Keep Safeco for LO's future
To the Editor:
The citizens of Lake Oswego are debating about keeping the Safeco property in the form of two ballot measures. Those opposed seem to have the narrowest view of the issue. The folks in favor of keeping the last, best land suitable for municipal uses are more concerned about our future needs.
And they are beginning to look at the big picture with an historical view. All across the United States elected officials have had the foresight to acquire land that we are all grateful for. New York's Central Park land was acquired without a vote of the people. And then there was the Louisiana Purchase and Seward's Folly, Alaska. What if they had to await a referendum before the governing body could make an offer? How differently things might have turned out!
Do we really want to force a distress sale of the Safeco property? Would we be pleased with the use to which that land might be put? Would we prefer another shopping center, some condos or more big houses on small lots?
We don't have to immediately put more money into a serviceable building for many years. When we do make up our collective minds, there will be a vote for a tax levy or a bond issue to pay for improvements.
Meanwhile, it will cost the average property owner only $9 a month to keep the Safeco building safe until we decide where to put the library, move city hall, expand recreation and continue to use the space for community activities.
Let's keep the Safeco property safe for our future. Vote no on Measure 3-269 and vote yes on Measure 3-273.
Norma Jean Germond
Thanks for supporting Buddy Walk
To the Editor:
On behalf of the members of Down Syndrome Network Oregon, we would like to most humbly thank the community of Lake Oswego for its incredible support of our annual Down Syndrome Buddy Walk.
This is our fifth year of the walk held here in Lake Oswego.
We cannot think of a better place to have our walk as with each year that passes more people come out to support us and encourage us in our walk with our loved one with Down Syndrome. This is amazing to us as it always rains.
It just goes to show you that we do live in a community that cares. Our schools, our fire department, our newspaper, our parks, our businesses and the great folks of Lake Oswego do care and it showed on the faces of everyone there.
Thank you , thank you.
Renee Kerr and Paula Schiedler
'City council … has an edifice complex'
To the Editor:
'Did you look at community pools that have steadily lost money?,' I asked a consultant hired by the Lake Oswego City Council at an October, 2006, public meeting on the community center project. 'Nope,' he replied. 'We just looked at the ones that were profitable.' That was when I knew the fix was in.
Our city council clearly has an edifice complex.
It has been abundantly clear from day one that they have been determined to build a community center, whether the community wants one or not. The renaming of the Safeco building as the West End Building and the steady encroachment of city programs into the building, in order to make it seem essential, further validates that conclusion. I encourage Lake Oswego voters to say yes to Ballot Measure 3-269 on the November ballot and put a stop to this whole foolish escapade.
The proposed community center is unnecessary, too costly and far down the list of the city's priorities. In addition, Lake Oswego is already on the verge of pricing itself out of much of the real estate market. The additional property taxes associated with the community center, plus the looming costs of the sewer interceptor and other critical projects, would make our community even less affordable.
Approving Ballot Measure 3-269 is the right thing to do.
'The devil is in the details' on 3-269
To the Editor:
Please join me in voting no on Measure 3-269. My wife and I moved to Lake Oswego in 1990, recognizing that Lake Oswego was a good community and that it had the framework to become a great community. The achievements of the past 17 years took community vision, community leadership and the political will of several city councils.
Although I may understand the frustration some Lake Oswegens feel regarding the purchase of the Safeco building that does not lead me to support the proposed city charter amendment to restrict property purchases. The proposed charter amendment limits the flexibility and options for the existing and future city councils to build on the city vision. If only one property has been purchased in the past 10 years that exceeds the $2 million proposed in Measure 3-269 why is this unnecessary regulatory process necessary?
Voters should read the measure carefully because the devil is in the details. There appear to be unnecessary limits on future urban renewal plans; the same types of urban renewal plans that brought the city the award-winning Lake View Village and Millennium Park. I believe Measure 3-269 could also limit open space and park purchases which have done so much to maintain and improve the quality of life in Lake Oswego. I am very concerned about how the unforeseen effect the Measure 3-269 could have on the redevelopment efforts in both Lake Oswego's downtown and the Lake Grove area. Join with me in voting no on Measure 3-269.
Don't kill downtown redevelopment
To the Editor:
Measure 3-269 (the charter amendment to limit city property acquisitions over $2 million without a citizen vote) is a bad idea.
