Mt. Park and Stafford - A study in contrasts
Mountain Park is arguably one of the most successful planned developments in the United States. The first master plan was presented to the Lake Oswego Planning Commission in 1968. The City annexed the property in 1969. Mt. Park was developed in phases beginning in the late 1960s extending to the 1980s. It is a marvelous example of a planned unit development with a variety of housing types from single family homes to apartments, to condominiums to townhouses with a variety of affordability. The development team, as led by long time Lake Oswego resident and visionary landscape designer Carl Halvorson, put in and paid for all the infrastructure … roads, water, waste water, surface water and pathways.
The City has an excellent working relationship with the Mt. Park Homeowner's Association (HOA). The City upgrades/replaces/maintains Mt. Park public streets and utilities as it does elsewhere in the city. This is supported by property taxes and street/utility fees. Mt. Park internal pathways and private common areas/open space are maintained by the HOA. Mt. Park has about 8,500 people (about 20% of the city's total) in approximately 3,800 residences on 600 acres or about 14 people per acre or 2.2 people per residence.
One area of difference between the original conception and what was built is Kerr Parkway. The developer, Carl Halvorsen, was frustrated with Lake Oswego because he felt they had not followed through on a commitment to widen Kerr Parkway using the right of way dedicated. Instead, the city backed out of widening Kerr Parkway and used the money for improvements on the Oswego Creek Bridge on State Street. