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Readers' Letters

Some ‘rights’ are ‘wrongs’

I take issue with the editorial two weeks ago (“Wizer decision isn’t about right and wrong,” Sept. 4) in which The Review seemed to equate opinions about the Wizer Project with “rights.” We are all entitled to opinions. But the “rights” involved in approving or denying a proposal to redevelop a block in our downtown are embodied in documents considered and enacted after public debate by elected members of our City Councils.

The Review states that the “vision ... for a compact shopping district rejects large-scale residential projects in favor of a greater concentration of retail space.” I believe The Review is wrong in its interpretation. The Wizer Block is, indeed, in the central core of our downtown. But the 1988 Urban Design Plan describes aspects of what buildings could look like in the district. It explicitly includes placing “high-density multifamily housing” on the upper floors of buildings that can be two, three and four stories high. The Urban Design Plan talks about mixed use, including housing, bringing added activity to the core area. This is the “right” actually embodied in the Urban Design Plan.

“Village character” is also embodied in our development code. It isn’t an opinion; it is a stated series of characteristics that “create village character.” And the Wizer project includes those characteristics, with fewer exceptions than were granted for Lake View Village. “Small-scale structures” have those characteristics. The opponents have no code-based “right” to think they are not small-scale. The code says that they are small-scale.

Some “rights” are right. Other “rights” are “wrongs,” if they ignore our properly-enacted plans and the code. I believe the DRC booted its job. I believe the City Council will do the “right” thing: follow the applicable plans and the code and approve the Wizer project.

Ellie McPeak

Lake Oswego

Gudman has done good job

Jeff Gudman, president of the Lake Oswego City Council, is seeking another term on the council. I think Mr. Gudman has done a good job on council and I support his election for another term.

Mr. Gudman has been involved in city affairs for a long time. He was formerly chair of the Lake Oswego Neighborhood Action Coalition and has always been supportive of neighborhood issues and positions. He is fiscally responsible and works to avoid raising city taxes. One of his priorities I most appreciate is his work to improve the condition of our roads. They have been neglected far too long.

I encourage Lake Oswego voters to keep Jeff Gudman on the council.

John Pullen

Lake Oswego

Urban project doesn’t belong

It is reassuring to me to see that the DRC has turned down the current proposal for the Wizer Block. Having grown up in Lake Oswego with deep ties to the community, I do not understand why this project, which is appropriate to perhaps the Pearl District, is being proposed for a community that prides

itself on its beauty and its small-town village character. 

As The Lake Oswego Review editorial (“City should hold true to vision for downtown core,” July 17) noted, our Fourth of July celebration as well as our other community celebrations have that wonderful sense of being in your own hometown with all the kids, parents, grandparents and community members gathered together. Millennium Park works as a wonderful gathering space. But with 207 apartments looming over it, the already busy park will become overrun with just too many people, dogs and visitors, not to mention delivery trucks, emergency vehicles and all of the other big-city experiences.

The Wizer Block is not big enough to meet the many demands that will be placed on it. This is not a project for Lake Oswego. It is an urban project and should be put in an urban setting.  

Candee Clark Jones

Lake Oswego

Sidewalk isn’t enough

“Where the sidewalk ends” — borrowed from Shel Silverstein

In a recent 6-1 decision, Lake Oswego’s City Council deemed Laurel Street, between Bickner and Cornell streets, so dangerous for pedestrians that it agreed to install a 6-foot-wide sidewalk, one that abruptly ends at the intersection of Cornell and Laurel streets.

At this same meeting, the City Council seemingly agreed with city engineer who testified that “this intersection doesn’t even come close to qualifying for a four-way stop” and crosswalks, something that neighbors have repeatedly requested after witnessing multiple accidents.

I and most Laurel Street neighbors are alarmed. We are hopeful that the mayor and five councilors in favor of this plan will visit the site where the sidewalk ends.Come to the southeast corner of Cornell and Laurel. Imagine you are four feet tall and you want to cross Cornell to get to the sidewalk leading up the hill, or to continue walking home on Laurel Street. Cars are parked in the driveways along Cornell (as they most frequently are); you step out into the street; you can’t see the car flying down Cornell (which has no stop signs between Bergis Road and Oak Street) or the truck whipping around the corner from the new 16-home subdivision being built just up the hill. Imagine...

