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Connected Community meeting a concern?

As a founding board member of LO Stewards, I have kept a close eye on city activities related to ordinances and programs that impact our properties.

At a recent comprehensive plan citizens advisory committee meeting, I learned about the Connected Community (meaning transportation) Open House scheduled for Thursday, April 12 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the West End Building. I have serious concerns about this meeting and the potential impact on private property owners throughout Lake Oswego.

An element of this meeting sets a new standard of intrusiveness on private property owners as maps of Lake Oswego neighborhoods will be provided and attendees will be encouraged to draw where they would like to see pathways - even through private residential properties. This free-for-all for anyone who covets access through a private property area could leave your property marked for a future pathway easement all in the name of 'transportation' and 'walkability.'

And, as has already happened with the public pathway being created through once private areas along the Willamette Riverfront, these easements can require the private property owners to bear the burden of construction and maintenance costs of the pathways.

I questioned this pathway mapping process at the CAC meeting, but my concerns about the rights of private property owners were dismissed. I also brought up the landmark Dolan Supreme Court ruling that was a victory for private property owners and ruled against cities taking public access easements for pathways on private property. Again, my concerns were dismissed.

Keeping citizens in a fog regarding property rights here in LO, historically, has been the rule. If you don't know your rights, you don't have any. Thanks to the work of LO Stewards, today there is more awareness of sublime, unreasonable procedures and ordinances, particularly related to the arbitrary and inequitable 'sensitive lands' land use restriction program. But, by inviting the community to identify private property for future pathways, this ongoing disrespect of the rights and property of citizens is furthered and solidified via the comprehensive plan process.

This open house can be viewed as a creatively enacted, compulsory process for obtaining property without due process and without compensation, in spite of a Supreme Court ruling. And, it continues the city's practice of pitting neighbor against neighbor by allowing 'neighbors' to essentially trespass with this mapping process.

It's critical to attend the April 12 meeting and protect your rights. By not attending, you risk your property being targeted for a potential future public pathway without your knowledge. Unless you attend, you will not know who covets access to your property and who is asserting their own selfish interests for access where, today, they would risk trespass. If you like privacy and safety, having your property identified for a pathway is a pretty awful thing.

If you don't use your rights, you lose them. I urge you to attend the open house on Thursday, April 12 at 4 to 7 p.m. at the West End Building, so you can defend your own liberty and property.

Carolyne R. Jones is a resident of Lake Oswego.

Editor's note: Christine Kirk, the city's public affairs manager, responds:

'The April 12 open house is the kick-off meeting to update the transportation portions of the comprehensive plan.  At the April 12 open house, community members will share ideas on a wide range of topics including: Transit service, roadway and intersection problems, bikeway and pathway needs, pedestrian safety and financing strategies for transportation improvements. The brainstorming will give ideas on how people will get around Lake Oswego over the next 20 to 30 years. The work will result in a plan for a network of sidewalks, pathways, bikeways, streets and transit service.

'Maps will be on display to show the transportation improvements identified in existing city plans. Maps will also provide an opportunity for the public to identify other transportation issues or needed improvements, which appear to be the area of concern in the letter.  While people will brainstorm improvements, neither the intent nor the result of a pen mark on the paper will be leaving private property 'marked for a future pathway easement.' In having the community identify where transportation improvements are needed or could be make, the city can look at possibilities in the city's right of way as well as to new development where there is a requirement to offset the developments' transportation impacts as allowed within the law. Such projects may bring new sidewalks, for example, that would become part of the city network and the city would ultimately be responsible to maintain.   

 'For more information on the event and development of the transportation system plan, go to welovelakeoswego.com.'



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