Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Minority Report

The Ad Hoc Tree Code Committee had a split.  Two-thirds of the committee went in one direction, and seven souls went in another.  After being outvoted again and again, the splinter group decided to write a "Minority Report".

The main Ad Hoc Tree Code Committee is presenting the Draft Tree Code Amendments to the City Council, while the minority group will propose an alternative code that they feel is more in keeping with the Council's wish that the Tree Code be less burdensome for the average citizen.  If approved, the alternative code would be an addition to the regular code, but stand on its own.  It will be enlightening to compare the alternative code alongside the regular code.  For a better idea of how Lake Oswego's code stacks up with other cities', check out the Oregon City Tree Code - it regulates trees in city right of way, steep slopes and identified riparian zones.

A subcommittee proposal for increased fees and fines was very unpopular with the community and the Tree Code Committee.  None of the suggested changes will be forwarded to the Council.  During the final Ad Hoc Tree Code Committee meeting on Monday, May 23, a proponent rationalized the  proposed increases this way:

"The fines were deliberately meant to be punitive because there's no point in having a fine if it wasn't punitive because what's a fine in the first place if it isn't punishment.   So the idea was to have fines that were extremely punitive so that we would never have to impose them because somebody was concerned enough about getting charged $10,000 or $20,000 for chopping some trees down, and maybe they would put somebody out there watching their hired help to make sure they didn't do something wrong, or check to make sure they hit property line or do a locate before they did, and do something."  

At the same meeting, one of the minority group said that the tree code was the most hated code in the city, and that it seemed designed to keep people from cutting down trees.  Her comments with an interjection from the speaker above are here:

"That whole tone - the way you want to punish people so they don't do bad things.... this whole code is written as if we don't trust the person next door to us....."

"That's exactly right!  If we trusted our neighbors, we wouldn't need tree codes."

".... and that anyone who moves here - a stranger moving into our community - should be immediately be distrusted.  This is nuts.  This is crazy. " 

Read the full story in the Lake Oswego Review, May 26, 2016 By Anthony Mack

Tree committee sends revised code to council
'Minority committee' will also submit a report, saying the proposed changes are still too burdensome

Lake Oswego’s Tree Code Committee met for its final session this week, completing what ultimately became a nine-month review process aimed at making the regulations less burdensome to homeowners.

But the three-hour discussion on Monday evening made it clear that while the proposed changes may have the broad support of the committee, there are still plenty of dissenting opinions.

Both online and at the open house, a number of people expressed concern that the new code was still too restrictive on homeowners. But several others raised the opposite issue, arguing that the new rules don’t do enough to protect Lake Oswego’s extensive tree canopy. The disagreement highlights a core philosophical difference in Lake Oswego about property ownership and the role of cities and neighborhoods in managing trees.

“Is it just their (property), or is it part of a whole? People come to different conclusions based on how they feel connected to the urban forest with their property,” Buck told The Review on Monday. “It’s a balance — trying to get a balanced view. I think we worked really hard to get the package we have.”

“I don’t think that people are all of a sudden going to be taking every single tree down in Lake Oswego. I myself would be protesting in the streets (if that happened),” said (Tracy) Marx. “That’s not at all what we’re saying. We’re just saying let people do what they want on their own property.”

Urban wildfires


Fire pits
House fires
BBQ related fires
Downed power lines
Kids playing with matches
Fireplace - chimney sparks
Electrical and chemical fires
Carelessness with matches, propane torches, etc.

About 20 years ago we were at a party on the 4th of July and came home to find blackened bushes and a partially burned pine tree in our front yard.  Illegal fireworks from our neighbor's backyard had landed in our yard, smoldered, and caught fire.  Fortunately, another neighbor saw the fire, grabbed a hose from our yard (thankfully we leave our hoses hooked up), and put out the fire.  We were lucky.  The neighborhood was lucky!

About the same time we were walking in Cook's Butte Park and smelled smoke.  Following my nose, we headed off the path into the brushy woods to find a camp fire ring and a pile of empty beer cans.  The party was over, but the fire was smoldering in the tree roots all around.  Lucky again that fire was spotted before real damage could occur.  There was no one else in the park that day.

