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Waking up to a nightmare on Cedar Street

Building 16 new homes in the Hallinan neighborhood is an ill-conceived project


Sometimes someone tells you a story so fantastic, so ridiculous and so inarguably true that your head rattles for a while and you question the reality of the snoring dog and the stunning sunset.

This just happened to me when a neighbor on Cedar Street, a stone’s throw from Hallinan Elementary School, explained to me how 16 houses are about to be built where three houses have perched for many years at the end of her street.

Sixteen houses means lots more residents and visitors and cars and trucks and delivery vehicles and construction vehicles and garbage trucks and recycling trucks and sneering teenagers driving way too fast in an area where there are lots of children and pedestrians walking east to the school, or west down to the grocery store, or to and from Freepons Park.

But the only access to these 16 new houses is the quiet Cedar Street dead end, which has not been repaired by the City of Lake Oswego since Lincoln was president, or Bickner Street, which is exactly 13.9 feet wide — barely enough to fit one car at a time.

Sixteen houses where three houses were — in an area where a whopping landslide has already occurred in the past, where the public right of way would be closed, where drainage issues have been a problem for decades, where the sudden erection of what amounts to an entire subdivision is stunning residents, where fire trucks and ambulances would have an enormously difficult time reaching residents, where no resident ever imagined a sudden influx of towering houses and up to, say, 50 new residents and their vehicles essentially overnight.

Is the new development legal? Sure. Has the builder, Roger Edwards, adhered in responsible fashion to city codes? Sure. Have city planners reviewed it all, and City Council listened attentively to the residents? Yes.

But has the builder or the city paid serious attention to the residents? No. The builder wishes to build, and is dismissive of complaints and requests to slow down and work on infrastructure and street design issues. The city has done and apparently will do nothing about looming safety issues. Almost certainly these 16 houses will be built, and this lovely old neighborhood in Lake Oswego will be forever changed, and old neighborhoods like Evergreen and First Addition and Old Town, which also can be radically overbuilt by evading modern planning and leaning on Lake Oswego’s ancient “lots of record” from the 1800s, will be radically overbuilt. And that will be that, with no outraged repercussions until a landslide takes out a house or a family, or children are smashed by the boom in traffic, or someone dies because emergency help couldn’t find a way into the dense and overbuilt neighborhood that used to be quiet, old Cedar Street.

Let me be blunt: As far as I can tell, my neighbor and her neighbors, and the 50 or so new neighbors they will soon have, will live in greater danger to their lives and property, and to the lives of their children, because the developer and the City of Lake Oswego rushed a development into being when it would have been all too easy to slow down, consider much more than the merely legal details, and actually try to create a vibrant and safe neighborhood in one of the loveliest and most engaging cities in Oregon.

But no one in power will listen to my neighbor and her neighbors, which is why I write this note, in hopes that at least some Lake Oswegans will be apprised of this, and begin to call attention to what certainly seems a dangerous, rushed and ill-planned project.

Brian Doyle is a resident of Lake Oswego.

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