Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Stormwater hardships predicted

From the July 2016 issue of the HBA Home Building News:  (HBApdx.org)

Around the Region
Local government building and development issues update

Lake Oswego Stormwater and Permitting Process Being Reviewed

The Home Builders Association recently met with City Councilor and member Skip O'Neil to address stormwater regulations and other permitting issues in Lake Oswego that are creating hardships, delays and excess costs on homes being built and remodeled.  At this stage, plans have become stagnant, with the city not moving forward to address the issue.  The Home Builders Association is working to establish relationships to help find a resolution to the City's drainage problems that does not place an added cost on residents and builders.  

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Good luck on those resolutions.  Even if the City magically came up with the money and the means to create a city-wide stormwater conveyance system, on-site stormwater "facilities" are the new standards for stormwater control.  EPA and DEQ rules would most likely not allow the City to avoid lot-by-lot drainage systems because this would be considered "backsliding" on environmental standards.  These systems, the ponds, dry wells, and swales, are all geo-engineered, GPS-tagged, recorded, documented and tracked as EPA facilities.  

Recall that the Engineering Department first proposed 200 sf of new impervious improvements or simple re-roofing as the trigger for requiring on-site stormwater facilities, where prior standards were 3,000 sf.  Even that was a lower standard than necessary - the DEQ/County threshold was, and still is, 5,000 sf.  After some vocal criticism, the final threshold was approved at 1,000 sf.  

The entire City Council approved the 1,000 sf threshold plan.  So did the HBA in a letter to the 
Council.  I assume they came to this number as a "compromise" that was somewhere between the most and least restrictive options.  Who sets the parameters, and why doesn't the council demand more?  Are these bodies now seeing the damage they bought into?  They were warned, but now express dismay about what their positions mean.  

Their buyer's remorse doesn't help homeowners much.

From Exhibit G6:  Letter from HBA Metropolitan Portland, City Council Public Hearing (Letter written by Jon Kloor 11/23/15)

"Notably, I applaud that the City has chosen to increase the minimum review size on small projects from 200 square feet to 500 square feet; put in place a process in which smaller project stormwater review applies only to new impervious areas, and for adding tools to the manual to streamline the process for smaller projects. However, I would respectfully ask that the Planning Commission consider further increasing the minimum review size from 500 square feet to 1,000 square feet. By increasing the minimum review size to 1,000 square feet, the City would be adopting standards in line with many of the surrounding jurisdictions, as well as save home owners thousands of dollars in compliance costs associated with a home remodel.

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