Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Mountain Park Letter (Update)

Electioneering in the City's biggest 'hood
Kent  Studebaker has supporters with deep enough pockets to shell out for mass mailings to endorse him.  I already wrote that the Lake Oswego Corporation mailed out about 3,700 letters to their shareholders plus those with deeded easement rights - about 1/4 of the households in the city.

On Friday, people in the Mountain Park neighborhood received a letter encouraging them to vote for Kent.  The letter mimicked the color and type of stationary and had a logo of the Mt. Park HOA on top, however, it did not come from the HOA.  Their website disavows any connection to the letter.

Update:  Studebaker has written an apology letter to the Mt. Park HOA that explains that his campaign PAC is responsible for, and paid for the mailing.

The letter was signed by Matt Palmer.  Palmer is the Chair of the of the newly formed Mt. Park Neighborhood Association.  He did not reference the NA in his letter.
  • Mt. Park represents a huge portion of the city that has an untapped "need" of campaign presence.  The HOA does not allow political signs or soliciitations.  What is a candidate to do?
The total number of households in Lake Oswego is 17,000.
The total number of households in Mt. Park is about 4,310, about 25% of households in the city.*
The total number of shareholders on the Lake Oswego Corporation is 693.
The total number of households with dended lake privleges is 3,000.
The number of all Lake Corp-associated properties is 3,693, about 22% of households in Lake Oswego.
If all households in both groups above received endorsement mailings, the total would be 47%.
*This number is not from an official source and might affect the percent below.  I use it here as a close estimate.

About half the population of Lake Oswego.  Along with voting and party imformation, those are very valuable mailing lists.  IF they were obtained and used properly.  According to Studebaker's letter to the HOA Board of Directors, the mailing list used was from the County list of registered voters in that area.

These types of endorsements are not very appealing.  I am sometimes  amused and/or put off while reading them before I throw them away.
Do these things even work?  

Here is The Mountain Park (Palmer) Letter:

Vote for excellence!

Lake Oswego deserves the best

Do not vote for Progressives!
Pertaining to the candidates who describe themselves as Progressives and want to establish a "Progressive Majority" on the City Council.  Gustafson and Kohlhoff and their 2 comrades that make up the majority should be passed over for any kind of government leadership position.  Their calling is more appropriate as outside activists for their causes.

In a letter to the editor in Thursday's Lake Oswego Review, one person says it in plain language:

 Oswego Review, October 27, 2016
Readers Letters (Excerpt)
"Enough with the political agendas and personal “visions” of what Lake  Oswego and we as citizens should be.  How about making our city a better and stronger community! Strong, structure, quality, solvent and efficient are words that come to mind.  Not a councilor’s vision of who and what we should be." 
-- Kristi Harnish

Note: Harnish's quote is from a letter endorsing Chatles Collins for City Council.  Please read the entire Learn more about Charles Collins.
Excellence for Mayor

Vote for Dave Berg for Mayor!
In a heated campaign, someone who is fighting for the interests of all citizens of the city can be overlooked.  Do we look at all the warm and fuzzy things promised by Dave's competitors - parks, library, bike paths - or look at the person who tells you up front what he stands for and how he will get us there?  Dave is the guy you should listen to.  

The best person to tell you who Dave is, what he stands for, and what he wants to accomplish as your mayor, is Dave himself.  Read Dave's Citizen View, "Vision requires understanding the Facts" in the October 27, 2016, Lake Oswego Review. 

 Dave lays out the principal reason he is running for Mayor - it isn't for power, prestige and social engineering, not for personal gain or cronyism.  Dave wants to be the "Citizens' Mayor."  His entire campaign effort is to preserve Lake Oswego as an affordable place to live for people who already live here by holding down taxes and water/sewer rates.  He is interested in prioritizing maintaining our considerable investment in our infrastructure and keeping the community safe with strong fire and police departments.  He wants Lake Oswego to stay the Lake Oswego we all moved here to enjoy.

As the Chair of the Citizens' Budget Committee, he has been frustrated that our City Council (whitch includes the entire City Council and Mayor) has not developed a long term plan to deal with the PERS looming budget crisis, and more aggressive attempts to save money through smart spending - not loss of services as some have suggested.  As for parks, library and the rest - it goes without saying that these are essential to our quality of life.  But we can't have these things unless we have the money to pay for them.  

