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'Stop this overdevelopment as you promised'

Those who favor three massive apartment buildings in the heart of downtown have a new spin. They claim “by introducing architecture and design that is inspired by the acceptable LO styles (as opposed to a simplistic replication of the styles), a true village-like character can be achieved.”

In other words, according to those who want 220 apartments in four to five stories on our small town square, Lake View Village is “simplistic” and not in true village-like character. They want you to believe that the developer’s blocky, stark institutional buildings without charm are the “true” village style. I urge concerned citizens to view the proposed plans at city hall. This assault on the inviting characteristic features of Lake View Village and our small-town lifestyle is reprehensible.

When residents talk about Block 137, they use words like “monster machine,” and one question always comes up: What happened to Mayor Kent Studebaker and the city councilors who ran a campaign of transparency and a willingness to maintain our community character? Mayor Studebaker, here are your words: “I am committed to preserving ... Lake Oswego” and to “prevent high density infill.”

Public outcry at council meetings, letters to city staff and to the editor, the Evergreen Neighborhood Association survey and vote, have all overwhelmingly opposed this Wizer redevelopment. Mr. Mayor, you said on July 11, 2012, “Lake Oswego is a great place, I’d like to make sure we maintain that quality and character of the town. This is a wonderful town, which can move forward in a way that the majority of citizens can embrace.”

Yet, during the public hearing, despite overwhelming negative public testimony, the council sent the proposal to the development review commission. This council believes it knows better than its constituents what is best for our city. Over and over citizens stated we want to maintain our village character calling for two- or three-story buildings. No matter how you spin it, five-story buildings do not meet code. Some on this council have even tried to define village character as our “great educational system” or “parks” when they know that character means small-scale buildings that complement downtown per code. Signaling a done deal, one councilor expressed more concern that mature trees be planted than any serious concern over the effect of the noncompliant height and mass of the three buildings.

None of us is allowed to develop our property any which way we want. Lake Oswego has restrictions and codes to protect our city and our way of life from overzealous developments. I could not build a five-story building on my property. Gene Wizer may or may not have known this project would require exceptions. Mr. Mayor and city council, you knew Gene’s redevelopment would be a hard sell, but, you forged ahead despite public testimony against the project. I am amazed at the top-down, staff-driven decisions that ignored public input.  

Mr. Mayor and council, we put you in office because you pledged that you would protect LO from high density and preserve LO’s character. Your constituents do not consider this to be a frivolous matter that will be forgotten. We vote. We care deeply about our town. Stop this overdevelopment as you promised during the campaign.

Leslie Pirrotta, Lake Oswego, is a founding member of Save Our Village political action committee.




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