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The Coalition challenged over sensitive lands stand

Recently, a new political group, “The Coalition,” circulated an email that claims that the city council’s decision to remove “sensitive lands” restrictions from private residential property is in “defiance of Oregon State laws.”

This statement is inaccurate, divisive, political, and intended to undermine the positive and respectful approach that the new mayor and council would like to take regarding citizens’ properties and Metro compliance. It is politics driven from a group that includes some ex-city councilors who supported the “sensitive lands” trade program while they were in office and consistently voted against citizens’ rights while also voting in favor of dense development (120 units/acre, 90-foot-tall buildings and 100 percent lot coverage) in the Foothills floodplain.

The new “sensitive lands” proposal does not defy state goals or Metro titles. Why? Because neither the state nor Metro requires trees and small drainage areas to be subject to the sort of extreme overregulation used in the “sensitive lands” trade program.

Many of the so called “streams” regulated under “sensitive lands” are nothing more than ditches that do not qualify under Metro guidelines for the sort of regulation imposed by “sensitive lands.” And, our most important tree groves are on public land, and have been sorely neglected to become overrun with ivy and blackberry and considered by a city consultant to be in “poor” condition.

The fact is that all of our residential properties are well protected with environmental regulations in the general code and tree code. In the past, the city has not submitted the majority of these regulations or the tree code to Metro for compliance. However, the new proposal would include these communitywide regulations towards compliance as well as retaining the “sensitive lands” program for our most valuable public natural resource areas.

The council’s new proposal does the following:

  • Treats all private residential property fairly and equitably under the same set of comprehensive general codes and tree code, rather than over-regulating 10 percent of private residential property owners via devaluing “sensitive lands.”
  • Adds almost 200 acres of public land to the “sensitive lands” program and provides long-term protections for our public resources.
  • Commits to maintenance and restoration of our public lands.
  • Engages the entire community in the protection of natural resources and stewardship of our properties via increased education and incentive programs.
  • Establishes programs for citizens to volunteer their properties, if they choose, for long-term conservation or “sensitive lands” type protections.
  • The new “sensitive lands” proposal is a commitment by the new council to put the old, divisive politics to rest, treat all residential property owners fairly and equitably, engage the entire community in a positive manner, and do a better job of caring for our important public natural resources. It’s a winning proposal, developed by a well-known land use attorney.

    Let’s not let The Coalition’s claims lead us back into the old divisive politics that treat some homeowners like second-class citizens and harm the spirit of our community. We now have an opportunity to heal the division in our community and create a better natural resources program. After all, the responsibility of Metro compliance and environmental protection in Lake Oswego should not be the political burden of 10 percent of us but rather the responsibility and commitment of 100 percent of us.

    David Streiff is a resident of Lake Oswego and a board member of LO Stewards.



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