Lets slow this train down and consider ... fundamental questions
On the surface, the Lake Oswego streetcar sounds delightful, but dig a little deeper and a number of questions arise for which we have not seen answers. We need to see a full cost-benefit analysis of the project conducted by an independent party (not affiliated with either the Foothills or South Waterfront development). The analysis should depict financial and non-financial effects of the project, consider both positive and negative impacts, and strive to answer the following questions:
* Who would benefit from the streetcar project? How and how much?
* Is it safe to assume that the streetcar would be the commute-of-choice for people who would live in apartments in Foothills?
* How many cars would be taken off the road by the streetcar?
* Would property values drop or increase along the route and what would be the related loss/gain in property tax revenues?
* Who do we expect to ride the streetcar? Is it in a location that benefits much of the Lake Oswego Community or is it more of a benefit to West Linn and Oregon City residents?
* Are West Linn and Oregon City in-volved in the discussion and the funding scenario? Why or why not?
* Do we want the kind of development and infill for Lake Oswego that is the basis for the project?
* Is the development of Foothills viable on its own or is it dependent on the streetcar being built and funded by taxpayers? What is the related risk to the Lake Oswego taxpayer investment in the streetcar?
* Why isn't the developer funding the infrastructure requirements (as a local church was recently required to do)?
* What are the good, bad and ugly implications of providing a rail line into downtown Lake Oswego?
* Have we considered alternatives such as simply running a few more buses at peak times down Highway 43?
* And finally, one must always ask: 'What are the implications of not doing this project at this time? Never?'
Let's not follow the 'sunk cost principle' and continue spending money because we already spent some. It's never too late to stop spending money … even federal funds.
One would think that after the still-unresolved West End Building debacle, the city council would want the support of the taxpayers before moving forward and that the citizens of Lake Oswego would demand a vote on the next big project.
Let's slow this train down and consider some fundamental questions before deciding to move forward.
Kay Hopkins is a resident of Lake Oswego.