The pillars of our community character are changing
Lettin the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier n puttin it back in.
Twenty-three years ago we moved to Lake Oswego because the community represented many of our core values. It was clear to us that the community character was represented by unique people and local institutions. The school system was excellent, the library was widely supported by the community and local government encouraged residents to invest in their properties, rather than burden them with fees and red tape.
Low density uniquely typified the city in what is now often referred to as a village culture.
The city focused its efforts on public safety, parks and street projects versus expanding its influence in nonessential areas. Lake Oswego just seemed to be a very well-run city that had enormous support from its citizens. With its stellar reputation, it sure seemed to us to be very unique.
Over the past 10 years weve seen dramatic shifts in these elements of our community character. I began hearing about these changes five years ago from citizens who were telling me the library wasnt necessarily the core pillar of the community I thought it was. Frankly, I was stunned, but it came from many on the west side that believed the library just didnt meet their needs with its current distribution of services. When the library bond failed miserably, without any organized opposition, it was no surprise. It was a symbol of an evolving change in our community character.
That pillar of unobtrusive local government has also changed dramatically. Its no secret that many residents now believe some officials overreached their authority by trying to impose their agenda on our community. Sensitive lands, WEB purchase, streetcar, fee increases, water projects and others have generated a well-organized Oswego revolt over the past five years.
In the end, though, the final result is simply that our former pillar of an unobtrusive local government was shattered. How? It was shattered by a well-defined political ideology, coming from Portland and carried through by local officials.
Today the final pillar of a low-density community seems to be under attack. Many thought they fought off this challenge with the outcome of recent elections and the demise of the streetcar charade. Unfortunately, it seems that belief may have been premature. Now, the question is will our citizens allow that final pillar to be taken down? If they do it will change our community character forever. Lake Oswego will just become another suburb of Portland.
Hopefully, residents will continue to engage and dissuade elected officials from making decisions that impose a new community character upon them. Good governance requires that officials act with the informed consent of the community. Thats something past administrations thought they could avoid. Thankfully they seem to have failed, but lets see if this continues in Lake Oswego.
The pillars may be changing but many are still very strong. The passage of the recent school operating levy is a prime example. But these pillars only remain strong when citizens support them through actions which ensure not only our institutions but also our elected officials dont overextend their authority.
Feel free to visit the COLA blog at commonsenselo.blogspot.com.
Dave Berg is a 23-year resident of Lake Oswego, a board member of COLA LO and chairman of the Lake Oswego Budget Committee.Add a comment