City Council overturns DRC, approves new events center
Development of a proposed four-story office building and events center in downtown Lake Oswego was approved by the City Council on Tuesday in a decision that overturned an earlier Development Review Commission ruling against the project.
The DRC voted 3-2 last month to deny the application based on concerns about the building's exterior design, height and number of parking spaces.
The developers — who say their goal is to provide a venue for large gatherings and celebrations, which Lake Oswego currently lacks — appealed the decision, triggering Tuesday's City Council hearing.
Making his case to the council, developer Miles Haladay said use of the events center could be limited during working hours when offices in the building would need more parking. On evenings and weekends when the offices are empty, all of the parking spaces would be available for full-capacity events.
"An events center, by its very nature, can limit attendance at different times," he said. "It's something you sell weeks and months in advance."
Several councilors praised the building's design, although Councilor Theresa Kohlhoff said she didn't think it represented the Lake Oswego architectural style. She also expressed skepticism about whether the parking plan would work in practice.
"I can live with everything else, but I'm struggling with the parking," she said. "I just don't think that the condition is doable."
Still, she ultimately joined the other councilors in voting for the project, and the DRC's decision was unanimously overturned.
Also on Tuesday
—The council took a first step toward possibly allowing Airbnb and other short-term rental (STR) hosts to operate in Lake Oswego. City code currently bans rentals shorter than 30 days; the council considered changing the rules last year, but ultimately voted to keep them in place and step up enforcement.
A strong response from some of the city's would-be STR hosts prompted the council to take another look at the issue, and the group voted 4-3 on Tuesday to direct staff to prepare a list of possible changes to the code to allow STRs, subject to certain restrictions.
—The council considered a series of rate-increase requests from municipal garbage and recycling collector Republic Services, prompted in part by rising recycling costs in the wake of a decision by China last year to crack down on the level of acceptable contamination in imported plastics.
Republic Services requested a 6.5 percent rate increase and a new $2.50 monthly surcharge for residential recycling, and asked for future rate increases to be annual and tied to the Consumer Price Index. (Rate increases are currently biannual and require council approval). The company also asked the City to extend its franchise agreement five years beyond its scheduled 2022 expiration date.
The council declined to vote on any of the requests at Tuesday's meeting, instead directing City staff to set up a franchise midterm review with Republic Services that would include evaluating each of the proposals.