I have been most impressed with Dave's openness - he actively solicits citizens' opinions and concerns and seeks to understand the true heart of the city.  He is the only candidate for mayor who is not tied to any special interests.  This is intentional - his is a CITIZENS' grass-roots effort.  If you think this means he isn't qualified to be our top leader, think again!  I can't get his lengthy, impressive resume on this blog, but you can find more about Dave at his website;

If you have questions or want more to formation, feel free to contact him through his website.  

  PS:  If you have already voted, tell your friends and neighbors about Dave Berg for Mayor.  
You will be glad you did.  

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Lake Corp. jumps in

A kettle of fish

Are private, corporations allowed to send out campaign endorsements that encourage their members to vote for a slate of candidates?  At the very least, it seems like the candidates would have to claim the mailings as an in-kind contribution, unless their campaigns paid for the endorsements, but that's another kettle of fish.

The Lake Oswego Corporation represents every business and homeowner whose lot touches the main Lake, Lakewood Bay, West Bay, Blue Heron Bay, and the main canal to the Tualatin River.  They also represent the jointly-owned easements that dot the rim of the Lake, Sundeleaf Park and Millennium Park Plaza.  There are lots in a large portion of the city that have deeded rights to one or more of the established easements but don't use them.

All together, the aforementioned households number around 3,637, Lake Oswego has about 17,000 households, which makes those with some connection (though tenuous) to the Lake just under 1/4 (22%) of the households in the city.  How much does a mailing like that cost?

According to long-time Lake Corp members, this is the first time they can remember in over 40 years that the Lake Corp has endorsed candidates.  In a mass mailing to 5,000 households, almost 1/3 of the households in the city, the Lake Oswego Corporation endorsed 4 candidates.  Why did they make this unprecedented move?

                                                        I can't read minds, and I wasn't a fly on the wall
in the room when endorsement decisions were made. But if I had to guess, it would have something to do with the pending lawsuit that threatens to make Oswego Lake public.

Kent Studebaker and Skip O'Neill have lakefront properties and are part of the Lake Corp.  The majority of Studebaker's campaign contributions are from Lake Corporation members.  They all have overlapping interests, so their endorsements were in the bag.

Why do endorsements at all?  If I had to guess, it would be because the Lake Corp is frightened that in a three-way race, Dave Berg would take votes from Kent, and Jon Gustafson would win.  The Studebaker campaign has been taking shots at and insulting Berg for months, aiming not at their true opponent, Jon Gustafson, but at6a strong competitor with a compelling message.

If Studebaker had been using nis energy (and money) to fight the "Progressive Majority," the city would be much better off and the worst outcome would have been avoided. Perhaps there are too many influential names in Gustafson's camp to go at him directly.  Or his fear of Berg was just too strong.  Thank goodness Berg is for the citizens and is independent of these political machinations!
Correction:  In my mailbox today I received a mailer from the Studebaker campaign comparing Kent to Jon.  OK effort but too little too late?  

Two VERY partisan campaigns!!

How do we get the partisanship out of our city?

This is from a mailer to Lake Oswego voters from local women Democrats. That's another thing I don't like about this piece - it demeans women by making the election about gender, not issues, positions, and the good of the city!  Isn't that what women's liberation was all about ladies?  If you have to run in a pack, you are taking women back a huge step!

Why should anyone care what party or gender someone is
if they are a good leader for the city?  

In our divided nation and Blue State, why do these Democrats have to bring party politics into Lake Oswego?  A few years ago, the progressive faction pitted itself against the citizens and stirred up a lot of anger and divisiveness.  This letter, and other advertising from Theresa Kohlhoff and Jon Gustafson have promised more of the same: Progressive party politics all the way!

The nice thing about this letter is that it clearly spells out what they stand for.

Theresa:  Pro-Choice (What does this have to do with Lake Oswego?), transit options (streetcar), prioritize parks, library and quality of life (The fun stuff, not roads, bridges, aging sewer and water lines), create a real partnership that improves our local schools (Shouldn't she be running for the School Board?).  

Elsewhere she has said she wants Lake Oswego to be more "generous".  ??? (Is that progressive-speak for forced wealth distribution?  I would like that clarified.)

Jon:  Will stand up for the environment (Who doesn't? It's not just progressives who like trees), prioritize parks, libraries and public safety (glad to see public safety - we must prioritize essential services), only candidate for mayor to be endorsed by groups we trust (If you have to look to other people or groups to figure out who to vote for.. that's lame. Think for yourself.). 