Last year there was a two-alarm brush fire in Waluga Park that was thankfully contained with no damage to structures nearby.  It was a very dry summer.

The Lake Oswego Fire Department, with assistance from Clackamas County, assessed the danger of wildfires in Lake Oswego, and several neighborhoods stand out as high risk Wildland Urban Interface zones in our heavily wooded city.  There is no program to create defensible spaces around homes and structures, though the Springbrook Park HOA did undertake such a project on their own.  Indeed, property owners regularly complain about trees just inches from their homes that they would like to get rid of but are not technically hazard trees, and do not count as part of a "landscape plan," necessary for Type II tree removal permits.  Something needs to be done.

What is Lake Oswego's danger of wild fires?  
What can be done to help? 
(Hint: It has to do with our attitudes about preserving trees 
as exhibited by our tree code.)

Check out:
 Clackamas County Communities At Risk: Lake Oswego (detailed) and the Lake Oswego Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan (more general).

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Election heats up

And it's not even summer!

So far, the rhetoric is predictable, the lines are being drawn, and there is a hint of mud in the air.  

In the May 19, 216 Lake Oswego Review, there are several articles of note:

  • Gary Stein wrote about Dave Berg's announcement last week that he is running for mayor.  Last week's edition of the LO Review included a piece by Dave Berg about why he wanted to be mayor.
  • Skip O'Neill wrote a commentary to refute claims made about the Council's performance for the last 3-1/2 years
  • Kent Studebaker also took swipes at opponent Berg by calling his arguments "silly" and that they might be so "scary" that citizens would become fearful.  
  • Gerry Good wrote an article about the shortcomings of the City's 2016-17 budget that does little to address looming shortfalls and over-staffing.  
Studebaker and O'Neill took umbrage with Berg's criticisms of how the City Council has performed and wasted no time firing back.  As both are members of the Council Berg was talking about, and both are running for re-election, they seemed united in their battle for redemption and position.

I am always amused and dismayed that candidates keep using words like silly, scary, dangerous, frightening, crazy, and more, to incite negative feelings about their opponents.  Does this tactic even work anymore, if it ever did?  It's a part of campaigning, but the subtle and not-so-subtle negative references do nothing to draw distinctions between important political and quality of life issues and candidates' thoughts about governance.  

Whatever words candidates choose to use, the public will be looking for answers to their own concerns about their beloved city.  Which of the candidates will try the hardest to give them what they want - not in words, but in actions?

The temperature is guaranteed to only go up from here on.  
Five more months to go!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Cut up the Constitution and Cut a tree

The Fourth Amendment 
 to the Constitution of the United States:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

In 1604 - four hundred, twelve years ago - Britain, concerned with an individual's privacy and defense, determined the government (the King and his agents) did not have the authority to subject citizens to searches without a warrant to do so, and with probable cause.

Fast forward to Lake Oswego, Oregon in 2016.  We are living in Mideaval times where government agents use any means necessary to control citizens from cutting down their own trees.  We haven't even caught up to 17th Century ideas of individual liberty, and freedom from a King who knows no bounds.

A section of our tree code, 55.02.050 Application for Permits:
1.  An application for a tree cutting permit shall be made upon forms prescribed by the City.
             b.  vii. Any other information reasonably required by the City.

1.  You MUST use City forms for your tree removal application.
b. vii.  The City can require ANY OTHER INFORMATION it deems reasonable.
Kind of locks one into a situation where anything goes for the city, and citizens are at their mercy - without any oversight from elected officials.

Look at the Tree Removal Application Forms.  Most cities have a simple one-page form with the normal who, what and where.  Otherwise it's a maze of questions that ends up giving the city staff reasons to approve or deny one's wish to cut down their tree.  The proposed amendments do nothing to simplify their ordeal.  (View the Tree Code Amendments on the city's Tree Code website.)

What other information does the city deem reasonable?  

Back to the 4th Amendment: The city requires one to sign a release that gives away the right of a homeowner to deny entry to the city for purposes of searching for illegal acts.

