Theres much still to do as Measure 3-269 fails

One-third of registered Lake Oswegans chose not to cast their ballots Tuesday

Lake Oswego voters, after listening to, at times, painful rhetoric on both sides, have decided not to handcuff the Lake Oswego City Council by placing limits on future city real estate deals.

Ballot Measure 3-269 was defeated, as about 55 percent of local voters (in three counties) voted no. The measure, if passed, would have forced the city to hold special elections when considering property purchases of $2 million or more. It retroactively would have forced a special election on the Safeco property.

Whether voters were saying yes to Safeco or no to tying the council's hands remains to be seen. Safeco remains a focal point of controversy in the community, despite elected city officials and members of the successful Our City Our Future group calling for 'unanimity' and for the community to heal and move forward now that the vote is behind us.

The Ask Lake Oswegans group, which brought the measure to the ballot, undoubtedly has to be pleased with the fact that it generated substantial dialogue in the community on the property and what its future role should be. No doubt members would have been happier to see their measure pass but they did succeed in getting the word out.

It's important to note that while a majority of voters supported the Our City Our Future side, the numbers were not overwhelming and more than a third of registered voters didn't bother to turn in their ballots.

Altogether, the number of registered voters in Lake Oswego is 23,117 for Clackamas, Multnomah and a smidgen of Washington County (just two voters participated). Voter turnout in the city was unofficially listed at 64 percent by the Clackamas County Elections Office.

City leaders and Our City Our Future can breathe a collective sigh of relief following Tuesday's special election. Not only did Measure 3-269 go down, but a companion measure, 3-273, which asked whether the city should retain ownership of the former Safeco property, passed with about 55 percent of Lake Oswego voters saying yes. In order for the city to move ahead with Safeco and its 14 acres, however, it still must ask voters in another election if they are willing to buy the building through a bond sale.

Tuesday's two mail ballot measures seemingly divided Lake Oswego as the two groups - Ask Lake Oswegans vs. Our City Our Future - jockeyed for voter support. The contentious nature of the battle between the two sides put off many city residents. Comments to the Review's editorial pages and Web site definitely bear that out.

The election should be certified no later than Nov. 26.

While we support the idea of moving forward and ending the divisiveness, it's clear that the city is going to have to be very open about its plans for Safeco, which is now officially called the West End Building. The building purchase is coming at a time when the city is facing other costly projects, including the sewage interceptor, surface water and water treatment plant improvements.

It should be noted, too, that Ask Lake Oswegans, using a force of 140 volunteers, gathered 5,000 signatures in six weeks to put 3-269 on the ballot. As Mary Olson, a spokesperson for Ask Lake Oswegans, notes, the group is 'not a small, vocal minority … and we are not going away.'

That's true and hopefully everyone is aware of that message now.