Most of the properties the city bought in the last 10 years are worth more than $2 million today. It is also typical for redevelopment agencies to assemble property and then resell to a developer to obtain the type of development desirable for the city.
LORA (the Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency) purchased the properties in Block 138 and then resold it to Gramor, which developed Lake View Village. The public investment in Millenium Plaza Park (more than $2 million) and the parking garage in Lake View Village ($4 million) sparked redevelopment of our downtown core and increased property values in the redevelopment district, which will ultimately payback the investment.
This measure is misguided and will end the downtown redevelopment process as we know it.
Take Safeco away from politicians
To the Editor:
Bureaucrats. They waste money, lose laptops and are especially skilled at creating full employment for bureaucrats.
Safeco. Nearly 90,000 (88,000) square feet of new opportunity for the bureaucracy to grow.
I can't cite the cost of a mid-level employee now. I have known an individual's combined wages, benefits plus PERS is substantial. Government employees frequently make more than the people that pay for them. Certainly government employees cost too much to be assigned work that is unnecessary or a duplication, and here you have it.
Parks and Recreation. I have studied their new catalog. Sixty-three pages of full employment for bureaucrats. Some of the programs are senseless. A large number of the offerings are already available at our community colleges and I believe also in our public schools. Programs that are duplications and unnecessary and always, they eat up more taxes.
The catalog is a beauty. If I had been the salesman for the printing company I might have gotten into the pinot grigio to celebrate my good fortune.
Anyone wishing to learn French, Italian or Spanish? English is not listed. I suppose someone decided it is better to teach us Spanish than to teach English to Hispanics.
Wasted money results in higher property taxes that never go away.
If we wish to slow the growth of government a great way to make an impact is to take Safeco away from the politicrats and bureaucrats.
Mayor, when you discuss initiative Ballot Measure 3-269 before the public, omissions of key provisions and conditions, though inadvertent, can be construed as misrepresentation.
Alan E. Schlosser
Let's not be penny pinching on this
To the Editor:
We've lived in Lake Oswego for over 42 years.
When we came to Oregon, we choose Lake Oswego because of the reputation of the schools and for the amenities the city offered. We could have bought a larger home elsewhere in the Portland area for less money, but the benefits of Lake Oswego made our choice clear. The amenities we looked for didn't come cheap; residents before us had the foresight to pay for the good things we received. The seller of our home received a higher price than they would have gotten without the Lake Oswego amenities.
The West End Building will enhance the livability of the area and help increase property values. I want it developed by the city for selfish economic reasons, even if I never use the facilities. But the city does need a larger library, it can use the other amenities suggested. I would use the facility; therefore I'll get more back than just the increase value of my home.
Let's not be shortsighted and penny pinching; think to the future. Vote for the West End Building and against hamstringing the future councils.
Martin and Phyllis Jacobs
Safeco could be lost forever
To the Editor:
What would happen in Lake Oswego's future if the proponents of Measure 3-269 have their way with us? It concerns the Safeco property known as the West End Building.
Their process, if it were enshrined in our city charter, would make it very difficult to acquire any substantial tract of land for municipal purposes like a library, a new city hall, more athletic facilities or community activity rooms.
We would need to have public hearings, hold an election and then negotiate with a seller if the land were still for sale. Then we would have a to bid against developers of shopping malls, condominiums and big houses on small lots.
Because suitable land is very scarce and expensive, Measure 3-269 would severely handicap any hope for future library space, a city hall, recreation facilities, and community activity rooms. The tragedy of this measure is that it would force the sale of property that we already own, complete with the useable building, parking lots, landscaping and natural areas. It would be lost forever.
Improvements to this property can wait for a community discussion and ballot for a tax levy and/or bond issue. Meanwhile, we can keep using it, now.
Let's keep the Safeco property safe. Vote no on Measure 3-269 and yes on 3-273.
Senior cottage housing alternative eyed
To the Editor:
On Sunday, Oct.14, at 2 p.m. architect Mark Lakeman and I will present our preliminary ideas for a small, sustainable, senior cottage housing alternative designed for two adjacent lots in the First Addition. The presentation will happen at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center at 505 G St. There is no charge and and we welcome all who are interested to attend.
There will be an exhibit of drawings and other materials, a slide presentation, light refreshments and a conversation with participants about this project and Lake Oswego cottage housing alternatives in general.