Reason for Removal:_______________________________________________

I grant permission to the City of Lake Oswego employees to enter the above property to inspect the trees requested for removal and investigate any trees that may appear to have been already unlawfully removed.  I agree to restrain any dog(s) on inspection day.

Signature of Property Owner

From Findlaw.com:
Police may search your property without a warrant if you consent to the search. Consent must be freely and voluntarily given, and you cannot be coerced or tricked into giving it. - See more at: http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-rights/searches-and-seizures-the-limitations-of-the-police.html#sthash.RX9EuAbL.dpuf


"Reasonable" is a one-page, single sided, who, what and where application.  

It's your property after all! 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The 2% solution

We need this in Lake Oswego.

It seems that folks at City Hall think of residents as bottomless pots of gold, but that isn't the case.  Rising water and sewer rates along with compounding 3% property taxes are forcing people on fixed incomes out of the city where they have lived for decades.

If / WHEN Lake Oswego decides to annex county land in the USD, the additional burdens of high utility fees will be an unwelcome shock to new city residents.  Feeling a distinct distrust of Lake Oswego largess that never seems to come their way, and a fear that they can't afford it if it does, some people in Rosewood are considering a move to annex to Rivergrove instead.  Having a Lake Oswego address has its dark side.

Why just watch as other cities charge ahead?  It's time to put control of our future and our finances in our own hands.

Measure forcing vote on most fees above 2 percent wins handily

The Times, May 17, 2016 By Ray Pitz

A measure that would send most new Sherwood fees and taxes raised by more than 2 percent to city voters for approval is won outright during the May 17 election.

Measure 34-244 requires the city to get public approval for any local option property tax levies, water charges, sewer and surface water charges, and street utility fees that rise more than 2 percent.

It would not apply to taxes, fees or charges that are imposed on something other than residential property or utility taxes, charges and fees.

The measure was put forth by former Sherwood Mayor Bill Middleton, who along with others, collected the needed signatures to place it on the ballot after the Sherwood City Council declined to independently send it to voters last summer.

"The bottom line is if voters end up approving this measure we’ll have to adjust and operate in this new charter amendment,” said [Sherwood City Manager] Gall.

He said although it would require the city going out to voters to get approval for fees higher than 2 percent, it wouldn’t prove to be the end of the world.

In April, the Sherwood City Council passed a resolution opposing the measure, saying it would “result in significant financial and lifestyle impacts to its citizens by forcing the city to operate without the ability to raise fees.”
Perhaps people don't remember that large capital projects were put to a vote for approval. To do this, government entities had to craft proposals they thought the public would approve.  Today, once elected, city councils do as they wish, not inclined to give up their power easily.  The old days were't so bad - the power to spend big was held by the people.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Supply and Demand - Housing prices

When people are drowning, they grab onto the first thing they find that they think will save them.  Rent Control is like that.  It looks like a rope someone on a dock threw out to save them.  But the rope is attached to the very structure that is holding up the dock, and the dock starts to sink with the weight and pull of the load.  Everybody is worse off.  The rope idea was a disaster, it just looked good in a desperate situation.  What could have really helped, is throwing everyone a life jacket, but there aren't enough to go around.  What to do?

Buy or make more life jackets!

The housing shortage in Portland has spread to the single family home market.  As the lower cost homes get snapped up at higher than list prices, the houses up the line become more scarce and expensive too.  No one wants to move either because they won't be able to find another house, or they are waiting for even higher prices before they cash in.  Have you tried to rent a house recently?

"I think that's partially or mostly because of our inventory being so low," said Dustin Miller, a broker with Realty Trust Group.

That supply and demand are fixed to prices seems to elude people.  If one simply controls prices - what an apartment can rent for - what you can sell your house for - the supply would dry up and the crisis would only get worse.  The pull on the rope, the undeniable adverse incentives for apartment investors, would topple the supply structure that would have fixed their predicament.  So,



The logical solution is to BUILD MORE HOUSING!  

