, Davis, etc.) with much higher percentages.  Perhaps Leah should figure out what the difference is between Portland (a large city) and Davis (a small city) before she takes off to Europe.  There are American examples of bike towns that will give bike advocates a lesson and show how the US differs from Europe.  

The geography of spending

What People Buy Where
New York Times Sunday Review, Opinion, December 12. 2014
By Elizabeth Currid-Halkitt

CONSPICUOUS consumption is everywhere, but it’s not the same everywhere. People living in certain cities spend far more than the national average on particular goods and services that they believe will enhance their social standing.   

How your city influences your spending



One nation, or eleven?

Do people bring with them the cultural attitudes of their old cultures when they migrate from one nation to another, or do they adopt the culture and attitudes of the new one?  Has Oregon changed with the in-migration of people from mainly California in the last 30+ years and again with young immigrants from all over the United States in the last decade?

It seems that growing up in Portland, prior to the 1970s, it was defined by a mixture of New England Puritanism from Boston, and rugged individualism and self-reliance from early pioneers.  This culture seems to be long gone, or declining along with an aging generation.  Are immigrants assimilating, or do they change their new home to be more like their past?  How has Oregon changed?
What do you think?

Which of the 11 American nations do you live in? 
Washington Post, November 8, 2013  By Reid Wilson

Red states and blue states? Flyover country and the coasts? How simplistic. Colin Woodard, a reporter at the Portland Press Herald and author of several books, says North America can be broken neatly into 11 separate nation-states, where dominant cultures explain our voting behaviors and attitudes toward everything from social issues to the role of government.

Up in Arms
Tufts University Press, by Colin Woodard

There’s never been an America, but rather several Americas—each a distinct nation. There are eleven nations today. Each looks at violence, as well as everything else, in its own way. - See more at: http://www.tufts.edu/alumni/magazine/fall2013/features/up-in-arms.html#.dpuf

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Cut or save giant sequoias

As in Lake Oswego, Portland appears to have two tree codes: a liberal one for builders, and a strict one for homeowners.  Money talks.

Portland talks green, but ignores the value of trees (OPINION)
Oregonlive.coml July 18, 2015.
Guest Columnist, Robert McCullough

As a community activist, I am often asked how the city's policies have drifted so far from our basic values. I have pondered the question and do not have an answer. One neighbor has coined the phrase "green wash" to describe Portland's curious environmental record — we talk "green" but city policy is more likely found to be grayish black.

Neighbors in southeast are currently engaged
in a desperate attempt to save a stand of heritage trees — giant sequoias that have dominated the vista near Reed College for the past 150 years. In doing so, they only have one tool — greenmail — to buy the property back from a developer who had planned to clear-cut the site. Appeals to the city went unanswered. The city's tree code — requiring experts and lawyers to interpret — is basically impotent where developers are concerned. The responsible city commissioner did not answer calls, letters or emails. This is wrong, both politically and scientifically. 

Let's actually address the science. Nature, one of the world's most prestigious scientific journals, recently published a peer-reviewed article entitled "Neighborhood greenspace and health in a large urban center." The scientists included those from the University of Chicago, Indiana University, the University of Toronto and other major institutions. Their conclusions are striking: "We find that having 10 more trees in a city block, on average, improves health perception in ways comparable to an increase in annual personal income of $10,000 and moving to a neighborhood with $10,000 higher median income or being 7 years younger. We also find that having 11 more trees in a city block, on average, decreases cardio-metabolic conditions in ways comparable to an increase in annual personal income of $20,000 and moving to a neighborhood with $20,000 higher median income or being 1.4 years younger."

In my day job, I am considered to be an expert in statistical studies, si I reviewed their methodology carefully.  They based their statistical results on a detailed data set from
Toronto, Canada.  Their significance, a statistical measure indicating the quality of the result, is excellent.  This is not a tree-hugger's manifesto, but an actual example of hard science applied to an emerging urban issue.

Most measures that add to health and economic well-being are difficult to adore.  This is not one of them.  We are actually paying dollars to clear-cut Portland neighborhoods.  If we stop, we get to keep those dollars and improve the health and welfare in Portland.

