Thursday, December 26, 2013

City Council Townhall in January

To All COLA LO Members,

Next month the City Council will hold a Town hall event at the WEB.     Its an opportunity for all members and citizens to provide input to the council for their 2014 goal setting efforts.  

Most COLA board members attended the initial council session last January  where testimony provided several hours of input from citizens in the community.  

The details on the event are:

                                   Council Open House and Community Reception
Open House/Community Reception 
5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Willamette Room at the West End Building
Wednesday, January 8.  

We encourage all COLA members to attend and provide your perspective on the needs of the community.   This event marks the end of the first year of this new council and may impact their agenda for 2014 and beyond.   

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Is Support for the Current Administration Crumbling?

To All COLA LO Members,

It seems that residents continue to be agitated over decisions made by the current city council.   Across the city many leaders are questioning the stance taken by this administration regarding density and development.   Its a surprising time for many who thought they voted in a council that would implement deep reforms in the direction of local government.  

Many are now asking if they were snookered in the 2012 election? 

Letters to the editor continue to pour in opposing the Wizer's development project.   These letters while consistent only represent a fraction of the actual number of citizens discussing the direction of the city at this time.   

Is support for the new administration crumbling rapidly?  Many believe it is and they are worried about the impact on the 2014 election only 11 months away....

Will the direction currently implemented by this council pave the way for 3 new city councilors.    We think it might well do that given the conversation in the community.  

Many residents are unhappy with the positions taken by several members of the council.    It seems the council has become very pro high density development despite running on a platform to the contrary.   

We are also observing the emergence of voting blocks that surprised many.     It seems councilor O'Neill is not the conservative he represented during the election.   Often voting with Councilors Gustafson and Jordan.     That's disturbed many in the community, including his supporters.  

One recent example is the effort to save the Carman House.   It failed the city council vote 4 to 3. Councilors Gustafson, O'Neil, and Jordan voted to save it. Mayor Studebaker, along with Councilors Bowerman, Huges, and Gudman voted to demolish the last remaining territorial house in Lake Oswego.  This is  just a recent example of the current voting block patterns.  

As more key votes are taken there will be a well developed record of positions for voters to evaluate long before the 2014 election.  

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Citizens Continue to Criticize Administration's Wizers Stance.

To All COLA LO Members,

Last week several citizens continue to criticize the high density proposed development for the Wizer block which has been approved by the city council.   The council has agreed to provide nearly $6 million in financing to the developer.   

Many of the comments can be found at Reader's Letters.

Its an interesting twist as a council and mayor were elected one year ago on an anti high density platform and yet they are approving a project with high density and urban renewal funds.  

Here are some of the comments from citizens:

Waiting for ‘PLOPP’
Two years ago we heard about the streetcar — how great it would be for Lake Oswego. Fortunately, reason prevailed and the city council (decided not to pursue it). Then, last year we heard about the new library — how badly it was needed. Once again, reason prevailed, and “we, the people” voted that one down.
Now, we hear about the Wizer project, otherwise known as PLOPP (Proposed Lake Oswego Pearl Project). Seems like a good idea, right?
Let’s put more than 200 housing units, more than 400 people, 300 cars and 100 dogs — all in a two-block area. Good plan, right?
As I read the letters in the Lake Oswego Review, I have not kept track. However, it seems to me that those against outnumber those for at least 10 to one. (One remarkable argument in favor was “... because we have been wanting to do something for 10 years.” Now, that’s a really great reason to build this monstrosity.
This project definitely needs to be rethought. The Pearl District is great. We do not, however, need another Pearl in Lake Oswego. Not here, not now, not ever.
Syd Dorn

Hope council listens to those opposing high density
With regard to the proposed Wizer development, it would be great if the city council would abide by the majority view of Lake Oswego citizens, a view that opposes high-density living and increased congestion.
Certainly those who desire a high-density environment can move to downtown Portland or any large metropolitan area. I and others find it repugnant when government officials act in a paternal manner, dictating how we must change our living conditions to comply with their more “enlightened” view. 
One of the great things about LO is its unique quality of life. Let’s not sacrifice that wonderful quality in a quest for increased development and greater tax revenues.
Bill Beard

It will be interesting to see if the opposition grows and if it has an impact on the elections in 2014.  Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.   

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Planning Commission Gives Administration a Big Turkey for Thanksgiving!

To All COLA LO Members,

In a direct refute of the current City Council the Planning Commission this week voted NO toward changing the zoning of the WEB to general commercial.   