This is a topic I will be speaking more about in the coming months as the issue heats up in Portland and the Metro area.  Smart people in the business are throwing up red flags, but on one is listening, believing the industry is greedy and only looking out for themselves.  This is the industry that is HELPING to solve the problem!  The logic is there - the other side of the story must be told.

Ultra-low inventory slows down Portland-area housing market

For the first time in recent memory, the number of closed and pending home sales in the Portland area saw an annual decline, according to the April edition of the Regional Multiple Listing Service's monthly report.
With the housing market on a tear, the report had become predictable from last summer into this spring – the number of closed and pending sales for a given month was either the most since before the recession, or the most of all time. But the 2,611 closed sales in April marked a 4.5 percent drop from the same month last year, and pending sales fell from 3,613 in 2015 to 3,076 this year.
"I think that's partially or mostly because of our inventory being so low," said Dustin Miller, a broker with Realty Trust Group. "People are just gobbling up stuff so quickly that homes are really flying off the market."
Inventory indeed remained extremely low, ticking up slightly from 1.3 months in March to 1.4 in April. The figure estimates how long it would take for all current homes on the market to sell at the current pace. (Six months of inventory indicates a balanced market.)
And the trend of rising values also didn't reverse, with the average sale price increasing to $397,700, up from $347,500 last year. The median reached $350,000 last month, the point at which half of homes are more and half are less; in April 2015, the median was barely above $300,000. Homes in desirable areas often receive double-digit numbers of offers.
"The buyer who did win the bid may have a Monday-morning headache crunching the numbers on how much they just paid," said Israel Hill, a managing broker at John L. Scott Real Estate specializing in Northeast Portland, in an email.
Real estate broker Nick Krautter predicted inventory will not significantly rise until prices get so high that the temptation to sell will be too strong for homeowners to resist.
In the meantime, he said, "we'll see prices continuing to increase."
Hot areas in April included Southeast Portland (313 closed sales), the Tigard/Wilsonville area (250), Beaverton/Aloha (245) and West Portland (237).
-- Luke Hammill

Friday, May 13, 2016

Mayoral race is on

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a race!  Two men are now in competition to be Mayor of Lake Oswego for the next 4 years.  Rumors abound about who else will declare for the three open City Council positions, but so far, only two people have talked about it openly, Skip O'Neill and Charles Collins.  There will be more joining the line up soon enough.

Dave Berg says he will run for mayor of Lake Oswego

Lake Oswego Review, May 13, 2016  By Gary Stein

Chairman of the Citizens Budget Committee will challenge incumbent Kent Studebaker in November

Berg, a 26-year resident of the city, told The Review that he would commit himself as mayor to preserving community character, reducing the impact of taxes and water rates on residents and “most importantly, increasing the quality of life in our community.”

“Four years ago, we elected what many thought would be a city government devoted to reform,” said Berg, who is also a board member of the Citizens for Local Accountability in Lake Oswego (COLA LO). “Instead, water rates kept increasing, fees increased and the promise made against high-density development was never kept.”

Since the 2012 election, Berg said, the cost of living in Lake Oswego has been increasing to “unmanageable levels for many in our community who are on fixed incomes or otherwise cannot afford the impact of these higher costs."

Berg has been a vocal critic of the current council, not only for some of its policy decisions but also because of what he sees as a lack of transparency in city government. In particular, he has denounced a move by officials earlier this year to limit public comment periods to one council meeting a month.

“Leadership must govern with the informed consent of the community,” he said, “not act as a political elite by limiting the transparency of decisions and everyone’s access to the public process.”

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Whooee! $$$

The race has begun!  
Sort of.  
Now we need some contenders. 
But the fundraising season is starting, so let the fun begin!  