We understand that a sidewalk sounds safe as part of an overarching “Safe Pathways to School” plan. However, without adequate traffic controls connecting these sidewalks, are they really safe?

Ann Messick

Lake Oswego

Big politics, big money, big apartments

It is interesting to read that former Sen. Bob Packwood has decided to toss his hat into the ring on the Wizer proposal for Block 137. For Mr. Packwood to throw his political weight around in a town dispute, where he doesn’t even live, seems disingenuous.

Could the reason for his recent commentary be because his wife, Elaine Franklin, has been hired by developer Pat Kessi to persuade the community that a massive complex housing more than 300 residents in our designated retail core is an excellent match for our town square? The political spin team, spearheaded by Franklin, has stepped away from what is most significant.

Preserving Lake Oswego’s unique village character of small-scale structures is at stake. There is nothing small scale about the three proposed massive buildings. Each is close in length to the size of a football field. The Wizer Block is designated as our compact shopping district, one of four blocks that were planned as the city’s retail core. A project that is 87-percent residential apartments with 13-percent retail is not consistent with the city’s vision.

Citizens are well aware of what is at risk from outside voices proclaiming what is best for Lake Oswego. Most of the general public won’t be swayed by paid lobbyists or an out-of-town developer, none of whom have a stake in the livability of our town.

If you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing. I am confident citizens who live here will stand strong in honoring our codes that took decades of planning.

Tom Grigg

Lake Oswego

This is what we may get?

Is the Wizer proposal really what this community wants to morph into?

The proposal is on property identified in city planning documents as being one of four “compact shopping district” blocks. The property is a prime retail block, yet as designed, the interior first level is comprised of: offices (not much vitality there!); a private library for the residents of the apartments; an exercise room for the residents of the apartments; a private patio for the residents of the apartments; a “Club Lounge” for the residents of the apartments; and restrooms and a sauna for the residents of the apartments.

Wow, this project is going to be a real generator of retail activity downtown!

The agreement between the developer and the Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency, in Section 6.15, calls for the walkway between First and Second streets to be subject to “...the terms of an easement to allow reasonable access to the pedestrian corridor running east and west...” which is to “...seek to balance the residential nature of the improvements along the pedestrian corridor with reasonable public access.”

Shouldn’t the city have the language of this agreement made public before the City Council acts on the appeal? What if the developer and the city do not reach terms agreeable to both parties? Will the interior be potentially closed to the public?

All this property is zoned for commercial ground-floor usage, and this is what we may get?

Lori Grady

Lake Oswego

Gudman an asset to community

I am supporting Jeff Gudman for re-election to City Council.

Jeff has been a tremendous asset to the community through his work on the Budget Committee and as a City Councilor, where he has worked tirelessly to keep our city on firm financial footing. Jeff has also shown that he has the characteristics we look for in our leaders: intelligence, common sense, personal maturity, the ability to work with people regardless of their viewpoint, and a genuine desire to serve others.

Please join me in voting to re-elect Jeff Gudman as a member of the Lake Oswego City Council.

David Kearns

Lake Oswego

Let’s have fewer victims, not more

Legalizing marijuana in Oregon might be an acceptable idea, but Measure 91, on the ballot this fall, goes too far. I am voting No on Measure 91.

As a volunteer, I chaired the Governor’s Committee Against DUII under four governors. My professional life has focused on representing victims, all too often victims of chemically-impaired motorists.

Measure 91 proposes legalization in Oregon with no set standards for driving under the influence of marijuana. This is different than the laws passed in Washington and Colorado. If Oregon voters pass Measure 91, we will see more marijuana-impaired drivers causing crashes, killing and injuring Oregonians, and it will be much harder for police and the courts to hold reckless impaired drivers responsible.