If you are not for the progressive agenda and partisan politics... well... you had better hope they don't win.  Better than that, vote for a nonpartisan candidate!  We still have some of them left.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Upzoning Portland

I keep hearing our Mayor, City Councilors and planners say that they want to protect the low-density of the neighborhoods.  Or, they have avoided up-zoning neighborhoods.  I wonder if this is supposed to be an achievement, or is it a warning about what might come?

Some people wish Portland was less popular with the young people who flock here.  Upzoning ought to keep people away.  Especially the majority who see a single family home on their own lot as their preferred lifestyle.

To read the entire article, find it on
The Antiplanner: Dedicated to the sunset of government planning

Portland, Thy Name Is Density
The Antiplanner

Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is following the White House’s advice by proposing to increase the densities of nearly two-thirds of the city’s single-family neighborhoods. Under the proposal, duplexes, triplexes, and accessory dwelling units would be allowed in single-family areas. 
The plan also proposes to limit the size of a home to about half the square footage of the lot it is on, while at the same time allowing buildings to cover a larger area of the lot. That’s supposedly to prevent McMansions, but it also just happens to encourage people to build two separate homes on one lot (one of which would be called an “accessory” unit).
Portland’s previous mayor, Sam Adams, had proposed that only areas within a quarter-mile of light-rail and streetcar stops be densified, thus leaving most existing single-family neighborhoods alone. This new plan overturns that idea. Portland’s current mayor elect, Ted Wheeler, said during his campaign that he supported legalizing duplexes and garden apartments in single-family neighborhoods, which is even more radical than the proposed plan. I wonder if he supports them in his own neighborhood.
Nothing about this plan is going to make housing more affordable. In fact, it will increase the scarcity of single-family detached homes, the kind most homebuyers prefer. The fact that it is being imposed mainly on working-class and moderate-income neighborhoods just makes it that much less equitable.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Local government best for democracy

An important paper about the importance of independent, nonpartisan, local governance.  Visit the website- link below.

From the Center for Opportunity Urbanism

Local Govt. Control: The Ignored Campaign Issue

By Joel Kotkin


In a new paper, “Our Town: Restoring Localism,” my colleague Wendell Cox and I argue that centralization should not be regarded as a partisan issue. Some progressives, particularly in academia, assert that support for localized decision-making rests “not in facts but rather in ideology and politics.” Some also link any devolutionary agenda to the crimes committed in the name of “states’ rights,” most notably slavery and the post-Reconstruction Jim Crow laws.
Sadly, the closer one gets to the Washington honey pot, the more that progressive passion for localism tends to fade. Some liberals embrace nothing short of an administrative dictatorship in pursuit of their policy agendas. Last year, a writer in the Atlantic actually called for the creation of a “technocracy” to determine energy, economic and land-use policies throughout the world. This regime would impose such unpopular notions as energy austerity on an already fading middle class, limiting mundane pleasures like cheap air travel, cars, freeways, suburbs and single-family housing.
We need to forge a new path that empowers the grassroots economy and polity, and respects the diversity of contemporary America. We can’t expect that this movement will draw much interest from Washington institutions, which gorge on centralization, but it could be propelled by local communities and people who still believe in the decentralized democracy envisioned by the Founders.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Friends of Lake Oswego makes its move!

I have mine!
Do you have yours?  

This is what I have been waiting for - the expensive, 4-color glossy mailer from the Friends of Lake Oswego PAC endorsing 2 Democrat candidates for mayor and city council.

City of Lake Oswego
Jon Gustafson for Mayor . Theresa Kohlhoff for City Council

Candidates for our Progressive Majority 
on the Lake Oswego City Council

Visioning a train wreck.

It sounds like a planned takeover of the City Council and the City!  "Our Progressive Majority" is a promise (or threat) to return the city to the gory days of the 2000s when the Hammerstad and Hoffman regimes ran roughshod over citizens in their attempts to bring a Smart Growth, Sustainable culture to Lake Oswego.  The acrimony and divisiveness between this insular group and the mainstream population tore the city apart.  This is that group's attempt to regain power.

So, besides Joe Buck, who is the 4th person on the PROGRESSIVE dream-team council?  (For those who did not receive a mailer, the list of endorsements on the back page includes local politicians Judie Hammerstad, Ann Lininger and Joe Buck.)  I have a pretty good guess who the fourth Council person would be, but what this all means is that these FOUR individuals are declaring that their agenda for the city is superior and any "minority" view is inconsequential compared to their own power and control over city affairs.  This is pure arrogance and should not be rewarded.  