Perhaps it is time to turn back the clock a lot to when Portland's values represented environmentalism and land-use planning.  I think we need many more trees and fewer bulldozers.

Robert McCullough is president of a Uplift, and Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association

Monday, July 20, 2015

Just make it stop

Somehow it doesn't feel any better that we are not alone in Lake Oswego.  How did Central Planners become more important than the citizens who pay their salaries?

Election highlights conflict between urban and suburban values
Citizen's View by Rebecca Adams

Favorite quote:  "According to this system (New Urbanism Planning), our existing codes and laws are regulatory barriers which must be changed."

Multnomah neighbors debate proposed development 
The Southwest Community Connection, July 1, 2015  By Kelsey O'Halloran

While some favor the four-story apartment and retail complex, others say it doesn't fit

Favorite quote:  "What we have here is unique, and it's worth something," [Bernie] Bonn says.  The development, she added, "would be the beginning of most of the Village being redeveloped to be something very different than what it is now."

Arch Bridge development rears its head again
West Linn Tidings, July 16, 2015
Readers' Letters  Written By Bob Muehe, West Linn

Favorite quote:  The staff at City Hall proposes to change our codes to fit this [Arch Bridge] plan.  Doing that might fulfill their ambitions, but it spits in the face of the Weat Linn citizens who deserve better alternatives.

Got those bets in?

Better hurry on your office pool - the "will he or won't he" bet about Kessi starting demolition of the Wizer building before all legal challenges are done - things are heating up!

You might want to change that bet a bit or start another one.  It appears Kessi's group already has permits to remove trees from the site, though I hope not the Japanese maple tree on the corner of 1st and A Ave.  Will the tile murals be saved too?  They also have permits for demolition, excavation, and construction of the new buildings.  ( Go to Oregon e-permitting search - enter address of property to see permits)

There is another wrinkle to Kessi's plans besides the court appeal - the tree removal permit expires September 1, one month shy of the expiration date of the Glass Butterfly's lease.  Tree cutting and other demolition work on site would disrupt business at the store which could bring legal action of its own.  What would Gene do?

Will he or won't he (Kessi) disturb the "quiet enjoyment" of the leaseholder and his right to conduct business?   (Show your support for the last local business on the block and shop there before the whole building is gone.)

Will he or won't he defy the courts if they ultimately rule against the development by having the construction already underway?

Will 2 years of construction, or the final development on the Wizer block destroy existing businesses downtown, more than it has already?

I understand the eagerness of the Evergreen Group investors to begin their project while interest rates are favorable. In their rush to build, they should not crush the legal rights of a local businessman, nor defy the courts if they lose an appeal of their project.  My hope is that time and money will not be in their favor, and that our town can be spared.  Lake Oswego is worth more than the money these unknown investors are betting on.

There are a lot of ways to play your bets on this project, but better get it done quickly!  Things are moving fast - just as Kessi warned us they would.

What they don't want you to see

This is a story that someone (?) got taken off the Lake Oswego Review website.

Either Lake Oswegans are very delicate and the Review wants to protect them from upsetting news, or someone within City Hall, or some other big-wig doesn't want you reading the story because it's embarrassing.  If you have another explanation for the story's strange disappearance, let's hear it.

Here is the story (excerpts) as it was posted on the Lake Oswego Review website before it was pulled.   You can read the entire article in the Portland Tribune, the Oregon City News, the West Linn Tidings and the Clackamas Review.  Just not here.

Gladstone blasts Lake Oswego's plan to dig a trench across McLoughlin at night
Portland Tribune, July 15, 2015  By Raymond Rendleman

Gladstone's elected officials didn't mince words this week in their displeasure over Lake Oswego's request for another noise varience to construct a pipeline pumping Clackamas River water to
West Linn.

Lake Oswego's construction woes have become notorious among citizens, and it's attempt on July 14 to get permission for nighttime construction near homes was too much for Gladstone councilors who see Lake Oswego's project as having committed another mistake.  A geotechnical analysis that failed to notice boulders in the way of micro tunneling is the latest incident that councilors are now considering a fiasco.

