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'Every generation should support this proposal'

As a 20-something city councilor, I was often the lone “youth” voice weighing-in on issues facing the city. Now that I have moved back to LO after law school, I have noticed that this perspective is still missing from the debate, so here I go again. I support the proposed development on the Wizers’ property (Block 137) for the following reasons:

1. It adheres to the height and density requirements of the code. While the proposal requests an exception for a fifth story, this does not push it over the 60-foot height limit. The three proposed buildings range from 47 to 58 feet. This project is congruent with the height limits contemplated by this community when the code was drafted.

2. As a general rule, we should be OK with proposals that fit within the code. We set rules in anticipation of development, so landowners and neighbors know what to expect. If we want more stringent requirements, then we amend the code. Challenging projects on a case-by-case basis creates a bad precedent and discourages developers from wanting to invest in our community. Let’s be careful about rejecting projects that fit within the code and are the result of a collaborative and transparent design process with many documented public meetings.

3. Better utilizing Block 137 diffuses congestion by creating more points-of-interest and creating more connectivity between adjacent blocks. Any congestion experienced at Lake View Village can be directly traced to the fact that a large portion of downtown activity is concentrated in a single block with one parking lot with one entrance. By developing the adjacent lot, we diffuse some of that concentration by providing more public parking (135 parking spots reserved for retail and public use). Additionally, the proposal creates more pedestrian pathways and storefronts that will keep shoppers interested and moving up A Avenue and down Second Street toward B Avenue, where we have businesses that are currently isolated from the bustle of Lake View Village.

4. It’s good for business, and that’s good for the community. LO businesses provide an incredible amount of voluntary support to this community. Bringing more economic vitality downtown is good for existing businesses, and it provides opportunities for new businesses to set roots and invest here.

5. Increased tax revenue.

6. It provides jobs and activities for young people. Having attractive public spaces adjacent to retail and food provides opportunities for different generations to voluntarily occupy the same space, both as visitors and employees.

7. We should want to create opportunities for young professionals to move to LO. Many young professionals like a little density when it means they can walk to a grocery store, a coffee shop and a bar. New residents fall in love with LO. Let’s encourage young people to come, get attached and stay so that we encourage generational diversity. Then, when they are ready to buy a house for their growing children, they purchase here too.

8. Downtown residents are great economic drivers. Residents who chose to live on a higher-density block because they want to live in a walkable area consistently frequent the businesses within walking distance.

Young people want an interesting place to live, community support and a future with potential for improvement. Every generation should support this proposal.

Kristin Johnson, Lake Oswego, is a former city councilor in Lake Oswego.


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