Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Is Portland Leading the Way for Foothills Development

To All COLA LO members,  

A recent publication shows the Portland vision for housing and it looks a lot like Foothills.    The publication has be interpreted as very anti-detached housing which has been a strong element of the Foothills plan and marketed by our own city council as an affordable way for aging residents to move out of their large homes.  
The official piece by the City Of Portland can be found at Where You Live.

The online blog comments present the official city position as positively Orwellian and can be found here The Next Car Haters target.    

One can only wonder if Foothills will follow in this policy direction as advocated by many of the current City Council members recommend.   The proposal is for high density residences with several stories of living space just like those proposed and developed in Portland.    The concept is they would be more affordable and many would need to be subsidized to comply with section VIII requirements.   

One has to wonder if the days of the large single family detached home are being phased out for Seniors aging in place by large utility rate increases and property tax increases even as home values decline.    This City Council has shown little interest in tax or rate relief for its citizens.  

The ongoing Portlandification by policy and spending of Lake Oswego will certainly be an issue on the minds of voters in the upcoming 2012 elections as residents choose a new Mayor and three City Councilors.  

It will be a very interesting year as LO adjusts to the changes in our community brought about by policies that are driven by influences from Portland. 

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.  

North Anchor purchase Announcement Draws Ire of Voter Comments.

To all COLA LO Members and Friends,

This past week the City announced the purchase of another property downtown as part of the North Anchor project.   The article and announcement can be found at:  City Secures Second Property.  

The decision without any public input continues to make members of the community quite upset.  

Earlier in 2011,  the city closed a lease/option on the former Lacey's property which was questioned by many in the community due to its cost.  
The property at 525 first street was purchased for $1.18 million.    The price of the last deal was of significant concern to residents who thought it was not only excessive but also had no public input.   The property was 500 first st.

Its just more in the ongoing saga of Urban Renewal expenditures on the East side of LO while the West side residents wonder how the city can justify these expenditures in a difficult economy.   

At the same time a local blogger claims that the Real Estate Developer that promoted the Streetcar is not done with Lake Oswego yet.   The blog post can be found at:   Not Through with Lake O Yet?

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Conflicting Opinions on City Council 2011 Accomplishments

To All COLA LO Members,

Last week two articles in the LO Review focused on the accomplishments of the current City Council in 2011.    They gave conflicting assessments of the performance of the council and the direction moving into the current election year.  

Both articles also attracted substantial online comment from the community at large given the recent announcements by several officials that they would be leaving their positions in 2012.  

Councilor Sally Moncrieff submitted an article: Council Accomplished a lot  while former council candidate Dan Williams also submitted an article:  2011 Issues Still Loom.   Its fair to say that there is substantial disagreement on the performance of the council in 2011.    Both articles have online comment form the community so the reader can evaluate the online views.  

Its also fair to state that Councilor Moncrieffs article produced more diverse opinion on council performance in 2011 than did Dan Williams opinion piece.   This may in large be due to Councilor Moncrieffs incumbent status on the Council and her decision not to run for reelection in 2012.  

Either way the two pieces show a widely divergent view of council performance within the city and the frustration many residents share regarding the agenda of the council in 2011.  It will be interesting to see how the new agenda for 2012 is developed and implemented given the history of this administration.  

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fun in City Politics?

To all COLA LO Members,

This week several letters to the editor of the Review had a variety of opinions on issues.  One entertaining letter asked "who put the fun in city politics?".   The letter provided a perspective from one citizen that was asking for clarification based on a recent comment by Councilor Jordan.  

The text of the letter includes:

I just read where city government should be “fun,” at least according to (Lake Oswego city councilor) Donna Jordan.
Until the last election I suppose it was all happiness surround the tone-deaf council. I don’t believe that anyone ever equated any position within a city government (with) the word “fun” listed under expectations? City government is and should be considered work and at times difficult and sometimes contentious in dealing with the variety of subjects that come before it. But to call it fun, never!
Maybe that’s the problem? We have had for a long time a council that demonstrated a closed-minded, we-know-better attitude that ignored both public input as well as common sense when it came to projects and expenditures. What we had was a group of individuals who believed in aggrandizement over public need.

Doesn’t that just set the table for a large divide between interests? And now that the tide has changed staff and elected position personnel begin to bale like lemmings, confused and bewildered.
Perhaps councilwoman Jordan and her Pollyanna attitude should join them because moving forward, the new council is not going to play by her rules made so obvious by her comments and now she doesn’t want them to play or have “fun” in her sandbox.

The letter can be found at the following link:  Fun in city politics? 

It will be interesting to see how the City council functions in 2012 given the issues and the relative ownership of decisions made by those members that have announced they will not seek re-election.   Accountability will be key to ensuring that our representatives make correct decisions.

Please notify all members contacts and friends.  

