Lake Oswego is a cornucopia of wonderful natural resources. Trees, water, fish and wildlife are an integral part of our city character and we must all work together to both protect and wisely use those resources. Balance is the key. We must find the best way to be great caretakers of our environment and also honor our commitment to intrude less into the rights of our citizens on their own property. Kent Studebaker

Over time the “creep” of intrusive government regulations, and the “sensitive lands” program specifically, has imposed heavy burdens on select Lake Oswego city residents. As a means of conforming to Metro regulations, the city created the unique sensitive lands program that has been a source of a great deal of concern from citizens and Realtors. A majority of our city councilors and I want to change that approach to one that is more fair and balanced and addresses the concerns.

We believe we can comply with Metro and state rules by removing private properties from sensitive lands designations, allowing all residential property to be regulated under the community development and tree codes that provide a multitude of effective environmental protections, and place the sensitive lands designation, where sensible, on more publicly owned property.

I know of no one who is talking about pillaging and plundering our land. We are talking about a balanced approach and a change in policy that would better achieve the goal of protecting truly significant sensitive natural resources. It makes far more sense to safeguard our higher quality habitat public lands for the long term than over-regulate residential property.

We have many tracts of undeveloped or underdeveloped land owned by the city that is more appropriate for “sensitive lands” designations. Furthermore, many of our parks have been assessed and found to be in only “fair” or “poor” condition. With better maintenance and restoration efforts, they in turn would be enhanced and would be attractive as healthy wildlife habitat. By putting resources behind the care of our publicly owned undeveloped or underdeveloped land, rather than 203 acres of citizens’ yards, we would more rapidly achieve our protection goals.

There is no question that regulations are needed to protect our environment, but we have lost sight of our balance and what we are trying to achieve. Teddy Roosevelt said “the nation behaves well if it treats the national resources as assets, which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value.”

I wholeheartedly agree with his sentiment. Lake Oswego should protect its public environmental assets and hand them over to our children and grandchildren in an improved state with added value. I believe that our proposal to remove sensitive lands designations from private property and put that sensitive lands designation, where necessary, on public property will do just that. We will honor our commitment to the rights of our citizens, we will have a better sensitive lands program and we will have citizens and our city living in improved environmental harmony.

Kent Studebaker is the mayor of Lake Oswego.

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