Neighborhood in turmoil

We have lived on Spruce Street for over 40 years. It is a quiet, safe and peaceful neighborhood, but now it has been turned upside down.

The Hallinan area, near Freepons Park, is being forced to accept 16 new homes, in piecemeal fashion and with no master plan, so neither the developer nor the city has to do any improvements on streets, sidewalks or infrastructure. It’s stupid, but it is allowed under Lake Oswego’s archaic laws.

We have been to all of the meetings and testified before the City Council. The most asinine thing we have heard in this mess is that the Lake Oswego city code that allows for building on platted lots created in the 1890s is based on an erroneous interpretation of a state ordinance passed in 1992!

One property — 1028 Cedar St., where one small home currently stands — will soon have four larger homes on substandard lots, all because of these platted lots. There are hundreds of these small platted lots in our city, with as many as six or eight plats, or portions of plats, per property.

Charlie Derrick

Lake Oswego

A more critical issue

For months now, The Lake Oswego Review has been endlessly, it seems, filled with letters and op-ed pieces debating the pros and cons (mostly cons) of the Wizer project. I doubt there has ever been a more vetted project in the history of our city. But thanks to Brian Doyle’s op-ed piece in the most recent edition of The Review (“Waking up to a nightmare on Cedar Street,” Aug. 14), a decision by the city regarding the insertion of 16 homes where three once stood in an established neighborhood with limited capacity to service the increase in residents, with inadequate access and near a grade school, brings to our collective attention for the first time what seems to me a more critical issue than the Wizer project, which is, after all, a project intended to take place in the commercial center of our city.

To destroy an existing neighborhood seems far more destructive. I know those who wish to defeat the Wizer project claim that it will be out of character with our “village,” but I would point out the obvious: Lake Oswego hasn’t been a village for many years, since most villages I’ve been in don’t have a population of around 40,000 people. We need to plan for the future, not envision a past that hasn’t been a reality for a very long time.

However, the Cedar Street project appears devastating to an entire neighborhood and was apparently approved without much fanfare. Thanks to Brian Doyle for bringing it to our attention. Now let’s see some action on the part of the city.

Ronald Talney

Lake Oswego

Thanks for balanced reporting

I just completed reading two articles on your newspapers’ websites. The first one was Nancy Townsley’s story in The Review about Ventura v. Kyle (“Lake Oswego mayor: Chris Kyle ‘did not lie,’” Aug. 14) and the second carried the byline of Betty Campbell involving Mr. Horstman and the Hillboro Police Department (“Tort claim pits couple vs. cops,” Hillsboro Tribune, Aug. 15).

Being familiar with the work of reporters from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, it was very refreshing to see the clear and balanced nature of both stories. I offer you my sincere appreciation for your work, and for sparking within me a tiny flame of renewed hope/faith in the “Fifth Estate.”

Ronnie Nelson

Minneapolis, Minn.

Allow positive progress

The City Council should not weigh the volume of rhetoric engendered by personal interpretations but gauge if the Wizer development adheres to and complies with the standards mandated in the code.

Codes are minimum expectations placed on developments, and the public has a responsibility to help determine how to maximize a development’s potential for the greater good of the community. But this dimension of the “maximum” comes with some limitation and discretion. The developer is assuming the risks of investment and must study many external marketing factors before deciding what will work to compensate for this financial outlay.

For example, developer Barry Cain, recognizing the surplus of office space in the Kruse Way corridor, decided it would not be prudent to follow the clear intention of the office-campus zoning and reconfigured his building design to cleverly circumvent zoning direction and provide for predominantly commercial retail space. Since he met the basic standards of the code, his development, Kruse Village, was approved, even though it is a novel departure from the other office campus buildings.

Retail survivability in the downtown core has been very volatile with many good merchants closing doors recently. An infusion of mixed use may very well stimulate the area for existing businesses and Lake Oswego would be wise to welcomingly accept young professionals moving here.