This is dangerous talk my friends.

Playing only to their own crowd would mean more than having a streetcar shoved down unwilling throats - it would mean living in a city where one segment of citizens is at war with another.  This is why local elections are NONPARTISAN.  Small cities cannot withstand this kind of divisiveness and remain whole or be welcoming places to live.  I strongly urge everyone to let your friends and neighbors know that voting for Jon and Theresa would be a disaster that we may never recover from.

The bitterness of the past centered on the density of development planned for Foothills, the Town Centers and Kruse Way, the streetcar to Portland, the codes that allow super-sized developments like the Wizer Block, and the ongoing (will it ever end?) Downtown Redevelopment District that sucks money from our property tax base and funnels it to developers' profits. The sustainability portion includes one of the most restrictive tree codes in the state and a storm water plan that is more burdensome for homeowners.

I have read this advertisement and do not see any details of how the two candidates plan to enact their policy goals, nor how they plan to pay for them.  I also note the expansion of their goals into things the City has never been involved with, nor has the authority to do.  The City Council would be a one-stop-shop for fulfilling all of their dreams, paid for with our money.  

I have seldom seen such blatant arrogance and disregard for the opinions and goals of the community. This "guide" shows the public just how far these two would go if they were elected.  I hope this mailer is distributed widely!  Lake Oswegans are so much smarter than this feel-good, empty drivel implies.

Dissecting the Progressive mind:

"We support a healthy environment with affordable clean water partnerships, investments in sustainability, and reduction of the city's carbon footprint."
"Affordable water partnerships?"  "Invest in sustainability?"  What does that mean?  We do not pay taxes so that a few idealists can satisfy their larger ambitions.

"We are proud to be supported by Lake Oswego's hard working municipal employees and firefighters."
Campaign statements have indicated the candidates do not favor cutting staff if resources are strained due to PERS or other needs. How could these two negotiate an employee contract that is in the best interests of the citizens if their loyalties are compromised?  

"We support increased opportunities for safe after-school learning and sports activities for children, and we share a vision for our future that helps attract more young families to our community."
If parents want to government to pay for this, they can lobby the school district for it.  How about a YMCA?  How does a city attract young families?  As I look around at my neighborhood, I see plenty of young people pushing strollers and such, and more every day as older people die or move out.  The city should continue to provide a safe city with good schools and iit sells itself.  

"We need a progressive vision for Lake Oswego.  A vision that puts high quality parks, public safety and libraries first, protects our open spaces and environment, and maintains Lake Oswego's reputation as a great place to live, work and raise our families."
Putting the library and parks ahead of infrastructure spending (sewer lines, bridge and road repairs, storm water management) is foolhardy.  It's like wanting to remodel your house when the roof is falling in. It's all important, but the city can't function without good  infrastructure.

"As a mother and grandmother, Theresa wants to focus on further housing and transportation opportunities for a wider range of citizens.  Theresa will fight for our city, and ensure that our infrastructure, service and civic needs ar met.
What needs is she talking about?!  What kind of housing opportunities?  Who is she going to be fighting against?  With that Progressive Majority, whatever they want would be a cakewalk. 

I had planned to write about the ambitions of these two candidates as discerned through their own words in interviews and forums.  Through the doublespeak and obfuscation, comes a clear vision of the streetcar, bike paths, cluster housing, increased density in neighborhoods, and subsidized housing.  In short, not happy to be just a suburb of Portland, Jon and Theresa are aiming for Lake Oswego to be a mini-Portland, just "not as dense as South Waterfront."  (Quote by Jon Gustafson.). While I laugh at the mailer on front of me, I put my faith in the levelheadness of the voters to reject these candidates and their partisan, arrogant visions for us.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Where do your PAC contributions go?

What Political Action Committees do:
  • General PACs promote certain ballot measures and like-minded candidates' political campaigns.
  • Candidate PACs primarily promote the election of a single candidate.
  • Both Candidate and General PACs donate funds to other Candidate and General PACs.
Example:  You could give money to Friends of Ann Lininger thinking you were helping her get re-elected to her position in the state legislature.  You might then be surprised to learn that her PAC was giving money to other (Democtat) candidates and sympathetic general PACs.  From there the money can go any number of places - to pay for campaign expenses, or to go to still other candidate and general PACs.

