Response needed to affordable housing comments
As a Lake Oswego resident who's intensely interested in affordable housing for our city I've made a point of attending DRC hearings for the senior housing project being proposed in the Waluga neighborhood. Jeff Novak's letter in the Dec. 6 issue of the Review opposing this project ('Housing plans create concerns') is full of omissions and distortions of fact that deserve a response.
First, in arguing the building size/property size issue he leaves the impression that there is too much building being proposed on this parcel by drawing a comparison with the property occupied by a nearby Albertson's. While both buildings may be of similar size, Albertson's is a sprawling single story structure while the proposed housing project is a much more compact, four-story structure. Further, Albertson's needs a significantly larger parcel because of the high ratio of parking to square feet of retailing space (usually 5:1) as well as a large service area for semi-trucks. Truth be told, while the proposed development meets open space standards required by the zoning, Novak misguidedly chooses to use this argument to oppose the project rather than focus his complaint where it really belongs - the zoning designation assigned to this parcel years ago.
Second, he talks about a 'severe' lack of parking that currently exists in the Waluga area. This may be true for some parts of his neighborhood but not so within the area directly adjacent to the proposed development, where there are between five to nine available on-street parking stalls available every day of the week. I know this to be the case because I use the nearby post office on a regular basis and have made a point of observing the parking situation over recent months because of concerns raised by Waluga residents. Unfortunately, I'll not be surprised to suddenly see cars occupying these spaces now that I've gone public with my observations.
Third, Novak discounts the proposal of the Lake Grove Presbyterian Church to accommodate any overflow parking from this project as being unworkable and impractical. In doing so he conveniently omits the fact that along with this parking arrangement the church also proposes to provide free shuttle service to the nearby project. Given the close-mindedness he's displayed at DRC meetings he will undoubtedly pronounce this service as unworkable and impractical without knowing anything about the details for this operation.
Fourth, his suggestion that approval of this project will set a 'terrible precedent' for the city when dealing with 'deep pocketed developers like Wal-Mart' is absurd. There is no precedent being set for building code standards because the project meets or exceeds those requirements. Further, there are no precedents being set for zoning code standards inasmuch as the project meets setback requirements, height restrictions, land area coverage, and parking, given the accommodations being proposed by the development team by agreeing to certain parking restrictions along with provisions for off-site parking and shuttle services.
Fifth, concerning the removal of trees, the development proposal includes the preservation of a far greater number of trees than most other permitted uses, including Mr. Novak's own suggestion for a development of four-single family homes. Given the collective floor plate coverage of four separate structures along with necessary driveways and walks, this configuration could easily result in the removal of nearly all existing vegetation.
To sum up, Novak's arguments regarding site coverage and building size, parking, bad precedents and tree removal issues have been more than sufficiently addressed and it's time to allow this project to move forward. Continuing to regurgitate unsubstantiated arguments in the face of responsive and well-conceived solutions offered by the development team will eventually expose the motivations behind the opposition being posed by him and others representing the Waluga neighborhood for what they truly are.
Rick Parfrey is a resident of Lake Oswego.