Details can be found in the following article:   Planning Commission Says NO to City Council

The current administration now has egg on its face over the voted sale of the WEB which is contingent upon a rezoning of the area surrounding the WEB.   Its a major blow to the plans of this administration and continues the ongoing rift between planning and the current council.  

Will this administration step in and over ride the planning commission?   Will it attempt to replace Planning commission members, one of whom is currently in a lawsuit against the City of Lake Oswego over public access to the Lake?   

A deep battle is brewing between commission members appointed from prior administrations and the direction of this council.    Its been well known to active community leaders but its now in the public arena.

Is this  a direct challenge to the decisions made by the current administration  or part of an overall plan from the appointees of former mayors Hoffman and Hammerstad?

It sure looks like it and it will be interesting to see how the community reacts to the growing rift between the two functions of local government.  

Stay tuned....


Monday, November 25, 2013

Administration Continues to Receive Criticism from Citizens.

To All COLA LO Members,

This week the current administration continued to receive criticism on its apparent support for high density development in the Wizer block.  A citizen posted the following comment in the LO review.

The details can be found at :  Letters to the editor

‘Contradiction in this presentation’

In the current edition of “Hello L.O.,” Mayor Kent Studebaker informs us that it is the city’s role to ensure that the Wizer block project meets the city’s development code requirements and confirms that an exception would have to be made to allow a fifth story, only to conclude (in) the same article that the ultimate decision maker is Mr. Wizer. 

One needn’t have practiced law to see the contradiction in this presentation. Either the city — a public citizenry of 37,000 people — has the power to refuse exceptions to the code through its elected officials or that power lies with a single property holder. 
During the mayor’s campaign last year, he wrote: “Redevelopment, growth and zoning should preserve and enhance the character of Lake Oswego and none should damage the rights of citizens. ... (T)he city ... should not confuse wise development with increased density in our neighborhoods.”
Those of us who put up yard signs in support of the mayor’s candidacy anticipated that his governing would champion those values, not that he would try to dampen the ardor of Lake Oswegans to protect the character of the city with a shoulder-shrugging misstatement that there was nothing we could do to halt a code-busting decision because that decision lies wholly in the hands of one individual.
Recalling the behind-closed-doors decision making that led to the West End Building fiasco, Lake Oswegans expressed their will against railroading development schemes in last year’s election, which changed the complexion of the city council. But that was not enough. Protection of the city’s interests in protecting — if not further strengthening — existing code requirements calls for active citizen involvement in December’s Development Review Commission hearing and whatever else it takes to protect our city as the Wizer block project grinds to a determination.
John Teton
Lake Oswego

Instead of streetcar, we are facing high density
I had high hopes for our city when voters selected a new mayor and council last fall. 

But it seems only the names have been changed.
Now instead of a streetcar, we get a high-density apartment building in the very heart of Lake Oswego. We get 400 to 500 new residents (and their pets) with no place to park. We get a massive five-story structure on a block zoned for three stories. And we get a substantial influx of cars in an already-crowded city center.
I, for one, do not want my tax dollars subsidizing this project. Many of us have been looking forward to the redevelopment of the Wizer block. But this is not what we had in mind.
Barbara Eden
Lake Oswego

Mayor, council asked to ‘honor campaign promises’

I’m appealing to Mayor Kent Studebaker and the city council to honor their campaign promises of preserving Lake Oswego as a small town with a “village-like” character and to oppose high-density infill.

These promises all conflict with Block 137 design. It appears to me that the developer’s interests have become more important to you than the concerns of your constituents.
Although many of us have supported Wizer’s for many years, I would venture a guess that many customers who are angry about this development as planned, might prefer to take their business elsewhere.
Joanne Sedleniek
Lake Oswego

It seems the community is wondering which direction it took in the last election?

Is the current administration meeting its commitments or allowing others to dictate the agenda?   Many in the community are asking this question and the outcome of key decisions will certainly provide insight into the facts.  

Please notify all members contacts and friends.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

COLA Board Member Asks "Will the Streetcar Return with Wizers?"

To All COLA LO Members,

This week Board Member Gary Gipson released an insightful article on the Wizers property development and identified supporters articles in a unique way.   It seems many of those supporting the Wizer development also happen to be the same supporters of the streetcar project. 

Is the Wizer development really a "backdoor"  method to resurrecting high density and the streetcar into downtown Lake Oswego?  

Its an interesting premise and one citizens are deeply concerned about as opposition to the high density development mounts within the community.  

Will a city council elected to prevent such incursion of density into our community actually approve and fund the project with $5-6 million in Urban renewal funds?

Many continue to ask what is really going on here?  

The article can be found at Is Wizer's the return of the Streetcar?