Since PAC money is fungible, one cannot track a single person's or entity's contributions, but be forewarned that when you donate to a PAC, you lose control over how the money is spent and who benefits from your donation.

USC NOTE: I am not picking on Ann Lininger - her campaign activity is typical of others in the state legislature.  I picked her PAC as an example of how money gets passed through PACs, only because it (she) contributed money to local candidates and the new Friends of Lake Oswego PAC that I am following.

Can you follow the money?

Round 1: FO Ann Lininger PAC 
Money comes from:  Eli Lilly and Co., ($500); Oregon Canibis PAC ($250); Oregon Education Association ($500); Oregon Hospital Political Action Committee ($2,500); Amazon.com ($1,000); and many more.

Money goes to:  Friends of Jon Gustafson ($250); Friends of Theresa Kohlhoff ($250);   Friends of Lake Oswego ($1,750)

Round 2: Jon Gustafson and Theresa Kohlhoff Candidate PACs
Money comes from: FO Ann Lininger (see above)

Money goes to:  Friends of Lake Oswego (see below)

Round 3:  Friends of Lake Oswego PAC
Money comes from:  Friends of Jon Gustafson ($10,000);  Friends of Theresa Kohlhoff ($4,500); Friends of Ann Lininger ($1,750). Friends of Lake Oswego has received over $30k to date. Over half its funds come from these three PACs.

Money goes to:  FOLO has not spent any money yet.

PAC contributions are like big-league re-gifting among friends.  Only money is the kind of gift people enjoy getting, and giving.  And no wrapping to mess with!

USC is not a fan of re-gifting - Donors' contributions should stay with the PAC they are given to, to make the transfer of funds more transparent and connections between entities more clear.  The public needs to be able to follow the money!  None of this shell game stuff! 

Urban planning destroys housing affordability

Urban Planning theories are far from reality. The reality is that urban planning results in less affordable housing and a lower quality of life for city-dwellers.  It is doubtful that urban planners will catch on to this truth because there is no incentive to do so.  Wide understanding of the issues might devestate the profession.

Research defies conventional wisdom that says intensification of land use (high density residential) will yield more affordable housing units; and that urban containment boundaries have little to no effect on housing prices as long as there are lands held in reserve to be used when necessary.

Notes from the New Geography website.

Urban containment, endangered working families and beleaguered minorities
By Wendell Cox. 10/04/2016

Much of this has to do, as explained below, with attempts to stop development on the urban periphery which is indispensable to keeping housing affordable. Such prohibitions have been widely advocated by the  planning establishment. Moreover, a new White House Housing Development Toolkit,  rightly identifies housing unaffordability as an important issue but does not mention the important role of greenfield development in keeping costs down.

Note 4: The planning establishment sometimes glosses over the reduced quality of life entailed in its efforts to discourage detached housing and force people into higher density housing. This is not their job. The quality of life can only be judged by households themselves.   Read more.

Two Cheers for NIMBYism
By Joel Kotkin. 10/17/2016

Politicians, housing advocates, planners and developers often blame the NIMBY — “not in my backyard” — lobby for the state’s housing crisis. And it’s true that some locals overreact with unrealistic growth limits that cut off any new housing supply and have blocked reasonable ways to boost supply.
But the biggest impediment to solving our housing crisis lies not principally with neighbors protecting their local neighborhoods, but rather with central governments determined to limit, and make ever more expensive, single-family housing. Economist Issi Romem notes that, based on the past, “failing to expand cities [to allow sprawl] will come at a cost” to the housing market.  
A density-only policy tends to raise prices, turning California into the burial ground for the aspirations of the young and minorities. This reflects an utter disregard for most people’s preferences for a single-family home — including millennials, particularly as they enter their 30s.  Read more.

New research supports the conclusion that anti-sprawl policy (urban containment policy) is incompatible with housing affordability. Build-zoom.com economist Issi Romem finds that: “Cities that have curbed their expansion have – with limited exception – failed to compensate with densification. As a result they have produced far less housing than they would otherwise, with severe national implications for housing affordability, geographic mobility and access to opportunity, all of which are keenly felt today as we approach the top of housing cycle.”  

Romem expressed concern to The Wall Street Journal“What you’ll get there is an exacerbation of the problems we already have in expensive cities. The distinction between homeowners and renters will become less and less a stage of life and more and more if your parents can help you.”  Read more 

How are my creepy friends?

The Creepies Are Still Here.

