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Prior city officials put the code there for a reason

My wife and I are relatively new residents to Lake Oswego who are writing to voice our opposition to the Wizer block development.

After 40 years of living in Los Angeles County, my wife and I chose Oregon and, specifically, Lake Oswego to precisely get away from over-development, traffic, crowds (including 40-plus-student-per-classroom schools), pollution (especially noise pollution), crime and a lot of other chaos that comes from crowding. We have a lot of experience living with the consequences of developers building new housing in areas that are many times already too congested.

(Before the city is the proposed) construction of a 220- apartment and shopping complex that could house as many as 400 new residents in our downtown core. This redevelopment project will be given to the Development Review Commission to review.

It is perplexing that the city of Lake Oswego is entertaining this development despite that it contradicts the city’s own code, which describes Lake Oswego as a “community of small-scale structures that appears and operates like a traditional small town.” The city’s own code also states that “new buildings shall be no greater than three stories tall” with some exceptions made for four-story buildings. But here we have the city ... entertaining the construction of a five-story complex.

What concerns my wife and I most of all is the precedence that is set when a city ignores its own codes and credos. If this five-story complex is allowed to be built, it isn’t likely to be the last. It is more likely that similar or larger structures will follow. Future advocates of housing expansion within Lake Oswego will jubilantly point to the Wizer block development as a precedent.

During the course of my lifetime I watched numerous cities in South Bay area of Southern California (specifically Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, El Segundo and, to a lesser extent, Manhattan Beach) over-build. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, when I was growing up, all these towns were “small beach towns.” But over a 40-year period, single plot residences were torn down and replaced with two, three and sometimes four residences (and small apartment complexes) across entire cities. The end result is overcrowding in every imaginable way. Traffic isn’t measured in one or two hours a day, but is measured in eight to 12 hours per day — with moderate to heavy traffic whenever it isn’t full-blown gridlock. Time and again, residents were calmed by builders’ and city officials’ promises that fears of excessive traffic and overcrowding were unwarranted. But fast-forward to today, the reality of South Bay speaks differently, and it is the people of each respective community that are left to live with the daily unyielding congestion that is everywhere all hours of the day and night year in and year out.

My wife and I have fallen in love with this town. We hope that the city council of Lake Oswego and the DRC will honor and uphold the city’s own code and preserve that small town feel. We hope that they will recognize and appreciate that prior city officials put the code there for a reason.

Stephen and Noelle Pusztai are residents of Lake Oswego.




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