City council reviews comprehensive plan
The comprehensive plan is essentially a land use plan required of each city. Our present comprehensive plan was adopted in 1994 and, like most things almost 20 years old, it needs modification.
When reviewed it may not need wholesale revision, but it will certainly need to be brought into compliance with present laws and regulations. Once adopted the plan will guide development in this city for many future years so lets get it right.
On April 2, the city council held a study session marking the beginning of its review of the comprehensive plan. The proposed plan is a product of three years of work by the citizens advisory committee (the CAC) and the planning commission. That process has cost the city more than $1 million in staff time and outside consulting.
Our present efforts as a council are focused on the work product so far, to see if it is going in the direction we believe our constituents want. Then we will give direction to the planning commission for any changes prior to final recommendation by that commission, followed next with adoption by city council. To date, this process has taken so much longer than necessary. We must accelerate our actions.
Contrary to some allegations, the council is not interested in throwing out all the proposed revisions to the plan. On the contrary, we suggest retaining most of the proposals. But some specifics must be addressed.
First, we want to take out subjects that are not land use items. For example, policies about arts and culture do not belong in a land use plan. When a city is involved in fostering the arts, it is a budgetary issue and should be handled by the citizens budget committee.
Another example of specific changes in direction is the issue of density. It is clear to me that few people want increased housing density in their neighborhood. So the current council will be very careful to make sure the plan does not foster high density creep into neighborhoods, which is very possible under the current proposed plan.
Further, our citizens do not seem to be as focused on developing the walkable communities as the current proposal suggests. Certainly, a recent survey for Lake Oswego by a firm who developed the Portland Plan does not bear that out when one reads the details.
In short, the council is working to carry out its obligations and bring to fruition an updated comprehensive plan. A plan that reflects the views of a majority of its citizens. We sincerely appreciate the work of members of both the CAC and the planning commission. Much of their efforts will be unchanged. But some modifications will be made through a public hearing process in order to better reflect the views of the majority of our citizens.
Flexibility is key to our future. Lets not saddle generations to come with old ideas. Modifications, modern views, moderation and balance are essential.
Kent Studebaker is the mayor of Lake Oswego.
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