The one candidate for any city office has been quietly working it.  In 2012, Kent Studebaker collected $38,376 for his first run for Mayor, but did not start collecting money as quickly as this time.  As of March 1, 2016, and largely as a result of one key fundraising party (on a private island no less!), Studebaker collected $14,250 -  just over 1/3 of his 2012 total, with at least 39% of that coming from donors from the real estate and development industries.  As of May 11, Kent collected a total of $15,250. There are 6 months of campaign time left.  You might recognize names of the donors if you check the candidates' campaign financial activity - always a fun thing to do.
Go to: https://secure.sos.state.or.us/orestar/GotoSearchByName.do 

Does this mean that every candidate has to get cozy with the in-crowd - the deep pockets who regularly fund favored candidates because it suits their agenda?  What is the price of a mayorship or a seat on the council?  In a hot election, I'm guessing about $30,000 to $40,000, and I predict every election will be hot or hotter from here on out.  A few people will be able to get away with the bare bones type campaign that Jeff Gudman put together in 2014, but not many.

The chance of returning to a cohesive city seems to be slipping away more and more, and with every election aattitudes coalesce around drastically different visions of Lake Oswego's future.  What visions do the developers have for our city?

Here's my take on what's taken this and other cities off track and put citizens on the outside looking in.  It starts with money - it's always about the money.  City leaders nation-wide have been conditioned to think that redevelopment is the key to making their towns "vibrant", that they withdrew the power of citizens to vote on construction projects and debt, and grabbed it all for themselves.  Greedy to put their stamp on growth and the future of the city, or mesmerized by the visions and talk of others, leaders have held onto exclusive decision-making about spending and debt, manipulated land use, changed land values, altered building and development codes, added to debts and fees (aka taxes that citizens never got to vote on), and all manner of budget items that were only wanted by a few at the top.

The vast majority of people just want their city run well with the least cost possible, and to retain the charm and ambience of the town they chose to live in.  The real estate industry (and planning ideology) has a different agenda that runs counter to citizen wishes.

With Kent getting chummy with the real estate folks and city elites, what might we expect with another 4 years with Studebaker as Mayor?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Saturday School Bond Summit

Listen and learn
There is a good deal of apprehension in the community about giving Lake Oswego School District a pile of money for facilities.  The last time we did that, we wound up with a Taj Mahal of a high School that leaked soon after it was built.  There are those who say that money meant to make repairs to elementary schools was siphoned off for high school  construction. Lack of trust is rampant.  How can taxpayers trust the district to manage their funds od mob efficiently?  The administration has changed, but memories persist.

The community is now faced with decades of neglect of the entire school system.  It's astounding to many - indeed, infuriating - that our public assets have been treated so outrageously.  PERS will continue to take an even bigger bite out of public agency budgets going forward, which means that personnel, salary and benefits, or services will likely be cut somewhere at every level of government.  Cutting maintenance of buildings is not an option.

At this time, it is incumbent upon the school district to look into every nook and cranny to see what money can be turned toward facilities maintenance.  Any talk of competition with private schools regarding facilities should be rejected.  It isn't the building that makes a quality education, it's the quality of education.  Having said that - let's get hundreds of kids out of portables at Rivergrove School!  The district wouldn't tolerate such deplorable conditions at any other school in the district.

I urge everyone to go to the Bond Summit this Saturday to learn about the very real needs for school repairs and ask questions.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Tree codes: Cartoons for grown-ups

Property owners become the butt of a bad joke.  

Read the newspaper article below to see just how silly our tree codes are, and see if the new tree code amendments will make them any more reasonable and user friendly.  It appears the code language that the judge ran into is being changed.  Are the proposed changes supposed to make it easier or more difficult to do normal landscaping?  I can't interpret what they mean, but they might make it harder if staff gets to approve a written landscape plan before you can cut a tree.  Is that what is being proposed?  Hard to tell, but if so, that would make the tree code immensely more onerous.

The public comment on the draft codes is open until May 18.   Get your comments in to the committee, and send a copy to the City Council and label them as: TESTIMONY FOR PUBLIC HEARING ON  PP 15-0003.  Lastly, come to the public hearing yourself to testify in person or just come to show support for real change in the city's most hated municipal code.  If you come to the meeting, you may read from your prepared comments if you wish, but anything you have to say will be great.

Now for the fun stuff.

A judge, a tree, two rhododendrons and a battle with city hall:  editorial Agenda 2016
The Oregonian, March 7, 2016. By The Oregonian Editorial Board
Use link above to read the entire article.

