Should we rethink Lake Groves merger in 59?
- Tom Maginnis
- Lake Oswego Review - Opinion
I live in Westlake. There is no benefit to my neighbors or me from the streetcar - only a bill.
After we pay our share of the streetcar construction (Foothills), the expanded library and northern development (First Addition), the tennis court (Rassekh property), the Foothills development, the expanded water system, sewage system, electrical grid, roads and parks necessary to make Foothills work and half a dozen other east side boondoggles, we will still have no more livable a city than we had before.
Out here west of Chandler Road, we are, as I heard it expressed by a city official, 'the wallet of Lake Oswego.' When the streetcar is finished, we will be on the hook for 80 percent to 90 percent of its operational costs, and all with no access to it.
The streetcar is expensive and does not serve Lake Oswego. It serves the Foothills development investors, Portland, First Addition and the mayor.
For $450 million (last week, revised cost estimates were released, suggesting the $458 million estimate in 2017 dollars would come in lower), it should serve the city. That money would be better spent building a transit line down Interstate 5 with a spur that enters Lake Oswego at Kruse Way and ends at Highway 43.
Or, for a fraction of the cost of this line, the developers and the mayor could get a bridge and a link to the new Milwaukie light-rail line.
The problem is that the first would not enrich the developers and the second would force east-side LO residents to mix with the great unwashed east of the river.
The LO streetcar serves half a market (no ridership east of the line) and it's a poor one at that, with little population on the line. It exists entirely to justify intensive development in Foothills.
The growth of our city by an additional 22 percent in a short time will result in multiple unintended consequences (some good, some bad) and a few predictable ones, like many, many more cars.
Being from Portland, I have friends living in the Pearl, the riverfront and South Waterfront. All have cars, even though they are in 'streetcar neighborhoods' and use the streetcar some of the time.
With one car to every four people, Foothills will result in 2,500 additional cars east of Highway 43 and the rail line. How will they get back and forth? What will that do to Highway 43 and A street?
If the city could bank the money this transit system costs, it could run helicopters back and forth from downtown Portland to LO every three minutes, both directions, 24 hours a day, on the interest alone.
This is absurd, I know, but does the scale of the spending not even give one pause?
The powers that be need to stop and look at all of Lake Oswego, not just the northeast corner. We western LO residents are not 'well-heeled opposition to the streetcar' as the Oregonian reporter so crassly expressed it. We are ordinary citizens with concerns that are being ignored in almost every decision made at city hall.
The 1959 merger of Lake Grove and Lake Oswego is looking less and less sensible. Maybe we could secede.
Tom Maginnis is a resident of Lake Oswego.