Is the current council being snookered or are they really supportive of high density and the future return of a streetcar project which will fundamentally change the community.  

Many citizens continue to wonder.  

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Will Lake Oswego Now Pay Double Taxes For Roads?

To All COLA LO Members,

In a little known effort the Clackamas County Commissioners have had their staff evaluate adding to the already high Lake Oswego Street Maintenance fee.

 This fee is charged on water bills of residents throughout LO.  

The COLA Board has been monitoring this effort and Board members have attended meetings with several county commissioners informing them of the potential for "double taxation" of LO residents and other cities where the city has a road program in place.   

It seems the county commission is bent on imposing another tax even if LO residents already pay one.   That's not a fair system but its designed to once again impose a new taxation tool on residents.  City Councilor Donna Jordan has sat on the C4 committee evaluating proposals for several years.  

The effort was just made public in an article in the Oregonian.   Commissioners Launch Road Campaign.

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends and the COAL board will continue to be involved in efforts to ensure LO residents are not "double taxed".  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Again Citizen Questions the Council

To All COLA LO Members,

This week another article was published questioning the councils current direction.   

It exemplifies what many are now saying privately in the community.    In the article below many hear the echo of a common refrain spoken amongst residents throughout LO.     

The article and others below can be found at Reader letters

‘What is the present plan’ for Lake Oswego?
The mayor and council members show great glee and are patting themselves on the back for finally disposing of the practically empty 89,000-square-foot West End Building to end the money drain. I would pat them on the back too if I thought this was part of a long-range city plan, which it isn’t.
The former council thought nothing of spending more than $40 million of taxpayers’ money to build a new 60,000-square-foot library and multistory garage at the far east end of town, when they could have saved $20 million by moving to an upgraded WEB with a large parking lot and near the city’s center of population.
What is the present plan? Not to move the library? Or place the library in an empty school? Or spend $40 million to move it to another eastside location? Same with the city hall. What’s the plan, and how much will it cost us?
Will it be another whopping expenditure like the $115 million water plant we don’t need, that brings in water that is polluted frequently with gasoline, over very costly river and city crossings, when abundant, cheap, Willamette River water is a few blocks away?
Voters preferred not to fund the WEB for an unwanted $80 million recreation center, and polls of certain voters chose not to keep an empty WEB. So? The city should first formulate its long- range plan and poll voters of the entire city (not just eastside residents) to determine if they want to use the WEB to replace crowded facilities cheaply. William Barbat

Will the council pivot its direction or will it continue on its current path?   Many in the community are wondering and asking themselves about the nature of recent decisions.    Its a growing concern within the community as many residents are beginning to feel slightly betrayed.

 How much of an impact will all this have on the election in 12 months?    Only time will tell but its clear residents have strong feelings regarding the matter.  

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.     

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Citizens are Now Questioning the Council on their Election Promises?

To All COLA LO Members,

Its all now out in the open!!!

As most of us know there has been a growing number of members and residents that have been questioning the actions of several council members.    Its been coming from a broad variety of interest groups and residents for many months.   Many are asking if this is really the council they voted for under the mantle of "change".   

Well this week it seems the gloves are now being taken off and citizens are publicly stating the common concern expressed in hushed tones in many corridors, throughout the city of Lake Oswego.   

This week a citizen published an article that clearly challenges the council to meet their promises.  

In STOP THIS......You Promised a resident makes specific challenges to the administration and the council.    they include the following:

  • Mayor Studebaker, here are your words: “I am committed to preserving ... Lake Oswego” and to “prevent high density infill.”
  • Mr. Mayor, you said on July 11, 2012, “Lake Oswego is a great place, I’d like to make sure we maintain that quality and character of the town. This is a wonderful town, which can move forward in a way that the majority of citizens can embrace.”
  • This council believes it knows better than its constituents what is best for our city. Over and over citizens stated we want to maintain our village character calling for two- or three-story buildings.
  • Mr. Mayor and council, we put you in office because you pledged that you would protect LO from high density and preserve LO’s character. Your constituents do not consider this to be a frivolous matter that will be forgotten. We vote

Its been clear to many members that the political capital gained by this council since the 2012 election has been slowly evaporating and many couldn't understand the direction of priorities imposed since the year began.   Now its become public and it will be interesting to see if the council pivots or continues on its merry way.  

Only time will tell but its clear that 12 months before an election, the electorate isn't as happy as many thought they would be. 

 The reasons why are very clear after only one year under the current administration and what many perceive as not meeting the commitments upon which several officials were elected. 

