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Citizen's View: City should audit environmental regulations

A management audit of all Lake Oswego environmental regulations and practices needs to be conducted immediately, preferably before enactment of revisions to the Lake Oswego Stormwater Policy Manual.

The audit should be modeled on previous code audit projects conducted between 2009 and 2013, and the same consultant, Clarion Associates, should be employed. Otherwise, substantial costs to residents within the Lake Oswego Comprehensive Plan area will likely be codified and permanently encumbered, with limited possibility of change.

Change if attempted will judged by authorities with agendas beyond the control of Lake Oswego-area citizens. In my opinion, the 2015-16 Lake Oswego City Council — under the guidance of City Manager Scott Lazenby, City Engineer Erica Rooney and Stormwater Quality Program Coordinator Anne MacDonald, along with Planning Director Scot Siegel — have enabled fundamental and significant change in land use policy and municipal codes, with unknown, ongoing and ever-expanding budget impacts. These rules affect residents, realtors, developers, neighborhoods and all manner of property owners.

The costs of these regulations will not become visible until you attempt to change an attribute of your property — be it structure addition, landscaping modification or ownership transfer. Then the full power and impact of environmental regulations will descend upon your family and wallet, likely enforced by potentially capricious practices, as in the past with Sensitive Lands ordinances. Enforcement will be coupled with remote sensing by LiDAR, which negates the necessity by public servants to request permission for on-site property inspection.

What are the classes of Lake Oswego environmental regulations that likely will result in no measurable benefit to the environment? Classes currently include the following four programs: TMDL Implementation Plan, Sensitive Lands, Tree Code and Stormwater Management.

Good luck finding a consolidated portal on the Lake Oswego city website with regard to these regulation classes and their invisible costs, technology risks and benefits, let alone information about the impacts to your property. Do not bother asking public servants about regulation enforcement or budget impacts. Heaven help you if change occurs in your neighborhood upstream of your tax lot in a given drainage basin.

Please join me and give public testimony to the City Council at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 16, when councilors will consider enacting ordinances 2695 and 2696. Request an audit of all Lake Oswego environmental regulations and their unseen impacts prior to enactment by the council, or prepare to pay in personal time and treasure for environmental regulations that will have limited environmental benefit and provide no comprehensive solution to stormwater drainage issues.

Charles “Skip” Ormsby is co-chairman of the Birdshill Community Planning Organization/Neighborhood Association.