(This meeting was last week - text below has been edited to reflect this.)
East End Redevelopment
On Wednesday, September 30, a community meeting WAS held by the Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency to help the Agency prioritize future redevelopment projects for downtown Lake Oswego. Join us from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Lake Oswego Council Chambers in City Hall, 380 A Ave.
Over the past 20 years, public and private projects in the East End Redevelopment Plan have transformed portions of downtown Lake Oswego into a vibrant and attractive place for both shopping and dining. Urban renewal projects have also created unique gathering spaces for outdoor community events and activities like the Saturday Farmers’ Market and concerts all summer long.
Why does Lake Oswego even have an Urban Renewal District downtown anymore?
If Downtown LO is now a "vibrant and attractive place for both shopping and dining," what more help does the district need to give it a boost out of blight into a place private developers and businesses will want to invest in?
I think the key here is the word "transform." Government is not finished with its transformation of our city. It's not about blight anymore, or even higher property taxes for the city (the higher taxes all go back to the District); urban renewal these days is about funding density and growth. Keeping redevelopment going with new projects is also job security for bureaucrats and a windfall for property owners and developers.
When the city makes decisions about which properties will be part of the plan, when they select project proposals and choose developers and make financial grants to them, they participate in crony capitalism. What developer in his or her right mind would invest in new buildings anymore without a government subsidy?
One way for the Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency (LORA) aka City Council to get public buy-in for more urban renewal spending is to ask them to play Sim City with them. How can anyone - citizens, council member or city staff - give up that rush of feeling like they can control the city's future? The power of government and easy money is a seductive and addictive combination. Don't expect anyone to give that up easily.