Not all development is progress
I bought an adorable midcentury modern on Cedar Street in Lake Oswego a year ago. I chose the city and the neighborhood with care. Our neighborhood is a collection of smaller cottages, bungalows, ranches and single-family homes with yards as well as considerable green space.
Although we have limited infrastructure, narrow roads and no sidewalks, I was not overly concerned because the neighborhood is fairly small. But now the Craigs and developer Roger Edwards of Silver Oak Custom Homes want to remake our neighborhood, putting 16 homes where six formerly stood. The plan that we are currently aware of includes cutting down trees, paving over green space and building four tall, narrow, three- and four-bedroom homes on a lot currently zoned for two.
I am for progress and would enjoy seeing my neighborhood revitalized with responsible building in keeping with its character, but that is not what is being done here. Nor is any infrastructure being improved to handle the added traffic and people.
Although I truly feel the City Council has listened and is empathetic to the neighborhoods concerns, they appear powerless. And the paid bureaucrats who make up our city planning department do not appear to care. Why is Lake Oswego using platting from the 1800s, which allows a developer to put five homes on land zoned for two? When this platting system was designed, we did not even have cars on the roads. How can a builder be allowed to begin a 16-home project, submitting it in small pieces so that approvals can be made in a ministerial matter with no oversight or planning?
I know some people think that we cannot stand in the way of progress. This situation brings to mind the beautiful and picturesque oceanfront village of Gearhart, a town of Cape Cod-style, shingled homes on the Oregon Coast. As you drive down the road bordering the beach, the homes and gardens are truly charming. Then suddenly, rising in front of you and blocking the ocean view, is a concrete, multilevel condominium complex with a style reminiscent of an Eastern European apartment building constructed during Communism. I am sure when it was put in many years ago, some said it was progress. But anyone visiting Gearhart today knows its just an eyesore. Not all development is progress.
I hope that the planners and city officials will honor their commitment to balance the rights of landowners, who wish to sell their land, with the rights of property owners who desire to enjoy and feel safe in their neighborhoods. What is going on right now is not balanced, it is not progress and I am afraid it will be the eyesore that I will be living next to.
Be aware of the large number of homes in Lake Oswego that are being bought by developers. The next eyesore could be coming to a neighborhood near you. It does not appear at present that the people we have elected can do anything about it. This needs to change so that the Lake Oswego we know and love can remain the place we are happy to call home.
Melissa A. Lavin is a Lake Oswego resident.
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