The question is will another year lead to another dramatic change on the council?   Will citizens begin to famously say in public the lines often pictured in this graphic?

Please notify all members contacts and friends.  

Thursday, November 7, 2013

LOSD LEVY Passes By Wide Margin.

To All COLA LO Members,

The LOSD Levy passed by a huge margin Tuesday showing a broad level of support for the operating levy within Lake Oswego.    Despite initial concerns that the public may not embrace the levy, they did with a strong endorsement of support. 

COLA Board member Dave Berg wrote an article for the review specifically requesting that the community show overwhelming support and why it should.   

The article can be found at A Big "Thank You"

In it Berg established that the support for LOSD is strong because the demographics are so unique in Lake Oswego.  This is due to the exceptionally high level of education within our community.   However the fact that this was an existing levy and did not increase taxes also worked favorably for the measure.    Huge Margin

Overall the community benefits from the strong and wide level of support represented by the success of this vote.   It sends a very concise message that LO supports education and prospective residents will most certainly be aware that this is a core element of our "community character".

Please notify all members, contacts and friends.   

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Citizen Claims Council Needs to "Fix Our Streets"

To All COLA LO Members,

Last week a citizen published an article in the review questioning the direction the council has taken regarding its commitment to street maintenance and the decision to purchase $1.7 million in LED street lights.    The article provides insight into the process and history of decision making on this council.  

The article:  Fix Our Streets  establishes some history in terms of the decision making.   At the same time the review published an article supporting the decision on street lights Retrofits Brighten.

Citizens are confused and COLA members have heard very strong opinions on the decision.    It will be interesting to see if the council addresses those concerns or retrofits rather than paving the way.   

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

Will Property Tax Increases Impact the Local Option Levy Vote?

To All COLA LO Members,

It seems residents may be up in arms as they receive their annual property tax statements in the mail this week.   The Oregonian is reporting residents are receiving big surprises as taxes increase dramatically in some counties in the Portland area.   

The article Surprising Local Property Taxes discloses quite a few large increases around the area as residents continue to grapple with the "great recession" and stagnant incomes. 

 Many of the increases are due to voter approved tax levy issues like the local option in Lake Oswego Measure 3-434 but cover libraries, schools, etc.    It seems residents in Portland are just waking up to the actual cost of these voter approved taxes.  

The details in the online comments are quite insightful and show a growing resentment for the cost of the increases, even though they were voter approved!    Many are questioning the long term affordability of the region given the increased taxes on homeowners.   

Its an interesting level of insight into the mindset of voters and homeowners in the region.  

Please notify all members contacts and friends.   

Saturday, October 26, 2013

COLA Board Member Testifies on $1.7 million LED Lighting Project

To All COLA LO Members,

This past week Board Member Dave Luck testified before the city council asking it to delay any  LED conversion project.    Dave used his technical expertise in the renewable energy industry to  question the assumptions and cost savings presented by city staff.  

An article in the Oregonian prominently features Dave Luck's comments and the councils actions.   It can be found at Council Approves.  

The details of the decision were interesting as many members of the public testified against the project stating there were higher priorities.   Still the council approve the project and committed taxpayer funds to it.  

It will be interesting to see if the voters view this allocation of taxpayer funds differently in the Fall.   

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.   

Thursday, October 24, 2013

City Council Decisions Creating a Renewed "Clackastani Rebellion" in Lake Oswego?

To All COLA LO Members,

COLA continues to receive quite a few comments from concerned citizens regarding city council decisions.   It seems a renewed level of concern is amassing in LO these days.    Its surprising given the results of the 2012 election and what many thought would be a "reform" council.   

Tuesday evening the council voted 4-2 to approve $1.7 million in funding for streetlights after staff disclosed they could not meet plans to improve streets.   Yet at the same time they have decided to widen streets generating a petition drive which will likely require a "special election".  Details can be found in a recent article Special Election Challenge.  

The council's decision to enter into an agreement with $5+ million in taxpayer funds to develop the Wizer block with high density residential rentals is now creating organized opposition to their position.  It seems the new group "save our village"   is gaining wide support in the community.  

Many in the city are now questioning if this council is meeting the promises it made during the 2012 and 2010 elections?   Will this have an impact on the 2014 election outcome?    We believe it will at this point, especially if residents continue to organize in opposition to the councils direction.   

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends....

Friday, October 18, 2013

Is the Wizer Block The New WEB?

To All COLA LO Members.

Over the past two Months residents have observed the city council deliberate and enter into an agreement to redevelop the Wizer block.    Debate hasn't been very spirited initially which surprised many given the size of the development and its potential impact on the downtown area.

