We understand concerns, but can't support 3-269
The floodgates of unhappiness opened long ago on whether the decision to purchase the Safeco building was a good one.
A growing number of Lake Oswego residents began questioning both the wisdom and the methodology the city used in making this purchase.
Quite frankly, we understand and share some of those concerns. As we look at Measure 3-269, the charter amendment, we struggle to align three key questions:
n Is the 14-acre Safeco property truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the city?
n Given all the costs facing city taxpayers in the near future (specifically, the sewer interceptor, surface water and water treatment plant totaling in the neighborhood of $110 million), can we afford the luxury of the property?
n Has the city done a good job allowing residents to feel connected to this project?
In quick succession, we believe the answers to those three questions are:
Maybe, maybe not.
No, at least to the segment of the community that is so alienated by what's going on.
Lake Oswego has no shortage of folks willing to offer their opinions. The fact that the current battle has become so heated is nothing new.
Former Mayor Herald C. Campbell remembers the highly charged emotions when the decision was made to locate the Lake Oswego Public Library to its First Addition location. There was plenty of squabbling, as well, during the early part of the process to figure out how best to design what are now Millennium Plaza Park and Lake View Village.
The paint is that emotions always run high in a city that has an involved citizenry. That's a good thing, for the most part.
But we fear there's an over-zealous response oozing out of this current state of involvement. We're not denying that 5,000 residents felt strongly enough to sign the petition to get Measure 3-269 on our ballot.
But we do have concerns about what the measure might do to Lake Oswego, now and in the future.
The idea behind Measure 3-269 is to seek public approval for most property purchases over $2 million. Community input is important and always a good thing but in this instance, we feel Measure 3-269 takes things too far.
The mayor and the city council are elected by the people to make decisions for the people. We expect them to understand the issues, to fully comprehend the pros and cons of each issue and to make decisions that are in the best interests for the entire community. If we don't like the job they do, we vote them out of office.
Measure 3-269 takes this decision-making process out of the hands of those who supposedly know and refers it to a general public that may or may not fully understand the scope of what they are voting on. It also puts one more decision at risk if 50 percent of the registered voters fail to turnout to vote in an election.
If this measure were in place today would we have Millennium Plaza Park? Would we own the property that U.S. Bank now occupies on the lake? We wonder.
Community approval is important, but is changing the city charter because we don't agree with a council decision really the best answer in the long run?
We think not.
In our opinion, Measure 3-269 is knee-jerk reaction to the purchase of the Safeco property. It would impede progress and limit the city's ability to negotiate and purchase future properties in a timely manner. It appears no other city has a charter amendment this restrictive. Limiting the city's decision making by seeking voter approval on these types of decisions is counter productive. In our opinion, a vote for Measure 3-269 is a vote that will only hurt Lake Oswego in the long run.
Vote no to amend the city charter.