Karen's Communiqué

This is neither an agenda of Lake Oswego City Council meetings, nor minutes
(they are available elsewhere).
The Communiqué is just my monthly perspective as one of your elected Councilors on policy decisions being made for our beautiful city -- nothing official whatsoever.

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January 14, 2014

Dear Lake Oswego Friends,

The holidays intervened since I wrote the last Communiqué, but many issues have passed through Council’s few agendas because they have been long agendas and long meetings to start off the new year. May you have a blessed 2014.

Three personal notes.  (1) Insolvency of TriMet is explained well in a must-read report linked here written by John Charles at Cascade Policy. Implications for Lake Oswego are clear: additional reductions in service will occur as unsustainable cost of TriMet’s employee benefits continue to rise, contributing to its being the highest-cost transit provider in Oregon. How could our City improve bus service for the same or lower cost? I support finding the best ways to serve the everyday transportation needs of our residents. Mayor Studebaker is scheduling a study session to determine if we want to explore options other than our current approach with TriMet; before then, please read the report I’ve linked and let me know if you have questions. 

(2) Our City Manager Scott Lazenby who has a Ph.D. in public administration is offering a program to staff called Lake Oswego University as a 2-year commitment to read about 24 books, do homework, and come to “lunch hour” class every 2 weeks prepared to participate. Seventy employees responded!  I was delighted that Scott selected my book The Business of Leadership as the opening textbook.  Discussions in the opening session were quality, and this is a step forward in developing a “thinking” organization.  

(3) I explored Metro’s failure to measure goal achievement in a NW Connections opinion piece that is linked here.


An Ordinance on Unruly Gatherings (linked here) has been proposed by our Police Chief and will come back to City Council at our next meeting during which time more residents are given the opportunity to weigh in. The language in .050 that begins like this “It is unlawful for any person to be an owner of property where an unruly gathering occurs …” has been changed in response to my feedback and work with the City Attorney, but the corrected language is not yet posted.  In addition, the .020 definition of unruly gathering was amended to involved 20 people minimum rather than 5.  The stated purpose of the Ordinance is to go beyond existing Oregon Revised Statutes to allow for accountability of parents or landlords if repeated unruly gatherings take place on their property.  The Chief said that there are typically 12 to 14 such instances in our city per year, usually involving 60 to 250 young people.  Read the Ordinance and please communicate with Council if you have an opinion one way or another.


What’s up with the West End purchase? City Council gave Kensington Investment an extension on the Purchase and Sale Agreement for another 30 days beyond the stated end of the inspection contingency period of January 15, 2014.  I voted against an extension because that also extended their due date for any earnest money whatsoever!  Kensington has had since November 13, 2013 for their inspection with no payment due to the City.  If they’re waiting for the zoning decision, then (1) why would they have that concern since not granting the zone change can opt them completely out of the purchase, and (2) do they know more about their intentions for what is to be built than what they’ve shared with the City? 


Yes, water rates are going up again.  Utility fees are going to be billed monthly instead of bi-monthly, payable on the 1st day of each month. Beginning on July 1 water fees are going up by 6%, wastewater 3%, surface water 7%, and street maintenance 3.3%.  Systems development charges (SDCs) and most planning fees were increased.  My reason for being the sole negative vote (6-1) against the master fees and charges and their increases is that the percentage increases were not tied to any information on costs relative to revenue.  For example, from the new water fees, what is the aggregate money to be raised relative to the cost of debt service and maintenance?  That type of information was not given to Council, and yet my philosophy mandates such information before increasing rates by any percentage.


Removal of historic designation from Carman House and property  On a personal level, I value the historic value of the Carman House at 3811 Carman Drive, and hope that its owners preserve its story.  I am saddened that in the last several years the property was for sale, no party came forward to purchase the home and preserve it. Instead, it continued to languish. But the question before City Council had nothing to do with our attitudes toward historic value, or the current condition of the home, or toward private property rights.  The question had to do only with interpretation of specific state statute.  Council found that the 1990 historic designation was “imposed” under ORS 197.772(3) over the owner’s objection and that the Trust that currently owns the property was eligible to request release of the historic designation. Upon its request, Council found that the City, as the local government that imposed the historic designation, is mandated by state law to remove the historic designation.  Let’s find better ways to garner the forces to maintain historic Lake Oswego properties when they begin to decline, difficult as that is when such properties are privately owned.


Boone’s Ferry Road Improvements  This is the Phase One ½ mile $26.9 million project that involves bike paths, sidewalks, storm water collection in the concave center divider, and no decrease in lanes available to auto traffic.  Council voted to move ahead with design and engineering for the project.  Financing will be taken up later.


Lake Oswego – Tigard Water Partnership transfers more water to Tigard  Council voted 7-0 to adjust the allocation of capacity to transfer 4 million gallons per day from LO to Tigard and amend the allocation of project costs accordingly.  Here’s the general background.  Current capacity is 16 million gallons per day (mgd) that is all Lake Oswego’s, which is being expanded to 32 mgd and later to 38 mgd.  Currently the agreement is for LO to be allocated 24 mgd and Tigard 14 mgd (total 38 mgd).  With the action Council has now taken, the allocation changes to 20 mgd (-4) for Lake Oswego and 18 mgd (+4) for Tigard. Note that Lake Oswego remains the managing partner and still has the majority share.  Whether or not this sale relieves the need for additional bond sales beyond the $77 Million we issued in August 2013 will depend on the magnitude of increases in project costs over estimates + contingencies that were found in November.

# # #

As always, please let me know what’s on your mind and how I can better serve you.

Sincerely yours,


November 26, 2013 [Comprehensive Plan, Boone’s Ferry Road Improvements]
October 22, 2013 [LED lights, West End Bldg., Budget Committee meeting, progress on Council goals]
Sept 12, 2013 [Tie vote in Councilor replacement, Citizen Boards, LOTWP bonds sold]
August 15, 2013 [Good staff report on streets, Downtown Block 137, LOTWP] 
July 8, 2013 [LOTWP, Luscher Farm, City Manager selected, Sensitive Lands]
4, 2013 [Community Attitudes Survey, Comp Plan, Downtown development] 
April 7, 2013 [Sensitive Lands, Utility rates, Acuity Group report privately funded]
February 12, 2013 [Evaluate LOTWP, Foothills Urban Renewal] 
January 16, 2013 [Interim City Manager appointed, Budget Committee members]