Whether or not one thinks that legalization of marijuana is generally a good idea, what is clear is that Measure 91 is extreme. It goes too far. It puts your safety and your family’s safety at risk. I urge a No vote on Measure 91.

Peter Glazer

Glazer, Maurer & Peterson, P.C.

Lake Oswego

Proposal doesn’t meet code

I strongly urge our mayor and City Council to agree with Lake Oswego’s Development Review Commission and deny the Wizer project. It simply does not meet our city code.

We need a compact shopping district, not developer Patrick Kessi’s residential proposal. We have limited retail space in downtown Lake Oswego. It’s currently not enough to meet most local shoppers’ needs. Mr. Kessi proposes to eliminate 50 percent of the existing retail on the Wizer Block. More shopping variety will encourage more local shopping and help promote Lake Oswego as a destination point. We need a critical mass of available retail space to attract new merchants. Right now, we are below that mass.

I believe we would be violating the law to dismiss the DRC’s s extremely well-thought-out interpretation of the city codes. Our codes call for designs that include a large mix of retail for a compact shopping plan. The DRC is responsibly upholding this precedent, as should the mayor and council.

Lake Oswego’s Urban Design Plan mandates downtown to stay commercial/retail and the East End Development Plan requires small-scale structures. There are some decisions that are made harder than they should be. This one is self-evident. And because the rules haven’t changed, the council should agree with the DRC’s expertise on this. Mr. Wizer and his developer do not have the right to develop the property in violation of the city’s design and development plans.

Let’s plan for the future. As housing becomes denser in all adjacent neighborhoods, we will benefit from a stronger retail/ commercial downtown that can properly serve the community’s needs. Millennium Park should remain a terrific place for us to enjoy and a larger variety of shops will enhance the area.

This should not be a difficult decision. The proposed massive apartment is against code. Please do not approve the Wizer project.

Stephen Arnot

Lake Oswego

No need for personal attacks

In the recent Citizen’s View article on Hallinan Heights, it was very disconcerting to read the authors make personal attacks on some long-time Oswegans. It is one thing to feel strongly about an issue and to voice your opposition; it is another to personalize the issue(s) that one feels passionate about.

This community has long prided itself on its level of citizen involvement; with that involvement comes discussion and dissent. Mayor Studebaker has strived to reduce the incivility, nastiness and personalization of issues that so marked our community’s political issues in the recent past.

But one person cannot do it alone. We all have to do our part. In the coming weeks, the community will be confronting another significant issue with a downtown project. Let’s keep our focus on the issues involved and not on the personalities on either side of that contentious matter.

Let’s continue working to make this the best place to live. In doing that, let’s not insult one another in an effort to force our opinions on others. Let’s not attack those who are involved, whether for the first time or those who have contributed for years to make this such a wonderful community, by being personal in our dissent. Let’s all work to make Lake Oswego not just a place on the map, but a place where people care about one another even if they don’t agree on every issue. We should make our community known not only for its intelligence, but also for its respect and kindness toward one another.

Mary Puskas

Lake Oswego

Hallinan housing controversy

The recent opinion letters on building lots in Hallinan Heights sounded alarms by some neighbors. While I respect their right to expression, their exaggerated concerns are not listening to the facts.

Over the years, I have gained deep respect for our city attorneys and the thorough job they do for the protection and rights of our residents and businesses. There are no favors going on with recent decisions. The grandfathering of certain property rights and property-line adjustments have been legally tested over the years. The work of Deputy City Attorney Evan Boone has been thorough.

The type and size of new homes for the lots in Hallinan fulfills the need for family housing. The growth of younger families with children moving to Lake Oswego is encouraging for the future of our neighborhoods and schools. There is expected growth in our metro areas, and families and young professionals are the new residents. Hallinan is a special walking neighborhood close to shopping and public transit. As a past member of our city’s Housing Task Force and Sustainability Advisory Board, I am encouraged by the availability of these new housing sites for the future of Lake Oswego.

Paul J. Lyons

Lake Oswego

Attend candidate, issues forums

The Lake Oswego Citizens Action League will be hosting a City Issues Forum at Lakeridge High School on Sunday, Oct. 5, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., to discuss important issues to consider when voting in this November’s election.