We will talk about how this idea satisfies the needs of older citizens while it reflects the history, character and nature of the First Addition neighborhood and Lake Oswego and discuss the ways in which the cottage alternative addressess Lake Oswego's infill issue as well as sustainable, affordable housing needs for all segments of the population.
Mark Lakeman brings expertise in designing for community orientation with common sharing of buildings and grounds maintenance, transportation, learning/teaching and travel opportunities, medical assistance, supportive interaction during life changes and transitions. We will look at both the percieved negatives and the benefits of this kind of neighborhood development.
Please join us in this opportunity to listen and learn from each other. It is my fondest hope that this project may be regarded as another creative legacy for our creative community.
Norma E. Heyser
Don't reduce open space requirement
To the Editor:
It sounds like a bad idea to reduce the 20 percent open space requirement.
If the city gives the builders a greater lot size, they will just fill it up with a larger house. For example, the old Riverwest Church on Greentree Circle wants to develop its property. Rign now they want to put seven homes in the proposed development with the 20 percent open space requirement. This will be difficult and more likely only five or six homes will be built.
Why not keep the current open space limits so that the remaining property left for developing in Lake Oswego at least blends in with the rest of the area.
James T. Walz
3-269 hamstrings the government
To the Editor:
I urge a no vote on Measure 3-269. I initially found it appealing as a hard, but necessary, check on the city's acquisition methods. However, having thought about what it does, I find it to be more of the micromanagement legislation by initiative that has already unnecessarily and unwisely hamstrung Oregon government.
I certainly appreciate concerns by many taxpayers over past acquisitions by the current city administration. That's the initial appeal of 3-269. However, it is the ultimate cow out of barn response, restricting future city administrations in perpetuity. The proper response to ensure future wise acquisitions is to elect councilors that represent one's views and to let them do their jobs - not sit in judgment over nearly every city land acquisition.
I write in my personal capacity, and not as a representative of any organization. However, I am vice president of the Lake Oswego Soccer Club and a representative of LOSC to the Lake Oswego Youth Sports Alliance, and have spent a great deal of time and effort for many years trying to get more playing fields built in this town.
Measure 3-269 would make it extremely difficult for a future council to acquire more field space - anything large enough would certainly cost more than $2million. As a real estate attorney who has negotiated with public entities, I know that subjecting acquisitions to a public vote strangles any deal making by that entity.
I urge all field proponents and sports families to vote No on 3-269.
Wave is rolling in on Lakeridge debate
To the Editor:
I once stood in water waist deep waiting for the next body surfing wave. It rose up three times the size of those I had been surfing, a monster sure to cause damage.
I dove under it, was smashed into the sand, and surfaced with a bloody nose and a headache. That wave arose because of natural forces in play.
The wave about to break on the neighborhood surrounding Lakeridge High School is not from nature, but from the selfishness of human beings. That wave arises from those that have made gods of their children and want an environment fashioned suitable for worship services. Those behind the wave have no thought or concern for its damage or its lasting effect. Rather, they are very comfortable with the thought that they will not suffer from the wave because they reside elsewhere.
The wave, now on its way, is not comprised of water. It is comprised of vehicles, noise, and litter. It is powered by self- serving, arrogance, and false pride. The wave is on its way and we that reside in our neighborhood will be swept under. We can but protest. It is our right as well as duty to do exactly that.
Our only vehicles are the courts and the ballot. I have a feeling they will be used.
Attend the ballot measure forum
To the Editor:Under whose ownership will Lake Oswego taxpayers have the most over-all, cost-effective say in the future use of the WEB site?
Opponents and proponents of Ballots Measures 3-269 and 3-273 seem to me to base their financial arguments and conclusions on partially different and often conflicting facts. One outstanding but ignored 'fact,' in my opinion, is that the presently vastly underutilized WEB site will be more densely developed by someone, whether public or private. A second ignored 'fact' is that most of the heavy costs of the necessary infrastructure improvements spreading out from the WEB site core will be borne by the taxpayers and not covered by any systems development charges imposed.
I intend to go the ballot measure forum sponsored jointly by the Lake Oswego Neighborhood Action Coalition and the Clackamas County League of Women Voters at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 17, at the Lakewood Center Theatre. Maybe when the parties discuss the measures in the same room, a core of mutually agreed on, relevant, 'facts' will appear. At least we can ask questions from the floor.
Who's city, who's future?