Local governments rarely provide fodder for political cartoons or TV comedy skits. But when it comes to limiting basic liberties, it's hard to beat your local city council. Try waggling a chainsaw at a backyard tree in a place like Lake Oswego, and you'll see what we mean. Or, if it's easier, read about Tom Rastetter and his Douglas fir.

Like many cities, Lake Oswego has established conditions under which homeowners may remove trees of various sizes. Such trees may not belong to the public, but the code assumes that they provide a public benefit that justifies an abridgement of homeowners' property rights. Even if you accept that such an abridgement is appropriate, it's no small feat to strike the proper balance of interests, which is why tree-preservation codes are easier to support in principle than in practice — especially when they're being practiced upon you.

Lake Oswego is in the midst of a tree-code review, and the saga of Rastetter's tree provides two timely questions. The first question: Is the city, even with a revamped code, capable of properly balancing the interests of the public with those of property owners? If Rastetter's experience is any indication, it sure doesn't seem so. Two appeals, the hiring of an arborist and the expertise that comes with being a circuit court judge: All were necessary to remove a single tree — in a group of 10! — whose existence is a burden the person who owns it.the person who owns it.

The second question: If Lake Oswego can't be counted on to strike the proper balance, should it be regulating what homeowners do with the plants in their yards at all? No doubt, Lake Oswego would continue to have an abundant supply of trees even if it let homeowners cut them down whenever they felt like it.

Shhh:  Here's a tip about dealing with the city on tree codes of you ever need it.  And if they change the wording of the codes a bit, the equation should still come out the same.  What's good enough for the Judge, should be good enough for the citizens!  

City Math:


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Review and preview


Last night's public hearings were held as scheduled with the predictable outcomes.  Councilor Joe Buck saw no conflict of interest, actual or potential, that made his situation any more important than any of the other 70-80 properties that are affected by the Boones Ferry Roade project, so he applied the class exception for conflict of interest to himself.  It depends upon which side of the road you are viewing it from I guess.

If you get the chance, look at the attachments to the Lake Grove Parking Management Plan and Code Amendments that were presented at the public hearing last night.  They are at the end of the downloadable document and address problems with the proposed parking lots and garage.  The pictures of what a 45' garage would look like from the neighbor's back yard are startling.  According to the Plan, in the future there may be a similar garage on Oakridge Rd. - the city would just have to amend the code - again.  It's all for the greater good.   Some people will have to make sacrifices, just not the people making the decisions.

Did the Council truly understand what mixed use housing (housing units over one or more floors of commercial (retail, office, restaurant) in the SWEA will mean?  There is virtually no employment associated with housing - it's like public storage for people which has been banned from the area.  Is housing what they consider good use of an employment district?  Since these things are glossed over or brought up separately by staff, the connections are lost when it comes time to discuss or decide on an issue.  (Same thing is true with the Budget Committee.)  What if all the property owners want to put in mixed use with housing?  It's a mixed use world we live in.  It must be what the majority wants.

The repercussions of mixed use housing are well known to the planning staff as they create the codes, so it is by design that these changes occur.  If USC can think of it, surely professionals are out ahead of the pack - it's just that we have to guess what the ultimate plans are by looking for crumbs that they leave behind.


Now that Lake Grove parking and code amendments are finished, and the SW Employment Area plan is done and all have been tentatively approved, here's a short list of some issues still to come:

Commercial Code Streamlining - will change land uses within commercial zones in the city.  Will the Parks Department expand even more using funds gleaned from SDCs to create community gardens?  Why not use valuable commercial land for farming?  Community Gardens are proposed for single family residential areas also - as a primary or accessory use, not just conditional.  Watch Planning Commission Meeting April 25, 2016 for presentation.

Tree Code Amendments - were supposed to streamline current codes and make tree removal less onnerous for homeowners.  You can decide if the Ad-Hoc Committee succeeded by reading the Draft Tree Codes and making comments to the Committee and sending testimony to the Council.

