WL council talks surplus properties, previews 2018 Legislature
An exceptionally busy month for the West Linn City Council — with a total of eight meetings on the docket for January — began with a work session Jan. 2 and a regular meeting Jan. 8, during which the council addressed everything from the upcoming legislative short session to the future of the old city hall building and the designations of new surplus properties.
Surplus on Skyline
On the heels of last year's completion of the new Bolton Reservoir, the City Council voted 4-1 Monday, Jan. 8 to declare two properties adjacent to the site — at 6175 Skyline Drive and 6123 Skyline Drive — as surplus.
That designation means that the City Manager can "undertake any reasonable methods for pricing, advertising, marketing and selling the property," though any potential sale would have to come back to the council for final approval.
When the properties were acquired in 2015 for staging and facilitation purposes during construction of the reservoir, the intention was for the City to sell the properties once construction was complete and deposit the proceeds into the City's water fund.
The council was largely on board with this plan, though City Councilor Rich Sakelik was concerned about moving too fast before other potential use options at the properties could be considered.
"If we approve it and it goes into that process and goes up on the market for sales and people come in with offers and we go in a different direction, I think we're misleading the public and we're asking ourselves for some potential issues," Sakelik said.
Mayor Russ Axelrod and Public Work Director Lance Calvert said that residents in the area were expecting the properties to be sold and used for the single-family homes they were originally designated as.
In the end, the council opted to at least get that process started by declaring the properties as surplus, while leaving the door open for other potential uses to be considered at a future work session.
Looking at the Legislature
Doug Riggs, a lobbyist who works on behalf of the City of West Linn, appeared before the City Council at a Jan. 2 work session to share his read on the upcoming 2018 short session of the Oregon Legislature.
Riggs said he expected the 35-day session to be hectic, and that its direction would be largely determined by the results of a Jan. 23 special election on Measure 101.
At stake in that vote is a health care provider tax that was approved by the Legislature in 2017 as a short-term measure to fund the state's Medicaid system.
"If Measure 101 passes, then an awful lot of other things might be addressed (during the session)," Riggs said. "If it fails, the state has a budget hole — they have about 350-to-400,000 people who suddenly have no health coverage."
Beyond health care, another big picture issue that could define the 2018 session relates to "cap-and-invest" — a system that places a limit on annual carbon dioxide emissions from businesses.
"(It) would essentially limit industrial (carbon dioxide) output for environmental purposes," Riggs said, adding that the Oregon House of Representatives and Senate are divided on how to approach the issue.
"It's not only a philosophical disagreement between the majority of the House and majority of the Senate, it's also a disagreement on what is doable in a short session," Riggs said.
"The House is proposing, with a couple Senate members, this cap-and-invest proposal and the Senate president and even several Democratic colleagues have said this is way too big of a bite at the apple to take in a 35-day session.
"The odds that the Senate will be able to come to an agreement in a very limited amount of time to get it passed are pretty limited."
Riggs also noted that some significant changes in personnel will be seen at the 2018 Legislature, with longtime Senators Richard Devlin, D-Tualatin, and Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, departing and being replaced by new appointments just before the session begins.
"I talked to (Clackamas County) and the appointment for Devlin's seat will be on Jan. 29," Riggs said. "They'll have to jump in Feb. 5 and start serving in the Legislature, so that's going to be a challenge for anyone who is appointed."
He added that, "I think this is the tip of the iceberg. I would expect more retirements by the end of the year."
Old city hall
The City and Clackamas County Tourism & Cultural Affairs (CCTCA, also known as Oregon's Mt. Hood Territory) continue to work towards a potential agreement which would allow CCTCA to move into the vacant old city hall building.
"We've sent potential terms (of agreement) to Clackamas County Tourism," City Manager Eileen Stein said in an update to the council Jan 2. "(Those) will eventually get incorporated into a master use agreement and we'll bring that back for council review when that's ready."
The old city hall — which also served as a police station before a new building was completed in 2014 — is one of two "underutilized properties" that the City issued a Request for Information/Proposals (RIFP) on in late 2016.
In March 2017, CCTCA submitted its proposal for the cultural center, and the City Council was initially receptive to the idea — particularly if CCTCA was willing to fund a significant amount of the necessary improvements to the aging building.
At a Nov. 20 City Council meeting, CCTCA said it hoped for a "partnership agreement" with the City committing to use the building as a cultural center for at least 15 years, with an option to renegotiate the agreement if need be.
CCTCA and other partners would invest about $1 million in the repurposing of the building while also agreeing to cover ongoing maintenance and operations costs.
At that time, the council was split in its feelings about the idea, with three councilors speaking in favor while two felt that more information was needed before the City could approve the proposal.
Parking — or lack thereof — around the building was of particular concern, and at the Jan. 2 work session City Council President Brenda Perry suggested that the City should consider an ordinance that would designate several spaces on Mill Street specifically for use at the old city hall building.
"When we bring the agreement back for direction or further review, we still have that issue of how we're going to address parking," Stein said. "I don't know if Clackamas County Tourism has had any other discussions (about parking)."
High school parking
The council continues to search for potential solutions to a persistent shortage of student parking.
Mayor Russ Axelrod, for his part, has expressed interest in an idea to allow students to park in front of every other home on certain streets near the high school.
At the Jan. 8 meeting, he said that the Youth Advisory Council suggested a similar plan that would allow for student parking on one side of certain streets.
The council asked City staff to evaluate the area and determine if any of those options are feasible — and how many spaces might be generated by the change.
That work will be done in advance of a joint meeting between the City Council and West Linn-Wilsonville School District that is likely to occur in late January or early February.