Dear LO,

The first time I saw you, my heart was lifted into my throat by a thousand little butterflies.

I was taken by your proximity to the Willamette River and downtown Portland. Your marketplace on Saturday mornings and the way you supported the artisans and displayed their art swept me up. The open arms of your local merchants embraced me, and your varied architecture radiated authenticity. I wanted to cohabitate with you. I hoped I would get a chance to know you intimately.

It’s been seven glorious years and I still adore you. I still care deeply about you, as you have become my safe place and best friend. I always look forward to returning home. You are my haven.

I would be a coward if I said I didn’t care about the Wizer project. I know its future development is vital for continuing — even improving — our quality of life. But our city government has coupled with Patrick Kessi and his crew of developers to wreak havoc on our future growth. They want to sacrifice our love of the village square to the density gods. Let’s wrap our arms around each other and resist this temptation. The developers are singing a siren song, but be warned: The song is sexy and the developers’ plan is multifaceted like fashion jewelry, but ultimately seeks to pack us together in eco-cages.

Their supporters whisper that our community will be happier. Don’t be lured to the developers’ village of ruin. Let’s work together to defeat developers and urge the City Council to accept the Development Review Commission’s recommendation. The codes we pledged to live by stated that we must design for a large mix of retail. Our binding Urban Design Plan mandates that downtown stay commercial- and retail-focused, with small-scale structures. Let’s right-size this affair by respecting and serving the needs of our community, and honoring the Development Review Commission’s opinion.

If the bureaucrats in City Hall break their solemn pledge to protect our sense of community as outlined in our city codes, the bloom will soon be off the rose. Suddenly we will have 300 apartment dwellers and their beloved pets calling the downtown square their backyard. The crowding will make some agoraphobic, while others will just grumble about the parking fiasco. Let’s plan properly for the future. Let’s offer each other a reprieve from housing.

In the meantime, let’s dine out more, hold hands in Millennium Park, embrace local shops and continue to kiss on sultry August nights. Lake Oswego, you are still my Shangri-La. You still move me with your quiet, small-scale beauty. I’m still lulled by the sound of your train and I’m still seduced by your placid lake. Let’s start over. Let’s have a better plan. Let’s make memories. Let’s fall in love with a design that saves our future.

Andrea Arnot is a Lake Oswego resident.

Contract Publishing

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