Our town needs to continue revitalization, and it becomes more difficult to accomplish when the social and political environment lacks trust and security. Fears breed increased anxiety. We need to fall back on what brings us harmony and that is our common accord to be good neighbors — looking out and helping one another.

That’s the kind of increased density we need. Gene Wizer, a friend of the community, is living testimony to this hope and I urge the council to allow positive progress, based on conformity to stipulated expectations, to continue in our town.

Michael Buck

Lake Oswego

Use free speech wisely

Here is a direct quote from Tana Haynes’ Citizen’s View opposing the Wizer development (“Council should listen to citizens, send developer back to get it right,” Aug. 14): “As I understand it, one of the developer’s recently hired political consultants both donated to and advised the mayor and several current councilors during their election campaigns. Is this deliberate maneuvering by the developer?”

That statement is both Machiavellian and hypocritical. Ms. Haynes herself donated very generously to the mayor. Was that so she could “deliberately maneuver” the mayor?

Her statements are also incredibly insulting to the mayor and the whole Lake Oswego Council. Ms. Haynes infers that the elected council of Lake Oswego has no philosophical or moral compass. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Ms. Haynes and her Wizer opposition group would be well advised to use free speech wisely. Hypocrisy is easily exposed and credibility, so hard to earn, is so easily lost.

Elaine Franklin


DRC set a bad precedent

As people who have been actively following what goes on in our city government for years, we were shocked and dismayed to see how far the process was derailed during the Development Review Commission’s handling of the Wizer Block redevelopment.

The DRC is charged with evaluating whether a project meets code requirements. But this is where their authority ends. What we witnessed was the DRC stepping beyond this authority in order to acquiesce to a vocal group of opponents.

After the project was initially brought to the DRC in January, the developer requested time in order to make changes requested by members of the DRC. So when the project came back to the DRC in July, we expected that this would be a great example of a developer trying to do the right thing and the project would be approved. City staff recommended approval of the project as requested.

To our amazement, we watched the majority of the DRC go out of their way to find thinly veiled excuses to be able to reject the proposal. Apparently, they really wanted to please the vocal opponents sitting in the audience at the hearings, who cheered every time a commissioner took a negative tone about the project.

We happen to believe that the Wizer Block development is good for our community. But whether or not you agree with us, we should all agree that the action taken by the DRC sets a bad precedent.

We hope that the City Council will take a step toward restoring our faith in local government. We hope that they act in the best interest of Lake Oswego by behaving responsibly next month and basing a critical decision about our future on facts and the law, not rhetoric and emotion.

Dee Denton and Tris Denton

Lake Oswego

Poor timing for closure

I am a student at Lake Oswego Junior High and ride the bus daily to get to school. Because of the closure of Kerr Parkway for five weeks, my bus will have to take a different and longer route to get to school.

This poor planning of having that section closed for five weeks at the beginning of the school year is causing many students and parents grief. Why was this plan made so poorly that this was overlooked?

Henry Fillmore

Lake Oswego

Please approve Wizer proposal

I am writing to urge the City Council to approve the proposed development on the Wizer Block. Developer Patrick Kessi is proposing a project that is architecturally beautiful and complements the existing Lake View Village.

In addition to the appearance of the buildings, one of the greatest benefits of this housing/retail mix will be that it will attract residents of all ages — from twenty-somethings to eighty-somethings. Such a range of ages, with its inevitable (and enviable) mix of opinions and lifestyles, will make our city a more vibrant and welcoming place for all of us. Diverse shopping needs, desires and habits will support and encourage the variety of retail shops and restaurants that will prove attractive for many and make Lake Oswego an enticing destination for visitors for an afternoon or evening of shopping or entertainment. Our current merchants will benefit and new enterprises should feel encouraged to establish themselves.

This is a development that is good for Lake Oswego. Please approve it.

Sara Kale

Lake Oswego

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