To the Editor:
During a recent televised debate about city charter amendment 3-269, I was shocked to hear the opponents of the ballot measure repeatedly refer to it as serving "a small minority of special interests." As treasurer of the Ask Me First PAC supporting the measure, I knew these claims were false and decided to thoroughly examine the donors for both sides.
The truth is, "a small minority of special interests" is an accurate description of the opponents of Measure 3-269: the contributors to "Our City, Our Future" PAC. As of Oct. 7, the largest cash contributions to OCOF are from local real estate developers and the mayor's own PAC (ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 each). Only 9 percent of their total funding comes from individuals contributing $100 or less.
The OCOF funding against Measure 3-269 is especially troubling when compared to 3-269's wide base of citizen support. The majority of Ask Me First contributors (51 of 74) made donations of $100 or less. Our contributions are not coming from people or organizations with regular business before city council.
Ask Me First PAC was formed by Ask Lake Oswegans, a local non-partisan citizen group with genuine concern for the city's future. Ten dozen volunteers took to the streets, gathering over 5,000 signatures from their neighbors to place Measure 3-269 on the ballot. We are not "a minority group of special interests." We want voters to be able to weigh in before special interests are allowed to dictate the city's future. Please vote yes on 3-269.
Ask Me First PAC
Use ballot measure forum to get answers
To the Editor:
Like other residents, I've yet to make up my mind on the ballot measures. Last month I thought, yes and no; today I think, no and no. I am sure, however, that I will be well informed before I finally decide. These two measures will have lasting impacts on this city and I hope everyone who votes will try to understand both sides.
A good way to do this is to attend the ballot measure forum, co-sponsored by Lake Oswego Neighborhood Action Coalition and the Clackamas League of Women Voters at the Lakewood Center, 368 S. State St., on Wednesday, Oct. 17, at 7:30 p.m.
Change can be done in thoughtful manner
To the Editor:
As the process to change the Lakeridge CUP (conditional use permit) moves forward, we want to thank the 5,000-plus citizens of Lake Oswego who have signed the petition to loosen the current CUP restrictions and also allow the Lakeridge varsity football team to play at home.
To many, these proposed changes are way past due and a breath of fresh air; to others, they are perceived as detrimental. There are definitely two sides to this debate and during the past few weeks we have been taking every opportunity to explain to people what changes are needed and more importantly, why they are needed.
Many 'reality checks' or 'issues' have been publicly highlighted so people could know exactly why this challenging, time-consuming process is taking place. Shining a spotlight on problems related to the CUP and the district stadium hasn't necessarily been comfortable or easy; but as we all know, problems cannot be solved until they are acknowledged and understood.
Fortunately, leaders from both school communities have avoided the 'blame game' and realize that whining, complaining and dwelling on the past will get us nowhere. Together, we must move forward with a clear understanding of the issues and convince city hall that change ... done thoughtfully ... can be a good thing for everyone.
Lakeridge High School is a $56 million community asset and it is to everyone's benefit that it be a vibrant, fully-functioning, fully- utilized facility. We are grateful for the tremendous support from the Laker community and community at large.
If all goes well, we look forward to having all the Lakers come over to our house for a friendly game of football in 2009.
For more information please go to www.ChangeTheCup.com .
Chair, Lakeridge CUP Steering Committee
'Sometimes change is not good'
To the Editor:
After attending last Monday night's DRC meeting, I drove home reflecting on the discussions of the evening. The proposal before review was the senior low income housing on Oakridge Road in the heart of Lake Grove. It would seem that a subject of housing for our low income seniors would be a topic that most everyone could agree on. The proponents spent hours testifying for the need of this development. The opponents, called 'activists' by the commission, brought forward issues that only people living in the neighborhood could speak to. Arguments about the four-story design, the first tall building in Lake Grove, the incompatible magnitude of the building, the lack of adequate parking (20 spaces for 45 units), water pressure concerns and the removal of yet another grove of trees were on the top of their list.
As I drove toward my Lake Grove neighborhood I passed neighborhoods with large houses on large lots with tall mature fir trees. It suddenly came to me that none of the houses I passed would ever experience the problems brought forward by the Lake Grove 'activists.' The neighborhoods of Lake Grove, Lake Forrest and Waluga are Lake Oswego's target for a 'makeover.'
Why you ask?
They have eclectic homes, various styles and designs, that seem to be the target of developers who can see the potential of tearing these down and creating infill of large homes on flag lots. Or better yet, develop something large that doesn't fit into the existing neighborhood. The ranch-style homes are so 'yesterday.' My feeling is that they won't sleep until all of those small homes conform to the high standards of Lake Oswego.
