By approving Wizer proposal, mayorand council ignored will of the people
Mayor Kent Studebaker and four other City Council members recently overturned the Development Review Commissions decision to deny the current Wizer Block proposal. The mayors election pledge was to preserve Lake Oswegos current character and prevent high density in our neighborhoods. His vote in favor of the project is really a vote against the constituency that elected him a constituency that strongly opposed the project.
Councilman Jeff Gudman, who is up for re-election, also voted to support this ill-conceived development. Maybe it is time to take a second look at some of our elected officials in the upcoming elections, because if this project proceeds, our Council will be responsible for looking to revenue instead of listening to the voice of the people, who overwhelmingly said this massive development is simply too much for our beautiful downtown.
Three buildings, none of which would fit on a Portland city block because of their size, are not in keeping with city codes that call for small-scale structures. The current proposal is three times the size of its neighboring structures. This massive complex is 286,000 square feet, which is more square footage than Lake Oswego High School.
Did the council members who voted to endorse this massive complex not hear the cries from the Evergreen Neighborhood Association, whose members voted overwhelming against this proposal? Did they think it wasnt necessary to listen to the critical concerns the citizens had? After all, Evergreens residential density was going to increase by almost 50 percent in a one-square-block radius.
Lake Oswegos neighborhoods are important not just our own. The word village is synonymous with Lake Oswego. Village on the Lake set a wonderful standard for village character, as did Lake View Village and the Oswego Village townhomes. It is concerning that the word village is under consideration for removal from our codes. It is apparent we are at a crossroads in the direction our city staff and Council wants to take us.
Growth is important for any community, but it needs to reflect our time-honored village lifestyle and not undo everything we have done in the past decades to make our town beautiful. We have a proud legacy of one of the very few vibrant, special cities in America with true village character.
Save Our Village will continue to speak out and take the necessary steps to preserve the village qualities of Lake Oswego. Save Our Village is not anti-development. This is a protest against misplaced, inappropriate and harmful development. This is an appeal for common sense. Urban density is a reality, but it should not occur at the price of urban chaos.
The DRC should be commended for the hours spent looking at the Wizer project twice. They told developer Patrick Kessi to break up the buildings into smaller structures; he did not. Choices were made by Mr. Kessi; he chose to disregard our voices and chose to stick with big money, big politics and big apartments. Save Our Village chooses to appeal.
Lita Grigg is a Lake Oswego resident and the founder of Save Our Village. For more information, go to saveourvillagelo.com.
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