 In large part this may be due to the absence of involvement by the very engaged groups on the west side of Lake Oswego which is the geographic center of LO.  

However after approval of the agreement and subsequent investment by the city of a whopping $5-6 million in taxpayer funds, it seems the downtown neighborhoods are waking up.   

A new group has formed called "save our village".   It appears they are engaging aggressively in opposition to the project.   Details can be found in Opposition to Wizer Block.  

Leaders of Save Our Village include Lita Schiel Grigg, Leslie Pirrotta and Tana Haynes.    it will be interesting to see if they can substantially impact the development or if its essentially a done deal as many perceive at this point with the city investing millions in funds.    

Many residents are now questioning the nature of this city council given they were elected as a "reform" council specifically to limit spending on high density urban renewal projects.   

Will these decisions have an impact on the 2014 election in only 13 months?  We think so but only time will tell.  

Please notify all members contacts and friends. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The White Elephant is Gone! Maybe?

To All COLA LO Members,

Last night after extensive discussion the LO City Council Voted 6-1 to Sell the West End Building to the Kensington Group for $16.5 million.    Thus taking the first step toward ending a flawed decision made by the Hammerstad administration over 7 years ago.   

After wasting nearly $ 9 million in taxpayer funds in operating costs and potentially another $4 million in selling at a price lower than the $20 million originally paid, this debacle may be coming to an end.   Its still far off but the step was taken to enter into a sales agreement last night.    Only Councilor Gustafson voted against selling the WEB.  

Easily the most divisive decision in city history, the purchase of the WEB outraged citizens when $20 million in debt was taken on without voter approval.    The building has remained largely empty and under used since purchased.    

The irony was even last night the council admitted they had no idea how they could use the building given the absence of support for paying off the debt with a bond measure throughout the community.  After 7 years the conclusion was that in the absence of a $40-130 million bond for a community center the purchase decision was deeply flawed.   

The council received testimony from one commercial broker who bid on the building against the city and told the council that at the peak of the market they valued the building at $16 million yet then Mayor Hammerstad bid on it at $20 million or a nearly $4 million premium to the experts opinion.  

Taxpayers will not be required to pay for that very poor decision once again.   Its hopefully the end of a very expensive lesson in real estate speculation by city officials.  

Some details can be found at:   Council Votes to Sell WEB?

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.   

Friday, October 4, 2013

Lake Oswego No Longer the Wealthiest City In Clackamas County

To All COLA LO members,

This past week the Oregonian released some stunning information.    Despite many years of having a reputation for being the wealthiest city in the county, Lake Oswego is no longer that wealthy!   In fact it is no longer even in the top 3!  

Its a stunning admission of how far the relative incomes in the city have plunged over time.    It also explains why citizens are so irate over the cost of living and actions of local officials these past few years.  

Despite being the most educated community in the county, Lake Oswego now ranks FOURTH in terms of median household income in Clackamas County.     The details are found in the following Oregonian article No Longer the Wealthiest.  

West Linn actually has a higher median income than Lake Oswego according to the latest statistics.   No wonder residents were upset at the $5.1 million wealth transfer between Lake Oswego and West Linn to build the LO-Tigard Water Project. 

As one online comment stated:   "Congratulations Happy Valley, you're the new Lake Oswego."

Its clear that LO residents have been hard hit by the recession despite their relatively high education.   Its also clear that economic development efforts have not been successful in generating high paying jobs for LO residents.   

Overall these results may be the strongest indictment of the efforts of past administrations.  

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.  

Friday, September 27, 2013

Will Council Appointment Produce an "Ethics Investigation?"

To ALL COLA LO Members,

This week under a cloud of controversy the city council voted 4-1 to appoint a new city councilor.   Several councilors complained about the process during the meeting and one abstained from the vote. 

Most of the discord was generated by allegations of "coercion & corruption"   in the final vote directed specifically at Councilor Skip O'Neill but also others.  

Councilor O'Neill's comments were published in the LO Review as:

However, addressing the accusations about coercion, O'Neill said, “There are people in Lake Oswego willing to go to new lows. And there are some that can walk with their heads high and others that can’t.”

The article can be found at:   City Council Appoints.   

The Oregonian also published details in its article Accusations of a corrupt selection process.

It will be interesting to see if the rancor over the process produces a complaint and ethics investigation similar to one conducted during the Hoffman administration and one recently conducted over disclosure of confidential information. 

Complaints are filed with the State of Oregon  at Oregon Government Ethics Commission.

It will be interesting to see what the community thinks about all of this.

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.   

Real Time Analytics