Decisions on Multi-Dwelling Development.  Is this a good idea for Lake Oswego?  The Planning Commission and City Council rejected this last year, only to be revived in January by Joe Buck with agreement by Jon Gustafson.  Read the Code Streamlining work so far to glean any hints about where these might fit in.  Will Staff be open about what grand plan they envision with the code changes they propose?   This was their idea in the first place - what do they have in mind for our city?

Elections.  Only one person has declared himself a candidate for Mayor (Kent Studebaker) and collected tens of thousands of dollars early this year to help the campaign.  Who else will run, and what impact will the election have on the future of the city?

Predictions:  A new land use plan that will allow for mixed use housing in the Kruse Way Employment Center.  Perhaps that will be taken care of with the code streamlining, but it's my hunch that although housing is currently allowed in commercial zones, there will be changes in this area.  More housing, less employment to take advantage of light rail in Tigard.

Look for tHe City Manager to bring back a report on annexation of all residential land in the Urban Services Boundary - Forest Highlands, Southwood Park, Lake Forest, Rosewood.  Rivergrove is experiencing requests from  Lake Oswego property owners to switch jurisdictions.  Why? And will current County residents be eager to be part of the city?  (Lots of new property taxes for LO!)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tuesday CC Hearings

City Council Public Hearings
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
City Council Chambers, City Hall
6:30 PM

Southwest Employment Area Plan (SWEA)
Kudos to the Pkanning Commission for wanting to save the area as a light industrial/business park.  Looking at the details of the SWEA Plan, it is difficult to see this vision.  It is nearly impossible to see how new manufacturing and warehouse buildings can be built with the proposed codes that seem geared more towards the mixed-use model with connections to public transit in Tualatin.  The size of retail area closer to Boones Ferry Rd. has grown.  There is concern that there will be establishments that draw shoppers or diners to the area rather than Lake Grove where such businesses are already established and expected to grow.  A food cart hub - tasty or tacky?  Housing in the employment zone will be allowed.  With this mix of uses in play, how could land be priced low enough for industrial uses and the high quality jobs (not just lower-end retail and restaurant workers) Metro mandates for employment centers?

The situation with storm water management
looks like a disaster in the making.  Planners are counting on infiltration - both on-site for new development, and in the right of way - to handle all of the storm water for the area.  Forever.  This, despite the fact that previous attempts to manage drainage along Lakeview Blvd. on the Lake Oswego side have not worked.  During heavy rains, water from the north floods the residential area on the other side of the street - but hey, that's in the county, so those homes don't count.  Pervious pavement, road-side infiltration trenches, and in-street catch basins with dry wells are all non-functional.  Catch basins have a limited lifespan to begin with, so depending on this system as a permanent solution for stormwater removal in the SWEA is foolhardy.  But that's what the plan is.  In the past, developers would be expected to put a piped conveyance system in a roadway they built, but it's a new day, and today we find ways to make financial risks easier for this industry.

The last big issue is that no matter how the zones are labeled now, the land uses within all commercial zones in the city are expected to change when the new Code Streamlining Project takes place this year.  So, even if the zone names remain the same, the zones may change from within.  You can't count on what you see today to define the future of the area - you have to know what the planners have in mind for the code streamlining.  The whole picture will come into view eventually, but we are only seeing the plan bit by bit.  Let's see the whole enchilada.  Until then you must trust, because you can't verify.

Lake Grove Village Center Parking Management Plan
The impetus for adding public parking spaces is to replace those lost to the Boones Ferry Rd. Improvement project.  Numbers have changed, but the last figure I heard was about 33 spaces overall.  But that doesn't solve some of the parking headaches that exist now.  At peak hours, the most constrained parking lots are at Lake Grove Shopping Center and Babica Hen/Gubanc's.  Oakridge Rd. is also congested with parked cars because the city did not require enough parking for Oakridge Park Apartments (22 spaces for 44 units) on the theory that low-income seniors don't own cars and that there is a bus stop nearby.  (Silly ageist and Smart Growth thinking.).