"It quite honestly looks like the Theee Stooges got loose and ran industrial equipment and made one hell of a mess," said Councilor Steve Johnson.  "Since Lake Oswego has invaded our fine city, and I do mean that, it has destroyed a bridge, it has disrespectfully and arrogantly done an end-around of our Planning Commission design review standards for a pump station, it has turned our nice (Meldrum Bar) Park into an industrial work site, and now wants to disrupt our neighbors' sleep for two months and destroy our newly paved McLoughlin Boulevard."

"I also have concerns about trust, huge concerns about trust," Reisner said.  "We'll have to out up with that structure (the LOT pump station) at the end of Portland Avenue for a long time, which is nothing like what you promised."
Now why would the LO Review want to keep us from reading this?  Is the paper independent, or does it take orders from others?  The water project may be a partnership, but the mud is all on Lake Oswego as the project manager.  Arrogant?  The entire water project was conceived and begun in arrogance.  When people talk about "branding" for Lake Oswego, they forget that we already have a "brand" - it's just not a very good one.

USC Note:  Any excavator who has worked in Gladstone can tell you that the ground there is nothing but large boulders.  Old timers in Gladstone could tell the geotechnical pros a thing or two.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Special interests, guilt, and OPM

"I think, myself, that we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.  I believe it might be much simplified to the relief of those who maintain it."
                                                                                   --  Thomas Jefferson

Everyone who asks government to finance their special interests encourages "more machinery of government" at the expense of "the labor of the industrious."  

Should the City Council treat your home as a piggy bank for special interests? 

Is buying wind-powered electricity a necessity for the city of Lake Oswego?  No.  Those who are tempted to say yes no doubt confuse their concern for the survival and health of Lake Oswego with the survival and health of the planet.

Will the cost (machinery) of government increase if Lake Oswego purchases wind power?  Yes.

The Sustainability Advisory Committee said this would cost the city an additional $28k. This money will come out of the general fund with money coming from residents' property taxes.  Could this money be spent on actual necessities like paving, salaries, or building repairs instead?  Yes.   

SAB makes the claim (as printed in the Lake Oswego Review) that the additional cost of wind electricity will go down as more customers use it.  Where is their crystal ball?  Even if the cost of wind power were to drop to equivalent or lower pricing in the future, wouldn't there be a net cost to the city for expenditures made now?  Yes.

Citizens elect a mayor and city council to decide how to spend their money.  Public money is to be spent on behalf of all of the citizens of Lake Oswego.  Will some people be harmed by the city's unnecessary purchase of wind power?  Yes.

Adding any expense to the city budget has the potential to harm those who currently struggle to keep their homes, or would like to decide which good causes they want to support.  If unnecessary expenses were eliminated from the budget, the property tax liability on all citizens could be reduced, or in an inflationary period, taxes would not have to be raised.  Will citizens be harmed by unnecessary spending by the city council?  Yes.

Is $28k a significant amount to spend on unnecessary wind power now and going forward?  Yes.  All public money collected and expended is significant.   What amount is not insignificant?

What are the citizens of Lake Oswego getting for their $28k?   Some people (SAB and 4 members of the City Council) will feel better that they did something positive for the planet (at someone else's expense).   The facts regarding the "good" of wind power were not proven.  Should citizens pay through their property taxes for City Councilors to feel good?  No.

No government will spend its money in a way that satisfies everyone.  But this expense is clearly not
necessary because we are getting the same service (electricity) for a cheaper price now.  The City Council has reacted to the demands of a special interest group instead of putting all of the citizens of Lake Oswego first.  Pandering to special interests is not their job.  It is ego.  If shame exists in City Hall, let this be an example of shameful behavior.

City Councilors voting for the expenditure:  Jackie Manz, Jeff Gudman, Jon Gustafson, Joe Buck (4Js).  Voting No: Mayor Kent Studebaker, Councilors Skip O'Neill, Karen Bowerman.