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Evergreen Neighborhood opposes Wizer Block development

During the week of July 11, 82 percent of the 177 Evergreen Neighborhood Association (ENA) members who voted were opposed to the current design of the development of Block 137 (the Wizer Block). This vote was not anti-development or fear of change, but was because of the project itself. Here is why.

The scale, use and density of the proposal are inconsistent with the other blocks within the downtown “compact shopping district.” As well, there are traffic and parking issues.

The scale proposed is much bigger than on the surrounding blocks. There is nothing in the four-block area that is over two stories; the proposal is for four stories.

The four-block downtown district is to be for retail and commercial use, according to City plans; this proposal is 87-percent residential as its primary use. This high residential component is simply not what was intended for this block. The 207 households are too dense. They will increase the size of the Evergreen neighborhood by 50 percent! That is too many people for one city block.

Traffic on First and Second streets is already nearly maxed out for “local” streets, which is what they are classified in City plans. A Avenue is near its maximum, and State Street (Hwy. 43) is also near maximum capacity and likely beyond that at rush hour. No consideration has been given to any increased traffic on local streets, as there has been no traffic study of local streets. Evergreen Road runs straight through our neighborhood and is a likely alternate to a crowded A Avenue for Block 137 residents.

Parking for the proposed development is clearly inadequate by any reasonable measure. City measures allow for a 33-percent reduction in parking requirements for being downtown, pedestrian, transit and street parking, so that only 155 spaces are required for the retail/commercial portion of the project; however, the street parking is already almost fully occupied, so it is unclear how this can be counted in the project’s favor.

The residential portion of the project proposes 268 parking spaces, but City staff has said that 53 of those spaces must be reserved for visitors, leaving only 215 spaces for residents. Thirty-three spaces have been created using “lifts” so that two cars are parked in one space, a first for Lake Oswego and unapproved at this time. But even with the lifts, there is clearly not enough residential parking without significant assumptions about how many people will ride bikes or take transit.

In summary, ENA opposes this development by a 4-to-1 margin. The project is not consistent with our “village character” and not retail-oriented per the “compact shopping district” envisioned for these downtown blocks, and it does not adequately address traffic and parking issues.

When Lake View Village was reviewed, ENA testified in support of the project. Working with City staff and the developer, all issues were addressed before the project came before the Development Review Commission. We are saddened that we must oppose this project, but we must deal with reality and this project is just too big, too dense, not retail and lacks adequate traffic mitigation and parking.

This article was written by Lake Oswego resident Gerry Good on behalf of the Evergreen Neighborhood Association.




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