Open houses an Orwellian time?
- Carolyne R. Jones
- Lake Oswego Review - Opinion
The two Natural Resources Inventory open houses held on Feb. 17 (for out-of-area residents) and March 6 (for Oswego residents), can be summed up with two words: 'Orwellian' experience.
The city hired a so-called facilitator to monitor communications, but the facilitator primarily functioned to interfere with communications by cutting speakers off (property owners as well as city staff) whenever something of substance was spoken.
In addition, many of the answers from city staff to property
owners' questions seemed to have been strategically structured, or canned, to confuse and mislead property owners as to how the inventory would affect their current and future property rights. For example, I asked if the stream corridor boundaries were being expanded (a tactic which the city can now deploy every 10 years under current law, thanks to Metro), and the answer was: 'Yes, but the total area, citywide, won't increase that much.'
By shifting the focus away from my property toward the city, as a whole, the speaker effectively created a diversion.
Another property owner, Gary Buford, described his land and asked if he could continue to create pathways without having to submit formal application, and then potentially, to have to delineate his land. The response was so evasive that he re-asked the question three times, each while being pummeled by the communication facilitator, who attempted to block city staff from answering. The facilitator wanted to move on to other questions. Before being silenced, however, Mr. Buford suggested that the impacts of the inventory were so vague that the city needed to provide much more clarity before its adoption.
Of the areas outside the city limits that were invited to the open house, Birdshill had a good showing. Given the number of trees in Birdshill, current tree code requirements will likely limit their development rights by 50 percent, so there seems to be very little incentive for them ever to want to annex to Lake Oswego.
After the presentation, I approached several different city staff members to ask questions particular to my property, and as I moved from staff member to staff member, I found I was being trailed by the facilitator.
As a way of concluding this opinion, I would like to provide a review of Oregon's Constitutional Rights as taken from the Oregon Bluebook:
Section 9. 'Unreasonable searches or seizures. No law shall violate the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable search, or seizure …'
Section 18. 'Private property or services taken for public use. Private property shall not be taken for public use, nor the particular services of any person be demanded without just compensation: nor except in the case of the state, without such compensation first assessed and tendered …'
Section 20. 'Equality of privileges and immunities of citizens. No law shall be passed granting to any citizen or class of citizens privileges, or immunities, which upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens …'
Carolyne R. Jones is a Lake Oswego resident.