Friday, April 12, 2013

LO City Council Begins To Exhibit "A Direction"

To All COLA LO Members,

Many members have been asking themselves "what is the direction of this new council?"   We are beginning to see an outline of the general direction of the council over its first 3 months in office.   Several of the decisions have come as a surprise to members and citizens.  

We thought it would be time to evaluate some of the decisions to give an overview of the council early on in this administration.   As most members know this administration was elected in response to the policies of the past two administrations and deep concerns within the community regarding spending, debt, conditions of  streets, and a belief that wasteful projects were attempting to change the community character.  

So lets look at key decisions:

  1. The first decision was the hiring of a new interim City Manager Tom Coffee.   The mayor made this decision early and was supported by the majority of the council 5-2.    Many believe this was a decision to promote interim change within the bureaucracy.Interim City Manager
  2. The second decision was to fundamentally change the sensitive lands ordinance and refocus its impact on public properties rather than private property within the city.   The council further agreed to meet with Metro and renegotiate the impact of this effort.  Sensitive Lands
  3. The third decision was to expedite completion of the comprehensive plan through recommendations presented by interim planning director Ron Bunch.   This project has gone on for several years eventually costing taxpayers $1.2 million for a land use plan.   Many in the community thought this effort was excessive for an update and represented a shift toward planning out the lives of residents and further restricting the community through a land use planning tool.  Comp Plan
  4. The Council voted to move ahead with the water Partnership citing no alternative given the contractual agreement with Tigard.   However it has also worked with the Tigard city council to renegotiate the agreement and participation rates to mitigate the impact on LO ratepayers.  LO Tigard Water
  5. Finally council decided to continue with the North Anchor Development effort omitting the possibility of a library after the bond measure was soundly defeated in the 2012 election.   This came a s a surprise to many citizens in the community because North Anchor had been the target of many citizen complaints regarding excessive spending on properties and lack of transparency in the process.   No Library
Overall members and citizens have noted a remarkable level of diversity of opinion on this council with members voting different ways on different issues.    Many decisions have been 5-2 in favor of the more conservative majority while others have been 4-3 with councilors O'Neill and Gudman voting with the more liberal councilors Gustafson and Jordan on specific issues. 

 While this may have rankled some conservative residents it shows a level of independent thought that is unique and clearly differentiates this council from prior administrations.  

Its too early to evaluate the performance of this council, yet it appears this council is doing what was expected on policy but isn't as fiscally responsible as the voters hoped.  

COLA will be providing an evaluation this summer on the performance of the council after six months in office.    We will be gathering input form a wide variety of residents including non-members before we publish the evaluation.   

Please  notify all members, contacts, and friends.  

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