My spider and bot visitors are still present in the same numbers and pattern as I reported last week: Roughly 30 hits per instance, spaced at regular intervals, 5x day, 7 days a week. 
Persistent little buggers! 

My bad relations will eventually tire of me and go bug someone else after the election when all the fun is over.  Or not.  As long as money and slime are present in LO, creepies will grow.  Hopefully this is just a seasonal infestation and the creepies' growth conditions will dissipate.  I'll keep you posted.

Just one more reminder about how intense and critical this election is.   If this blog is being monitored, you can kiss your thoughts of a purely local election goodby.

Government faulted for high cost of housing

While citing land use laws as a culprit for high housing costs on New York and San Francisco, the author failed to mention the impacts of those cities' housing regulations - rent control - that exacerbate shortages of housing supply, the attraction of a strong economy in those areas which causes a greater demand by in-migration, and demographics - the two largest generational bulges in world history competing for housing at the same time.

Easy credit caused a real estate boom in the early 2000s and took rental housing out of the market as apartments converted to condos. (Apartment owners were left with high vacancy rates and plummeting income as renters rushed into the housing market, but government was not offering reverse-rent control then!) The subsequent market bust left a shortage of lenders, buyers, investors and builders to satisfy the pent-up demand for housing units. A perfect storm was created for housing shortages and price increases. Only one factor - the birth rate bulge of the 50s and 60s and 80s and 90s - that wasn't caused by government's interference in the housing market.  (Read article below for other government causes of housing shortages and high prices.).

Solutions are not simple, but most government agencies are not capable of figuring out the long-term consequences of their fixes.  Urban, progressive municipalities and State and Federal programs tend to want to control the outcome of the market to further some notion of "economic and social justice."  The results are usually wasteful and don't work - rent control, inclusionary zoning, and public housing being the worst.  Private entities, responding to market demand, do housing better - without subsidies.

Temporarily subsidizing those in need and staying out of the housing market does more to stimulate a growth in housing supply than trying to solve housing problems directly.  Increased supply is the only long-term solution to high housing costs.

Politicians get elected to "solve" problems, but can't bring themselves to believe they are not smart enough nor powerful enough to control economic markets and human nature.  Bureaucrats and unions congratulate themselves for being generous and kind, and at the same time are guaranteed a never-ending pool of customers.  It's a hideous Merry-Go-Round of dependency at taxpayer expense - but the real harm is to the clients themselves who are trapped in government-assistance hell.

USC NOTE:  USC is an apartment owner and has extensive knowledge and experience in the Portland-area rental market.

Wall Street Journal, October 18, 2016, By Laura Kusito
New Culprit for Income-Inequality: Land-Use Regulations
Trend of income gap between poorest and richest states steadily closing is upended by growth in regulations

De­vel­oper Patrick Kennedy wants to build apart­ments for mid­dle-class fam­i­lies near San Fran­cis­co’s Fi­nan­cial Dis­trict, but he is struggling to win the city’s ap­proval. The prob­lem: in one spot the building’s court­yard is 5 feet too nar­row.

Mr. Kennedy said his ef­forts con­stantly run up against such ob­sta­cles, which he said drive up the cost of con­struc­tion and make it nearly im­pos­si­ble to build any­thing but lux­ury hous­ing in one of the nation’s most ex­pensive mar­kets.

In this year’s elec­tion, can­di­dates have fo­cused blame for ris­ing in­come in­equal­ity on broad economic forces, from glob­aliza­tion to the de­cline of the Amer­i­can man­u­fac­tur­ing base. But a growing body of re­search sug­gests a more or­di­nary fac­tor: the price of the av­er­age sin­gle-fam­ily home for sale, from Fair­field, Conn., to Portland, Ore.

Mov­ing to a wealth­ier area in search of job op­portu­ni­ties has his­tor­i­cally been a way to pro­mote economic equal­ity, al­lowing work­ers to pur­sue higher-pay­ing jobs elsewhere. But those wage gains lose their ap­peal if they are eaten up by higher hous­ing costs. The re­sult: More peo­ple stay put and lose out on po­ten­tial higher in­comes.

The typ­i­cal home in New York in 1970 cost 4.5 times as much as the in­come per capita, while a home in Al­abama cost about four times what a typ­i­cal fam­ily made. By 2010, that gap had widened significantly, with a home in New York cost­ing six times what a typ­i­cal fam­ily makes and one in Alabama cost­ing roughly 3.5 times as much.