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

City Councilor Claims LO Property Tax Rate Can be Reduced

To All COLA LO Members, 

Last week city Councilor Jeff Gudman published an article in the Review advocating a reduction in the property tax rate.   The purpose he claims is to offset the increasing cost of water bills within the city.   The article can be found at Taxes can be reduced.   In the article councilor gudman states:

Decreasing the city property tax rate by 3 percent or $0.15 decreases potential general fund revenue by approximately $750,000. Due to excellent staff management, the city’s general fund came in better than budget by $3.7 million in 2009/2010 and $2.8 million in 2010/2011. With better budgeting, the city can mitigate $750,000 in forgone property tax revenue and still “bank” money for future projects. Decreasing the city property tax rate by 3 percent or $0.15 per thousand dollars of tax assessed value still results in more city revenue from all sources than the previous year.

This is an interesting concept as city residents continue to complain about the ever increasing costs of water bills and the approved increase of 22% which is scheduled to go into effect in March.   Residents have been deeply impacted by the ever increasing water rates in the community, especially our senior residents on fixed incomes. 

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Blogs Claim Oregonian Coverage of the LO Political Scene is "whining"

To All COLA LO Members,

This past weekend a blogger identified the latest reporting by the Oregonian local reporter as purely love of the "Streetcar Whiners".   Over the weekend the local Oregonian reporter released an article on the LO political environment calling it "ugly". 

It generally communicated a "pro" stance for the members of the council and manager that have decided to either leave or not seek reelection in 2012.  Many are now saying it is part of the ongoing "spin"  of the situation that has occurred in LO over the past four years.

We leave it to the reader to decide.  

The article in the Oregonian Driving Lake Oswego Officials Away has drawn substantial criticism from residents online who perceive it to be a PR piece rather than investigative journalism.    The online comments can be found on the link above.   

The Blog posting has made the following statement on the article:

"We've been complaining a lot lately about all the editorializing on the "news" pages of the Oregonian, but this is really ridiculous. Now that the wishes of the vast majority of Lake Oswego residents have finally been heeded by the local politicians -- they've killed off the insane plan for a streetcar to Portland -- suddenly several of the developer pimps have quit city government and started making speeches about how "ugly" the city's politics have become. And the O reporter just laps up the whining and prints it."

It can be found at the following link:  Streetcar Whiners  including a large number of comments posted by LO residents and rebuttals.   Its further proof that divisions and spin are dominating the local politics and the real concerns of the community may again be largely ignored before the 2012 election..

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Good Neighbors Sue?

To All COLA LO Members,

Last week it was announced that the City of Lake Oswego has filed suit against West Linn property Owners to remove covenants and restrictions on properties.    The lawsuit filed will remove restrictions used within the neighborhood so that the City can expand its water plant.   

The legal costs are being paid for with taxpayer funds including our ever increasing utiltiy bills for water and sewer. 

An article in the Review with online  comment can be found at:  Lake Oswego Files Court Action

Many in the community believe this part of an ongoing philosophy by the current administration to aggressively erode private property rights within our community and now our neighbors.  

We leave this up to individual voters to decide but its clearly a move that will not promote goodwill with neighboring property owners.  

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Political "Spin" begins on the Departures of Mayor & Others

To All COLA LO Members,
Yesterday the political spin began on the recent decisions of the Mayor and one Councilor not to run for election in 2012 and the decision by the City Manager to leave next month.   

To most citizens its pretty clear that the direction and priorities have been out of sync with the community for at least the past three years consistent with the tenures of both the City Manager and the Mayor.   

The "spin" machine is playing up the divisiveness within the community and playing down the fact that the overall community is deeply concerned about the direction of this administration and the city in general.   Its part of a campaign to set the playing field for "approved" candidates that may carry on the legacy projects and priorities within the community.   

Unfortunately it doesn't address the absence of trust in local officials right now as we proceed through 2012 and continue into the election process.  

The Oregonian article can be found at:  Political Divisions

The online comments in this and other articles provides some insight into the positions of the voters and local residents regarding the "spin"   versus resolving core issues within the community.  

The related announcement can be found in the following article:  Will Not Run.  Related articles on prospective candidates can be found at MacPherson Pondering and Regime Change.

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.   

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Details on Ballot Measure & Signature Gathering for County Petition 3-392

To All COLA LO Members,

Last week the community was notified of a new citizen driven effort to place a ballot measure before all Clackamas County voters.   The new ballot measure was designated 3-392 and would require a countywide public vote on all expenditures for mass transit, including staff time.  

At the same time it now appears that local citizens in Milwaukie are also proposing a ballot initiative require a vote on light rail project expenditures.   Milwaukie Residents Anti-light Rail Proposal.    This is a dramatic escalation in citizen driven initiatives within clackamas county.   

One local blogger has taken to calling the efforts over the past year as a citizen driven revolt against local and regional government raising taxes and spending on large projects.    He claims that its also a revolt over local government allowing special interest groups to take over the direction and priorities of their efforts in conjunction with those in Portland. 

The blogger has taken to using the term Clackistani Rebels  to reflect the level of disdain and revolt within the community at large in Clackamas County.   