I drove home that night to my little house in Lake Grove wondering how long until the neighborhood no longer looked as 'charming' as it does today. It felt like a subtle kind of discrimination. The ugly form, the one that is just beneath the ground so no one sees it or wakes up to it until everything has changed. Sometimes change is not good.
Who can predict what the next cost might be?
To the Editor:
Put the Safeco property purchase aside for a moment. Lake Oswego needs to pass Measure 3-269. Presently there is no limit on property purchases by the city council. This time the unauthorized amount was $20 million. Who can predict how much it might be next time?
Measure 3-269, if approved, will require city officials to get voter approval for future city purchases of unessential properties to $2 million per property. Its effect will be retroactive to a date previous to the purchase of the Safeco property. It will require that the city put the Safeco property up for sale within 6 months. That is, if Measure 3-273 is not passed.
Measure 3-273, if approved, will allow the city to keep the Safeco property. Voter-approved bond issues will be required for major improvements such as a community center or city hall.
What if both measures pass? Measure 3-273 will allow the city to keep the Safeco property. However, 3-269 will require voter approval of all future purchases over $2 million. The voters will have said, 'OK on Safeco, but don't do it again.'
Conceivably neither measure will pass. That would allow the city council to keep the property. Voter-approved bond issues would still be required for major improvements. The city council would also be unrestrained to purchase other properties.
George E. Edens
Editor's note: If Measure 3-269 passes, it will automatically trigger a second vote - in March 2008 - in which voters will decide whether or not the Safeco property should be kept or sold.
'Perfect for whom I wonder ?'
To the Editor:
After attending a public testimony with DRC on Oct. 1 regarding a proposed federally funded low income senior apartment building on Oakridge Road in Lake Grove, I realized and wasn't surprised that there are many in this city who are passionate about the need for this type of affordable housing. The proponents for this application were poised, coached, and prepared to convince commissioners that this application would meet the serious need for affordable senior housing in our community. I wonder, however, why the proponents were quick to point out that the parcel chosen (4255 Oakridge Road) was the 'perfect' place for this development? Is it because they think the 'urgent' need to accommodate 44 low-income seniors is far more important than carefully considering the local neighborhood concerns for good building design and height, adequate parking, the amount of tree removal, etc?
The opponents on the other hand stressed that they were not challenging nor opposing the need issues for low-income seniors. The opponents were there to give testimony showing that the proposed building design, massive scale, looming height, parking needs and tree loss are not compatible, complimentary nor acceptable to the surrounding area and to its local neighbors. The issue of compatibility is a tough topic for neighborhood associations to argue because it leaves a lot of room for subjective interpretation. The heavy burden of proof for neighborhoods to prove and argue compatibility is difficult, especially when those who are asked to judge and interpret compatibility do not live in or are unfamiliar with the area.
Proponents for this development are presumptuous in describing this site as being 'perfect.' Perfect for whom I wonder? The applicants should seriously consider reducing the amount of apartment units for their development. Then perhaps many neighborhood issues and concerns could be addressed.
I hope that with the support of over 200 signatures from adjacent neighborhoods, four recognized neighborhood associations, LONAC and the Lake Grove Business Association, members of the DRC seriously, carefully and thoughtfully consider the issues that were brought forth by the opponents.
Safeco property is outstanding
To the Editor:
I recently had an opportunity to tour a portion of the Safeco property and was pleasantly surprised to see what an outstanding property the city has acquired. The building has been maintained exceedingly well with move-in quality.
I have been confused on my stand regarding the vote against the city making future purchases of $2 million or more and also the retroactive purchase of Safeco.
If we have a ceiling on the dollar amount the city can spend without voter approval we would stand a good chance of missing opportunities. We do elect our city officials to make major decisions for us. How many sellers would be willing to wait for a vote and take the chance it could fail?
It would be a sad loss for Lake Oswego to give up the Safeco property. This is a magnificent piece of property for our city to own and eventually develop.
I will vote against Measure 3-269. It is too restrictive. We need to give our elected officials the ability to make major decisions and we need to keep the Safeco property. I would encourage confused voters, as I was, to take a close look and tour the Safeco property to see if that helps your vote decision.
The Safeco property is a golden opportunity for the present and future of Lake Oswego. Years from now we will be praising the foresight of elected officials for the historic purchase.