Why are we revising the comprehensive plan?

Last Thursday, Lake Oswego launched into the second year of its three-year process to revise our comprehensive plan, with the first of seven community 'summits' which will be held to develop goals and policies to fulfill the vision that was created over the first year of the process. The third year will generate action items to implement those goals and policies. This is a major project for the city, requiring staff and volunteer time, financial resources and lots of public involvement. It's worth taking a moment now to ask, 'Why are we even doing this?'

In 1973, the Oregon Legislature adopted Senate Bill 100, the legendary law that created a statewide system for land use planning. It directed each city and county to develop a comprehensive plan for land use decisions. This bill, combined with other groundbreaking initiatives such as the Beach Bill (affirming that Oregon's beaches were public property), the Bottle Bill, the abandonment of the Mt. Hood Freeway (which would have replaced Powell Boulevard) and the turning of Harbor Drive into Tom McCall Waterfront Park, all combined to form what came to be known as 'The Oregon Story.' These were all passed with bipartisan support, and this is where Oregon got its reputation as a progressive state.

Not everyone was OK with this. Oregonians are an independent bunch, and there were, and still are, many people who don't want someone else telling them what to do. There were three different attempts to repeal SB 100 by initiative, in 1976, '78 and '82. They were all defeated, by margins of 57 percent-43 percent, 61 percent-39 percent and 55 percent-45 percent. Oregon continued with its land use planning, passing the Urban Growth Boundary in 1980, and in 1982, establishing a process for periodic review and updating of local comprehensive plans.

Lake Oswego's comprehensive plan has not been revised since the early 1990s, and its revision is due by 2013. It is the basis for all land use planning and growth management actions in Lake Oswego. Why not just tweak the current plan to meet the requirements? There are so many issues to address that impact our way of life that council voted unanimously in 2009 to involve the citizens in creating a vision of what kind of a community they wanted and how to bring it about.

The plan addresses everything from citizen involvement and economic development to transportation, natural resources, housing and infrastructure. It incorporates sustainability into every facet of the plan rather than leave it as a stand alone chapter. It consolidates 12 chapters into seven action areas and changes the wording to plain English. Most of all, the extensive public process provides ample opportunity for every citizen to participate in determining what kind of a city Lake Oswego will be by the year 2035. For a description of the process, please go to and help shape our legacy to future generations.

Chris Schetky, Lake Oswego, is a Realtor and member of Keep Lake Oswego Great.

Go to top