I believe that, other than the purchase of the Safeco property and pushing for its continued development, the mayor and council have done a good job for this city and I applaud them for it. The recent citizen survey supports this belief.
I urge council to consider putting this issue to rest quickly for the citizens of Lake Oswego because regardless of the number of hearings on future development of this ill-begotten property, the minds of a majority of voters will not be changed on the wisdom of the original purchase of the property or its development. It was too expensive when we bought it, too expensive to develop for a grandiose community center and too expensive to develop piecemeal or to attract non-existent private partners.
The longer council continues to think that the rejection of Measure 3-295 was only a rejection of the re-financing plan and not a rejection of the property purchase, the more citizens will be frustrated with city officials, and the more money will be squandered on interest, property support costs, and foregone property taxes (from the new buyer).
When the voters say they don't want to pay for Safeco, that means we don't want to pay for the property. Ignore the November vote to retain Safeco, which I believe was influenced by some negativity related to Measure 3-269, which restricted real estate purchases to under $2 million without voter approval. Voters knew the November vote to retain the property had no property tax or bond measure impact.
Ballot measure 3-295 on May 20 was defeated because it contained a real bond measure and a real property tax impact without the taint of an accompanying charter amendment. This wasn't a rejection of the re-finance of the loan. The vote was a rejection of the original Safeco purchase.
Let's not go through the motion of endless, meaningless hearings on how to develop the property. This would all be a waste of everyone's time. Council should know by now that there are no financially viable uses for the property. Councilor Jordon even thinks it might be 15 years before we decide what to do with it. That would be financial disaster for the city.
In the upcoming November elections for mayor and council I - and I hope many other Lake Oswegans - will vote for and support any current council members or candidates who decide that a majority of Lake Oswego voters have spoken, and the best way for the city to move on is to place the Safeco property on the market as soon as practicable. Current councilors need to think this through carefully and do what is best for the city.
Gordon Umaki is a resident of Lake Oswego.