Remove sensitive lands from private property
During the Jan. 10 Lake Oswego City Council meeting, councilor (Bill) Tierney read a statement about his change of heart regarding the streetcar project. In the statement, he said:
'I believe we need to focus on paying attention to the immediate needs of the community and dealing with the issues that have called into question the credibility of government and public service.'
We couldn't agree more. The time has come for our city council to start mending fences with citizens and the first place to start is with the removal of 'sensitive lands' permanent land use restrictions from all private residential property.
This isn't difficult to do. It's as simple as the council establishing a policy that the 'sensitive lands' program should be removed from all private residential property and retained for public land only.
In fact, Metro President Tom Hughes has advised members of the council work group that changes can be made in 2012 and that the 'no rollback provision' is not a barrier to change. Additionally, other Metro staff has advised that there is absolutely no need to add more private properties to the 'sensitive lands' program. Metro has said the changes are in the city council's court. So, if there is any obstruction or barriers to change, they are only within our own city government.
The 'sensitive lands' program was first established in 1997/1998 as a 'trade' (off-site mitigation) to allow less regulation of large water and floodplain areas. The city created the 'sensitive lands' program and made a decision to apply permanent land use restrictions to arbitrarily selected upland tree areas and small drainage areas in exchange for less water regulation. This 'trade' was not well understood until the city made a second pass at trying to add several hundred more private properties to 'sensitive lands' in 2008. And, at that point, many citizens came together to advocate for their rights and expose this unconscionable and divisive program.
While the properties targeted in 2008 have yet to be added to the 'sensitive lands' program, citizens and city have been locked in a lengthy and contentious battle over this arbitrary and damaging 'trade' of private residential property to allow development in areas considered to have greater economic potential. If trades are needed, then public lands, not citizens' private backyards, should be the trade.
Yes, we agree with Tierney, the time has come to bridge the divide between citizens and city. We hope that the city council can use 2012 as a time for a fresh start with citizens, including LO Stewards. It's time for the city council to deal with the issues that have called into question the credibility of government and public service, and removing 'sensitive lands' from private residential property would be an excellent start at mending the division in our community.
For more information, see our website at www.lostewards.org .
Bob Thompson, Lake Oswego, is a member of LO Stewards PAC.