About 200 people attended the Feb. 27 Lake Oswego Planning Commission meeting due to the issue of increased public access to Oswego Lake.
Most of the attendees were Lake Corp. shareholders and they were adamant about their concerns for their property rights and property values. They had significant support from key area Realtors and the Lake Oswego School District. LOSD superintendent, Dr. Bill Korach, and school board chair, John Wendland, testified that lake front properties are too valuable to our community as a whole to devalue by increasing public access to the lake. But, aren't the private residential properties and rights of all residents important and valuable to our community?
This issue of devaluing private residential property via the city's comprehensive plan policies extends far beyond the lake access issue and is not a new one in our community. The city's comprehensive plan contains other policies that are blatantly disrespectful of citizens' rights or written in such a broad way that they are later interpreted as code that infringes on citizens' rights.
Examples include the policy that states that during development review, property owners along the Willamette riverfront are required to provide easements to their river front property for a pathway. This is considered important for 'Community Culture' and recreation, but what does it do to the property values of the riverfront owner? And, there's also the arbitrary taking of private property by 'sensitive lands' land use restrictions under the disingenuous claims of environmental protection. We already know that the arbitrary 'sensitive lands' land use restrictions have devalued property and made it unsellable for many people, and yet the council allows this program to continue with properties being added on an on-going basis.
These policies and practices take from current tax-paying citizens with the claims that they are needed to secure the future of Lake Oswego. We're told that these policies are for the greater good of our community. The comp plan is used as the justification for these intrusive policies that not only devalue citizens' properties but also create division and anger in our community. But there is no community benefit from policies that devalue any of our residential properties - lake front, riverfront or upland. And, there is no 'community' when the rights of some are sacrificed for others.
During the planning commission meeting, LO Stewards board member Lauren Hughes gave testimony proposing a policy addition to the city's comprehensive plan that relates to our 'Community Culture:' 'In all that we do, first respect the rights and property of our citizens.'
A culture of respect for citizens' rights and property rights would solve a lot of the 'division' that we have in our community. Our 'community culture' should be one that values and respects all citizens and their rights no matter what neighborhood they live in. And, that's what will make Lake Oswego a desirable place to live.
For more information, please go to www.lostewards.org .
Bob Thompson, Lake Oswego, is treasurer of LO Stewards PAC.