Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Friday, August 7, 2015

Court of Appeals right but not just

How can something right, be so wrong?  

"Right" is defined by what is legal and what is morally just.  A legal argument may win, but people know when something is wrong by the sour taste it leaves in their mouths.

The Oregon Court of Appeals denied the Save Our Village and Evergreen Neighblrhood Association appeal of the LUBA decision which affirmed the city approval of the Wizer Block development.  By relying on only one aspect of the code, Evergreen Group (Patrick Kessi and investors) was able to sidestep the East End Redevelopment village character policy and scale back their monster development.  Policies and intent matter.  Or they should.

 (Or is there one last gasp?)  

The small village was threatened by the big
metropolis in the next county.  Smalltown USA was being overrun by financiers from the big city - one in particular - who saw their green pastures and cozy town center as a great place to build their next block of apartments, opening the door to more intensive development in the future.  The townsfolk wouldn't know what hit them.  And once it was built, it would be too late.

When this project was finished, the bloom would be gone from this small, quaint town, and crass commercialization could continue without the pretense of the developer pretending to care, and without the citizen resistance this one attracted, and the rest would be easy money!   

The Townsfolk hired a defender and they pinned their hopes on him.  Could he do the job against such a rich and powerful foe?  The villagers' homes and lives were at stake, so they all pitched in to help pay the little they could to fund the fight. 

The battle began. It was long, it was bloody, and it tore the town apart.  Each side had much to lose - the Investors had a lot of money at stake, and the Townsfolk their homes and lives.

Back and forth the battle went. Great damage was done on both sides.  Many people would lose the investment in their homes, and some fled town to avoid what they knew was coming.  This was a sad time for Smalltown, but no one except those who were being hurt seemed to care. What was morally just and what was legally right were on divergent paths.

The Battle of the Court of Appeals dealt a deadly blow to the Villagers.  The people's arguments were strong, but the High Court Judges did not deign to explain their decision.  As the bulldozers drew closer to the project site, the People wondered, was it over?
But now another fight was beginning.  At the Smalltown Farmers' Market, the Investors were going to be celebrating their victory with a booth where they would hand out trinkets to villagers, trying to cement their place in the town they had invaded - make it seem like they belonged, and that their monster project was no big deal.  Tee-shirts anyone?  How about a mug?

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