Lake Oswego citizens repeatedly are saying no to streetcar
No, no, no, no! How many times and in how many ways do the citizens of Lake Oswego need to tell the mayor and city council that they do not support, nor want, streetcar/Foothills?
Citizen testimony at public hearings ran two to one against streetcar. Email correspondence to council ran approximately three to one against streetcar. The Citizen Budget Committee voted to eliminate any streetcar/Foothills funding. Now, a professional survey of Lake Oswego citizens identified that 82 percent of the citizens think other things are more important than Streetcar. This should be more than adequate information for the mayor and his majority on the council to listen to the citizens and understand that Lake Oswego does not want this streetcar.
Unfortunately, that's not the case - they voted down the motion to immediately cease spending city funds on streetcar. They are clearly determined to force the streetcar/Foothills into our city no matter the results and no matter the citizen input.
In fact, they are so desperate to bring streetcar/Foothills to Lake Oswego that we are now playing 'Let's Make a Deal' with the streetcar cost. Citizens didn't like the $458 million, so let's chop that in half - would the revised plan at $208 million or so win citizen approval? Or perhaps we could find a way to make that number $100 million or $175 million? At $208 million they are offering us a bargain - wait - that's still a very large number with no certainty of funding from any source - all for a slow 38-minute commute to Portland? I have heard from many citizens on this topic and the majority are highly opposed. They are opposed to using federal dollars or city dollars to pay for politicians' egos or for subsidies for wealthy developers. Let's remember that some of these same people trying to bring us streetcar/Foothills also brought Portland a tram for $57 million that was originally estimated at $15 million. Whatever cost projection the proponents develop, we can rest assured that the actual total cost and the Lake Oswego cost will likely be much, much higher.
What Lake Oswego really needs is a council that brings the community together and works to solve necessary problems and issues truly demanding attention. Unfortunately, what we have instead is a council that has brought us the biggest divide and the most contentious issues that I can recall in all my years in the community. Several years ago we purchased a large commercial property without a plan. Last year, we had the extremely divisive sensitive lands issue where council majority failed to listen to the citizens. This year brought us streetcar/ Foothills with the continued determination to ignore public input.
Yes, the dialogue has gotten much more heated, much more intense and much more angry. This is an unfortunate outcome of elected officials ignoring the public who hired them. We need to put these divisive issues behind us and concentrate on bringing the city back together to focus on needed items such as paving our potholes, delivering affordable essential services and resolving the WEB building issue.
A grand vision for the future is not a grand vision when it is contrary to the desires of 82 percent of the citizens.
Mike Kehoe is a member of the Lake Oswego City Council.