“There are tra­di­tionally two ways to change your fate—get an ed­u­ca­tion or move to a higher-wage part of the coun­try,” Mr. Shoag said. “The sec­ond chan­nel isn’t re­ally available be­cause the prices make that a bad deal.”

Data from home-price tracker Zil­low show that wealth­ier ar­eas are do­ing a poor job of rem­e­dy­ing the im­bal­ances. San Fran­cisco and New York City, for ex­am­ple, built just one unit for every four adults who moved there be­tween 2010 and 2014. San Diego added 15 adults for every unit of hous­ing.
USC NOTE:  San Franscisco, New York and San Diego all have Rent Control laws that discourage new construction of housing units; Housing shortages raise the prices of all other housing in the city and nearby jurisdictions. 
 While it is likely the U.S. as a whole would ben­e­fit from mak­ing it eas­ier for lower-in­come res­i­dents to move to wealth­ier cities, that doesn’t mean wealth­ier cities like San Fran­cisco and New York would be bet­ter off. Build­ing large amounts of new hous­ing threat­ens to de­stroy the dis­tinct hous­ing stock that has helped make these cities ap­peal­ing in the first place.

“Most of those reg­u­lations aren’t just crazy. They’re there to main­train a sense of iden­tity that people care about,” said Vishaan Chakrabarti, founder of Prac­tice for Ar­chi­tec­ture & Ur­ban­ism, a New York ar­chi­tec­ture firm.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Talking about pavement tonight at the City Council Mtg.

Pavement Condition Index (PCI)  

Report to be studied at tonight's City Council Session.

When politicians brush off heavy infrastructure spending in favor of investing in visions of a better future, or compromising their way to a middling patchwork of fixes, a slide from a good to a poor PCI is inevitable.  

Many roads are "basically beyond salvage."

  • In order to bring the entire roadway system in the optimal PCI range of low to mid 80’s, the pavement rehabilitation program would need to spend $80 million over the next five years. The reason for this high cost is that many of our streets have deteriorated to the point that full reconstruction is necessary, at a high unit cost.
  • At the current investment rate (as planned in the Capital Improvement Plan), the PCI is expected to go down. 

  • A new set of scenarios was run to consider how to bring each individual functional classification (i.e. arterial, collector, residential) up to a PCI of 70. This approach would focus on spending more money on residential and collectors over the next five years. It would require a higher investment rate than is currently planned for in our CIP, but one that is potentially doable, especially if the county gas tax ballot measure passes. Reaching a 70 PCI goal will still leave many streets in a poor or very poor condition (we’ll have color-coded maps at the study session). But there is less urgency for them, since they are basically beyond salvage.

    1. Pavement Management & Budget Options Report – Capitol Assets – Draft, September 2016 

Several Mayoral and City Council candidates will be hearing the newest report on the PCI tonight.  Let's see if they will be true to their campaign promises to value our infrastructure!  (Or maybe it was a bicycle path they were talking about.).  What needs to give in the budget to allow our expensive road system to survive?  

LO Campaign Activity updates

The 2016 Race
If name recognition is the sport, what is the score?  
If policies matter, what have the contestants been telling you? 

  • There are 25,730 registered voters in Lake Oswego (2014)
  • Approximately 90% of registered voters voted in the 2014 General Election (about 23,157 total)
  • 51.02% of Lake Oswego voters are Democrats
  • 46.79% are Republicans
  • 2.77% are Independent
City of Lake Oswego, Best Places website

Costs per vote
How much will each candidate spend per vote based on contributions received to date?
  • If 51% of likely voters voted for Studebaker for Mayor, he would have spent $2.84 per vote.
  • If Dave Berg got 51% of likely voters, he would have spent $0.51 per vote.  
  • If Jon Gustafson received all Of the likely Democrat votes, he would have spent $2.06 per vote.Council Candidates' contributions equate to a high of $1.72 per vote for Theresa Kohlhoff, to a low of $0.37 for Skip O'Neill.  
What is the right amount to spend on local elections?  Do candidates need professional political consultants and slick branding and marketing services to woo you?  Are you that hard to woo, or is their message very ugly?  Do they need generous outside funding as we see in the 3 best-funded campaigns?  Or should the job be done with wise spending and grass roots contributions like Dave Berg's campaign?  The answers make a difference as they indicate who a candidate is and how he or she will perform once in office.  It's all up to you.  If the high-rollers are rewarded, we will get more of the same next time, and so on.

