Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

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.


  1. The Lake Grove parking lot is a colossal waste of money whether it is urban development money or not. If we must have parking there build a surface lot and monitor usage. Then if there is enough build a parking structure.
    Meeting space will be in the new Ops Center, do not need it in a garage.

    1. The issue is where to put a parking lot (or garage) that won't be a problem for residents. Since Lake Grove is a strip commercial area less than a block deep in most places, there isn't any place to put a lot if you want to keep it off Boones Ferry Rd. - except the Round Table site, and that would still take owner buy-in. I wonder if that owner is backing away because the other properties on Oakridge looks like easy pickings. The central lot would be for two restaurants only - Ricardo's and Babica Hen/Gubanc's - since people don't park and walk very far. How much parking does a restaurant need when their capacity is limited by its seating? The central lots would fill up fast with seniors living on Oakridge. Would it be open over night? Then the seniors will have to move their cars. No matter the hours, somebody is going to lose sleep and have to listen to people, cars, and smell fumes instead of birds and fresh air.