Mayor Jack Hoffman has again refused to accept the opinion of the people that they do not want the streetcar line running from Portland into downtown Lake Oswego.
The recent community survey approved by the mayor (and city council) at a cost of $25,000 to the taxpayers, concludes that the majority of the people oppose the streetcar project. The key arguments are that it is too expensive, benefits too few people and would have a negative impact on the village atmosphere of our city.
Faced with this relentless opposition, the mayor was asked by Anita Kissée, a reporter from KATU, at what point does he agree people don't want it. His response was, 'I don't know if it's good democracy to make decisions based on surveys. We ('we' being undefined) usually don't do that.' If the mayor doesn't know what constitutes good democracy, how can he know what defines his role as an elected official?
Unsatisfied with the results of this survey, the mayor in an attempt to gain the citizens' support, has now endorsed the idea of implementing an education program, again at taxpayer expense, to 'better inform' the residents of the benefits of having a streetcar line. However, the indoctrination will be coupled with the Foothills development project, which was not included in the recent survey. Distracting from the shortcomings of the streetcar by associating it with a nonexistent housing development will no doubt confuse the issue. The residents will have until May to form their opinions in time to vote on the streetcar issue at the citizens advisory election, again being funded with taxpayer dollars.
The survey revealed that rather than construct a streetcar line, the people would rather have money spent on repairing city streets, adding more bus lines and reducing traffic congestion on Highway 43. The bottleneck that currently backs traffic up is caused by the signal at State Street and A Street. Adding commuters coming and going from the streetcar station onto State Street will compound the problem. Bear in mind the mayor wants to include the Foothills project, which will generate additional traffic on State Street The unintended consequence could be gridlock.
The mayor and his three allied council members are not acting in our best interest and a change in attitude would be refreshing. The council could start off with revisiting some of the suggestions presented by the townspeople instead of pushing their personal agenda.
Dave Sengenberger is a resident of Lake Oswego.