The Smart Growth program is to limit new parking so developers can build more cheaply, and then let the public supply the needed parking facilities.  We get to subsidize developers AND deal with parking limitations.  A one-block stretch Oakridge Rd. is poised to be the most congested street in the city after State St. and A Avenue, if a parking lot is built mid-block, and especially so if there is access from both Boones Ferry Rd. and Oakridge - great for short-cuts!  But if there is an advantage for developers, residents can eat dirt.

Will Councilor Joe Buck recuse himself from tonight's hearing?  There was a challenge to his eligibility to discuss and make determinations on the plan because he has ownership interests in Babica Hen and Gubanc's Pub - one of the two constrained parking lots in Lake Grove, and the only one in the Central  District of Lake Grove.  The approval of a public lot, and the right location of the lot, would benefit his businesses immensely.  The conflict of interest is apparent to many and he does not seem to fit the "class exception" to the State Government Standards and Practices ethics laws.  Is there a "potential" benefit to him, or will the benefit be real?  If there is no benefit for the most constrained businesses, then the city should scratch the plan altogether and concentrate on those 33 spaces it promised to local businesses.

Lake Grove Village Center Overlay Code Amendments (2 separate hearings related to parking and development)
It took 10 years to create the Lake Grove Village Center Overlay that dictates how the Lake Grove area will develop over the next few decades.  Careful attention was given to the property rights of commercial property owners and residential owners that abutt or are near the commercial zones.

Changes to the codes will chip away
at these well-crafted and negotiated codes that will diminish the protections for residential areas.  Because parking is more important.  Because businesses can't be expected to provide their own parking anymore (it costs money, and the city would rather spend tax dollars on parking so that cars are kept offsite and walking between buildings is easier.  Up and down the strip.  Crossing the 4-lane highway.  We will now take a bus (what bus?), park our cars out of the way, and walk.  Or bike.  Or so decrees the Central Planners.  And the people living in houses behind the three-story parking garage that is planned for the Round Table Pizza site can ... Well, they can't fight city hall so what can they do?

Existing local businesses and those yet to come will appreciate these new codes.  Thee changes will save them lots of money because you are paying for their parking instead.  This is what is called "removing barriers to development."  This is not called "compatible with residential areas," but we should be getting used to comforting words and empty promises.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Ideas for Lake Grove

USC has been knocking these ideas around for awhile.  An article in TheTimes (Tigard, Tualatin, Sherwood) inspired me to throw these out to you to see what others think.
How to improve Lake Grove for the next generation

  • The East End has multiple public buildings and parks available for meetings and events. People say they want a public meeting space in the West End too, especially after the sale of the WEB.  
  • Business owners want to see more foot traffic - difficult to do with strip development.
  • Parking is at a premium in Lake Grove.  
  • There is no space for outdoor festivals and events.  
  • At some point, the LO School District will have to sell Lake Grove School.  The land is simply too valuable and their need for money is too great.  The city should buy the school and the property (including the bus barn/parking in the rear).  Yes, it will cost a lot,  it not anything like the WEB.  This is true Lake Grove character in size and style.
  • Building space can be used for meetings, classes, children's play area, teen space, special events, private nursery school, arts center (like Multnomah), coffee bar lounge, etc.
  • City offices for parks department (space for equipment in rear - close to operations center)
  • The exterior can be used for sports playing fields, rented for events, festivals, street fairs, etc. Light it up at night - set up the tents... 
  • Weekday evening farmers market (like Willamete area of West Linn, Pasadena, Pomona, San Luis Obispo...evening fairs are the new big thing!)
  • Local merchants and restauranteurs can have booths and prevent the bleed of retail traffic to Bridgeport and elsewhere. (The SLO street market is famous for BBQ and people come from all over to get a taste!)
  • Public Parking (in rear)
  • Others? 
What do you think?

Bridgeport Village to start farmers market next month

The Times, April 19, 2016  By Geoff Persinger

But Kimberly Blue, regional marketing director at Bridgeport Village, said the market will fit right in with the shopping center's mission of providing a meeting space to the community.

“Personally, I love going to farmers markets on the weekend, but by midweek everything is gone,” said Blue. “I’m a family mom who is juggling kids’ sports and everything else. We wanted to give consumers that ability to get their veggies and have fun mid-week.”