It will be interesting to see if either of both of these efforts provide sufficient signatures to be on the ballot in 2012.    Please notify all members, contacts, and friends. 

Lake Access - The Issue Continues

To All COLA LO Members,

This week the ongoing saga of public access  to Oswego Lake continues in the press and in the efforts of the Hoffman Administration.    A recent article in the LO Review outlines a group now convening to look at public access to the lake as part of the comprehensive plan.   The article can be found at:  Lake Access Group and details the deliberations and process.  

A second article by a local law professor appeared today in the review claiming a position that the Lake is public property and calling access by private property owners "monopolization" End Monopolization.  

Per the Lake Access Article:

"The work group is made up of four volunteers from the comprehensive plan citizen advisory committee. They will analyze public input received so far on the lake access issue and consider whether it fits within the comprehensive plan update or would be part of a different process.
City neighborhood planner Sarah Selden stressed that the group’s purpose is not to consider whether to provide lake access to the public, but instead to look at whether that question should be considered during work on the comprehensive plan.
Recommendations are expected at an upcoming meeting of the entire citizen advisory committee.
The work group will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18, at Lake Oswego City Hall, 380 A Ave. "

The Lake Corp has stated its position that the lake is private.    Many in the community are now questioning if this direction and priority is another poorly directed attempt by the current administration to set up a legal battle which will cost taxpayers millions.  

Online blog comments overwhelmingly are supporting private ownership of the lake and can be seen in the comments to the above article.    Any legal battle would cost both the city of lake oswego and the Lake Corp dearly in terms of fees and only be a further distraction from the services needed within the community.    This is causing to ask about the real priorities of those involved.  

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hoffman, Moncrieff and McIntyre are out!

To all COLA LO Members,

Today the announcements came for decisions which many of us knew already within the COLA organization.  Mayor Hoffman has announced he will not run for re-election,  Councilor Moncrieff also announced she will not run for reelection.   
The only minor surprise was the departure of City Manager Alex McIntyre which many assumed might occur after the November 2012 election.    He has taken a position back in California once again.  

Hoffman says No  and McIntyre Leaves.  MacPherson Announces or ?

All of this comes after the streetcar announcement and a serious effort by citizens to mount recall petitions against several members of the council.    It appears many in the community were quite upset and had a enough and candidates are quite aware of the situation.  

It would not be inaccurate to say that these key people have presided over the most divisive administration in city history by promoting a political agenda that was entirely out of touch with the community.    Spending millions of taxpayer funds on projects that were not supported by the community produced such an outrage from a normally quiet community, that significant opposition arose at the grass roots level.  

There are a number of candidates for these positions and the community will continue to evaluate their options as 2012 proceeds.   There is concern that the city does not return to the failed policies under the current administration.  

Oregonian Article Provides Cost Details For Streetcar & Foothills

To All COLA LO Members,

This week the Oregonian released information on the costs to LO taxpayers for both Streetcar and Foothills.   The details are insightful and yet do not fully reflect the total cost of these projects on the community. 

For example in the article: Lake Oswego on the Clock

How much Lake Oswego spent to date planning for redeveloping Foothills
$800,000 to Williams, Dame & White for predevelopment agreement and framework plan
$129,000 to ECONorthwest for financial feasibility study
$929,000 = Total
How much Lake Oswego spent to date planning for a proposed streetcar
$57,000 to Metro for alternatives analysis and refinement phase
$37,000 to TriMet for Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and Federal Transit Administration grant application
$1,500,000 loan to TriMet to produce DEIS
$87,300 to Roger Martin & Associates and Richard Feeney for streetcar consulting work
$25,000 to Portland Streetcar Inc for services of federal lobbyist
$87,500 to TriMet for extending selection of Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) in 2011
$247,500 to TriMet for 2011 streetcar refinement study
$25,000 to Davis Hibbitts Midghall for Streetcar Community Attitudes Survey
$175,000 estimated spent in staff time
$2,241,300 = Subtotal
Funds due: $1,800,000 in Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (MTIP) funds from TriMet for loan reimbursement
In the article the Oregonian Implies that actual costs for streetcar will be lower when the city receives its $1.8 million loan to Tri met back.    It fails to mention that Trimet is in deep finacial trouble and many question if or when the loan will actually be repaid or renegotiated.   Heading Down Trimet's Tracks.
So the net outflow of funds is a Whopping $3.17 million and counting.     This doesnt include staff time or other resources which were diverted to teh projects for the past several years.  
However the real cost is not the millions in taxpayer funds but the loss of trust in the competency of local government to adequately meet the needs of the community and establish clear and congruent viable priorities.  
That is clearly the impact of the direction of the Mayor and Council.   It will be many years before residents faith in local government and transparency will be restored.   
 This is especially true as many believe that the projects have just been put on hold until after the 2012 election due to a growing recall movement within the community and public outrage at wasted taxpayer dollars on projects that had little public support.  
Only time will tell the true story and the intentions of the parties involved.   
Real Time Analytics