While Mayor Studebaker and the current council have made great strides towards improving fiscal responsibility, maintaining of our streets and setting the tone of city meetings and respect for citizens, there are still issues to tackle and a need to ensure that this positive direction continues. At the City Issues Forum, local community leaders will share important information and updates about city finances, city staffing, density in neighborhoods, sensitive lands and other property issues.

On Sunday, Oct. 12, from 3 to 5 p.m. at Lake Oswego High School, LOCAL will hold a City Councilor Candidates Forum that will encompass these issues and more and give you the opportunity to share dialog with the five candidates running for office. Your fellow citizens will welcome your input, and we look forward to a meaningful exchange of ideas.

The election this November is important, as three city council seats will be open. Let’s continue the work we started in 2012!

Dave Sengenberger

LOCAL Steering Committee

Lake Oswego

A trifecta

Lake Oswego and its people are known as wonderful stewards of their lands. So what a great match we think it will be to locate in downtown Lake Oswego and partner with its citizens. We hope to move into the Wizer’s development, because the mission of the developer so closely reflects your and our mission — one of fundamental sustainability.

Developer Patrick Kessi has spearheaded sustainable, award-winning developments, and the Wizer Block will be built to the exacting standards of Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design certification. We are the first sushi restaurant in the U.S. to be a “Certified Green Restaurant.” From the power we buy to the amount of water we use to our biodegradable to-go containers and compost program, we ensure a light footprint.

We are excited to be one of the retailers wanting to move into the proposed downtown Wizer building. We look forward to being part of the environmentally conscious Lake Oswego community. Vision, sustainability and business can coexist.

Kristofor Lofgren

Owner, Bamboo Sushi

Portland

We endorse Jeff Gudman

We have had the fortunate opportunity to know Jeff Gudman as both a councilman and a neighbor. Our observations are that Jeff is doing a great job as councilman, and we are pleased to endorse him for his next term. Yet being his neighbor has been equally rewarding.

We have known Jeff about 20 years as a neighbor and friend. He is well liked in our neighborhood and can be counted on for both friendship and advice. He has helped us with our own financial matters, as this is a real strong suit of Jeff’s that he has brought to his job. He has also been very active in our neighborhood well before he became a councilman. He gives annual summer parties so we can all stay in touch, inviting a wide variety of people with diverse views. The parties are always fun. No matter what the situation, if Jeff is involved he gives it his all and can be counted on for following through to completion.

Give your vote to Jeff for the next term so he can continue to maintain good stewardship for the city of Lake Oswego and its citizens. You won’t be sorry.

Ken and Barb Maxwell

Lake Oswego

Thoughts on the Wizer project

Demand drives supply in this form of capital improvement, labeled physical capital. Lake Oswego has relatively high land prices compared with the rest of the state, including nearby West Linn and Portland, the most nearby economically stable/vibrant locations. Land prices are driven by Lake Oswego’s capital, highlighting strong social, natural and physical capital. Given the scarcity of land, while aiming to maintain constant or increased value per unit of land, we have to use wise strategies to gain additional economic agents to participate in the local economy.

Adding agents increases the number of potential consumers for local businesses, increases tax revenue and allows for the potential of further growth. To do so, given land scarcity, and to not hit the downward side of the urban utility curve, the recommended solution is to best utilize land, in this case by building into a less costly domain, the air.

To note an axiom of urban economics, “prices adjust to achieve locational equilibrium.” Utility of owners will adjust based on incentives and costs, such that added traffic, more dogs or more people will cause future physical capital improvements, generating further economic growth, all beneficial for a suburban economy’s long-run vitality.

Finally, property rights allow owners to maximize their ownership given established social conventions and local laws. If demand outweighs the naysayers, if economic growth will occur and the plan falls within local law, I recommend the project to occur, with a note that internal and external costs be noted and factored into an urban utility function, with the outcome remaining positive.

Jeff DeWitt

Lake Oswego

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