Lake Oswego staff provide update about 2021 legislative session
On the heels of approving a legislative agenda earlier this year, the Lake Oswego City Council received an update April 20 from staff regarding bills that were considered a priority for the city.
Madison Thesing, assistant to the city manager, provided an overview of the legislative session at its halfway point and gave an update on what bills the city is opposing, supporting or actively watching. Thesing also discussed a bill staff was concerned about and asked for direction from the council.
In February, the council adopted a legislative agenda that covered areas including safety, support for businesses, climate change and diversity, equity and inclusion.
Safety-related legislative priorities the city planned to encourage were funding packages supporting innovation in public safety and wildfire resiliency, and policies relating to public safety and services. The city also planned to monitor COVID-19 relief bills addressing community needs, policies promoting access to public services, programs, facilities and policies for all people, and legislation promoting local efforts to help fight the climate crisis, among many others.
Staff tracks and monitors the bills, and may testify and provide comments on some of them as well. In that case, staff will send emails to councilors if speaking in opposition or support. If the bills deal with higher-level policy, especially on a regional level, staff will bring the information before the council to ensure the council is on board and can have discussion in advance.
Thesing said the city supported two large bills about recycling and resiliency for energy and local power that would help recover costs for initiatives they're taking on in the Sustainability and Climate Action Plan. Other proposed initiatives they're supporting, Thesing said, deal with preserving attorney-client privilege, water transfers and a bill that's pushing to have more studies done on system development charges.
Thesing said there are multiple COVID-19 relief bills regarding tenant and landlord protection as well as recovery funds. Those are going through the committee levels right now and that one might be packaged as part of a larger bill, which the city would support as it aligns with council goals.
Other bills of interest to Lake Oswego deal with affordable housing and police oversight and training.
The bill that Thesing wanted council feedback on was House Bill 3072, which essentially says that landowners located in an area designated as urban reserve can petition to be brought into the urban growth boundary for workforce housing. The city would then have to provide urban services within two years of the petition being approved.
"It changes the urban growth boundary process that exists today," Thesing said. "It's going against what the state has already created as a system as well as Metro."
Thesing said there were many cities, as well as Metro, speaking out about it and that she had concerns with how to manage the bill from a planning perspective because it would invalidate the city's comprehensive plan. She added that workforce housing on the edge of the UGB would not be ideal because there's no infrastructure like public transportation, which would be essential for workforce housing.
City Manager Martha Bennett said she believed the bill was designed to allow landowners in Stafford to get land into the UGB. She added it would be almost impossible to extend infrastructure within two years.
Councilor John Wendland asked if it would override three-party or five-party intergovernmental agreements related to Stafford, to which Bennett said yes and that it would override essentially everything in the Oregon land use planning system.
Mayor Joe Buck said it was a "preposterous" bill and the council was on board to have staff collaborate on a letter of opposition with surrounding cities.
For more information on Lake Oswego's legislative agenda, visit the city's website.
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