Pool, PERS, pathways make Lake Oswego City Council agenda
Lake Oswego City Councilors' preliminary list of goals for 2018 brings a couple of new topics to the mix, including finding a permanent home for the City's Parks & Recreation Department and deciding whether to partner with the school district to develop a community pool.
Both of those goals are being driven by outside forces. The pool discussion was prompted by a request from the Lake Oswego School District, and the LOSD has also notified the City that it will not extend the Parks Department's lease at Palisades Elementary School beyond this summer.
Some of the other nine goals tentatively adopted Saturday have simply carried over from last year, including deciding the future of the municipal golf course and adopting a strategy for PERS increases. Still others are next steps that build off prior goals, such as adopting and implementing a Climate Action Plan or adopting tools identified last year to create more economical housing.
Also on the council's preliminary list: explore opportunities for the sale of surplus City properties, reconsider the council policy on annexation and accelerate the construction of pathway connections.
The entire list was developed at the council's annual goal-setting retreat, which was held at the new Operations and Maintenance Center. The council still needs to review the list and officially adopt a final version, which will likely happen in February.
Lazenby brought up the topics one at a time on PowerPoint slides, and the mayor and councilors used handheld devices to rate each issue on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being lowest priority, 5 being highest and 3 being neutral. The results were immediately displayed on the screen, allowing the council to get a sense of how the group felt about each issue.
"The math is pretty easy with seven people," Lazenby said.
The goals were distilled from a longer list of policy topics created for the retreat. Each councilor submitted a list of the issues that they felt the City should address, and City Manager Scott Lazenby opened the meeting by conducting an anonymous straw poll on each of the 30-plus topics.
Some of the issues produced near-unanimous results with strong support, such as deciding the future of the golf course and providing clear public information about traffic closures related to the Boones Ferry Road project. Other issues produced more evenly split results, such as the funding of a pool replacement or taking a lead role in private site development for workforce housing.
During the subsequent discussion, some of the councilors clarified that there were issues they viewed as high priorities but did not want listed as goals because the issue is already firmly established in the council's schedule. In particular, several issues related to the Boones Ferry Road project received high marks in the polling but were left off the goal list.
Other issues were tabled in spite of high interest because they were viewed more as ongoing policies than specific goals. For example, Councilor Joe Buck asked for a vote on whether the City should declare support for local groups promoting diversity and equity. The result was a perfect split, but some of the councilors later clarified that they viewed it as an ongoing policy.
"We don't want to achieve it, we want to do it," said Councilor Skip O'Neill.
Some of the goals began to take shape during the discussion as combinations of multiple issues brought up during the voting period. For example, several goals related to specific pathway projects and overall pathway development were consolidated into the goal of accelerating the construction of pathway connections.
The issue of short-term rentals such as Airbnb came up during the polling portion of the meeting and a majority of the council appeared to be in favor of revisiting the city's current policy, which bans rentals of less than 30 days in residential areas. But the issue never came up in subsequent discussions, and Lazenby told The Review that a study session on the topic would instead be scheduled sometime in the first half of the year.
A couple of issues received considerable discussion but did not make the goal list, such as revising the City's Development Code to preserve more trees. After an ad-hoc committee produced a revised Tree Code for the City last year, some members voiced lingering concerns that the protection of trees was being undermined by a separate Development Code that made tree removals too easy.
During the retreat discussion, Councilor John LaMotte referenced those concerns and said he wanted to examine whether any additional tree-preservation tools could be added to the Development Code — although he clarified that he did not intend to reopen the entire Tree Code issue.
"No one I've talked to has said, 'Let's have another work group,'" he said.
Councilor Theresa Kohlhoff said she had talked to Planning Department staff and heard about some potential tools and strategies the council could discuss, and Buck raised the idea of creating some sort of reward or incentives program for developers who take extra steps to preserve trees on construction sites.
Other councilors pushed back on the idea, though, arguing that raising the issue would undermine the work of the tree committee. O'Neill, who served as the council liaison to the committee, said Development Code revision advocates tended to be the same people from the committee who wanted stricter enforcement — but ultimately, he said, they were a minority opinion.
LaMotte countered that he was asking for refinement of the code and not for limiting development. "Nobody is saying (limit development)," he said.
But O'Neill disagreed.
"They're not saying it," O'Neill replied, "but when you get there and dig down, they're anti-development."
Mayor Kent Studebaker called for a vote on the issue, and the group voted 5-2 against adding Development Code updates as a goal.
There was also a brief discussion of possible changes to council meeting policy, with the goal of trying to avoid meetings that run extremely late, particularly when there are residents waiting to testify in public hearings.
However, there didn't appear to be any easy answers. Kohlhoff suggested moving items like the consent agenda and awards ceremonies to the bottom of meeting agendas, and Studebaker suggested the council could try doing the same for citizen comment.
But Gudman said delaying awards ceremonies would mean that recipients would be kept waiting until late at night, and Buck added that delaying citizen comment would raise concerns about the council's accessibility. He and others endorsed the idea of delaying the consent agenda, but Manz pointed out that doing so would only save a couple of minutes in most meetings.
Gudman also asked for the council to reverse a policy it enacted last year that moved the second meeting of each month to 3 p.m. from its original time of 6:30 p.m., but a majority of the council voted no. LaMotte asked that the other meeting also be moved to 3 p.m., but that idea was voted down as well.