Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Open for business

Remember the movie Braveheart?  The Scots were in a fierce, and losing, battle with England for control of their homeland.  Eventually the larger, more sophisticated and better armed side won, but not without the aid of turncoat Scots,leaving many of those brave hearts slaughtered, and the country without defenses against the invaders.  A very heroic and sad tale.

The Mayor holds a meeting.
At the end of Tuesday night's City Council Meeting, Mayor Studebaker announced that he was meeting with builders to see if they were happy with our building codes.  I compared that to asking a glutton if they had had enough food.  In either case, the answer is predictable, so why ask?  Unless the Mayor wants the city to be even more conciliatory to developers, he ought to be asking his constituents if they are happy with the development codes.  But in a way he has.

The question arises, how does today's meeting fit with the Mayor's pre-election comments about how sad he was that his children and theirs would not know the same freedoms their predecessors had.  USC and others thought he got it - about outside control and developer interests changing our small town, and that he wanted to preserve our way of life as the city evolves.  

Studebaker also lamented that our city had the reputation of being a difficult place to do business in, and he wanted ours to be business-friendly.  Who was telling him things were more difficult in LO?  And isn't the same complaint heard by the business community in every city, town and hamlet?  Sometimes it's right - like when codes and fees are not uniformly applied.  But usually business interests ask for fewer restrictions and less public involvement in how they conduct their business - and this happens more when larger developers and out-of-town businesses become involved.

Who is the Mayor trying to please?  Who should he be working for?  People have a right to do business in our city, but only on our terms.  The city can't act like we are open for business without restrictions when they exclude certain types of businesses such as big-box retailers and heavy industrial.  But someone, somewhere has decided that large-scale, transit-oriented, dense, mixed-use development should be encouraged.  It is a not-so-secret truth that the Central Planners at all levels are in control of our cities, and that citizens and local officials will have little influence unless they are particularly savvy about current land use philosophy, theory and code practices.  The city works for outsiders, not locals.  For the truth about how this affects downtown, read Phil Chizum's commentary in last week's LO Review.

Whose city is this?

City Councilor resigns , cites over-development as one reason to move out of Lake Oswego.  The city is killing what makes it unique and what draws people here in the first place.  How many planners live in the city?  How many think suburbs and LO-density development is  a bad thing?  How many in planning, engineering and administration respect this city, it's inhabitants and its lifestyle, and consider them worthy of preservation as unique in character and aspect?   Karen Bowerman is not alone in her decision to move on.  Lake Oswego will continue to lose its most valued citizens - the people who are in the forefront of fighting for preservation of our city's character.  Is there hope for change, or will this battle end with the Bravehearts being destroyed?

How about it Kent?
Whose city is this?

1 comment:

  1. Right on USC! Hit the nail right on the head and drove it home. The Mayor has become a "tool" to be used by the City Manager and staff to accomplish what they want. Remember the Planning Commission meeting where staff told the PC that developers want the ability to put more houses on one lot? At the developer meeting, the Mayor will hear that. Then the Mayor needs to meet with citizens say from the First Addition where it is proposed.
    Has the Mayor forgotten how the citizens in the Halinan neighborhood felt about what that developer did?