We have to wait until the election is over and all the votes are in and campaign accounting is finalized to see what's what, but here is a snapshot of where each candidate is today. Remember, all these figures can change from one day to the next, depending upon reporting deadlines.

Stats as of 10/17/2016:

Campaigns for Mayor
Kent Studebaker 
Expenses...................... 9,847

Jon Gustafson
Balance.......................  9,060

Dave Berg
Contributions............$  6,037
Expenses...................... 1,342
Balance........................ 4,695

Campaigns for City Council
Theresa Kohlhoff
Balance........................ 8,122

John LaMotte
Expenses...................... 9,288
Balance........................ 4,869

Charles Collins
Contributions............$  8,975
Expenses...................... 7,090
Balance........................ 1,885

William "Skip" O'Neill
Contributions............$  4,375
Expenses...................... 3,279
Balance........................ 1,096

Monday, October 17, 2016

Two peas in a partisan pod

The other Democrat running for a 
position in Lake Oswego:
Theresa Kohlhoff for City Council 

In her own words and actions, Kohlhoff has indicated she has a strong affiliation with the Democratic Party and as brought it into play in her bid for a seat on the Lake Oswego City Council.

Why this is bad:  It does not matter what political party a candidate does or does not belong to, but elected offices in the city are all nonpartisan.  Getting help from the Democratic Party in money, membership lists and organizing assistance is going beyond the spirit of nonpartisanship.  Being nonpartisan means remaining above the divisiveness of the party system in order to better represent ALL of the citizens of our city.

Two candidates are turning to the Democrat Party machine for help this year:  Jon Gustafson and
Theresa Kohloff.  Kohlhoff is an attorney and Gustafson is experienced in local politics, and both have an experienced political machine to guide them, so the paractice is probably LEGAL, but that doesn't make it RIGHT.  Who's agenda does Kohlhoff represent?  What does she know of the hearts and minds of Lake Oswegans?

With both candidates and other party members contributing to the new Friends of Lake Oswego PAC, this looks like a practice that is sure to continue.  (Perhaps the FOLO PAC organizers believe party affiliations can be disguised in this manner, but that would be very hard to do.)

Who is Theresa Kohlhoff?

It appears that few outside her circle of friends know much about Theresa Kohlhoff - which government or civic positions she has held, what involvement she has had with Lake Oswego government and supporting committees and commissions, and so on.  Kohlhoff's financial backbone comes not from local residents, but from outsiders.  A quick search of the LO website yields nothing save for her election registration. As someone who wants to be a City Councilor, Kohlhoff's interest in local politics seems to be very recent, and her representation and agenda suspect.  (More about the Democratic agenda later.)

To my knowledge, and after many years of involvement in City government, my friends and I have never seen Kohlhoff at a City Council meeting or a Planning Commission meeting (both videotaped and shown on TV).  I have never seen or heard her name listed on any of the City's boards or commissions or stakeholder advisory committees.
  • Kohlhoff's bio says she has been "active in the community" but does not say in what capacity. (Kohlhoff's Voters Pamphlet bio lists 2 civic experiences - one for the Oregon Bar, and other for an OHSU advisory committee.)
  • Her Facebook bio lists her as a graduate of the Emerge program training for Democrat women seeking public office. (See below)
  • Her main contributors are not from Lake Oswego but are chiefly lawyers who live elsewhere in the Metro area.  
  • She is an enthusiastic supporter of Jon Gustafson.
  • Principal local endorsements include Democrats Jon Gustafson, Joe Buck and Judie Hammerstad.  (More peas in that crowded pod.)
From Kohlhoff's Facebook Page:
"Kohlhoff wants to address our infrastructure and service needs, further housing and transporta-tion opportunities for a wider range of citizens, and work towards an efficient, responsible but also generous Lake Oswego. With her 36 years of experience being an attorney, small business owner, and a mother and grandmother, Kohlhoff brings her skills in analysis, problem solving, advocacy and negotiation to the Lake Oswego City Council.
Theresa will fight for our city, and ensure that our infrastructure, service and civic needs are met."

Emerge: "IT'S MY Party And I'll RUN if I Want To"
General Information
Emerge Oregon recruits, educates and inspires Democratic women to pursue elective office. We make a long-term investment in these future leaders by honing their political skills, expanding their knowledge of local issues, and connecting them with mentors.
Emerge Oregon recruits, trains and inspires women to run for elected office and engage in public policy and politics.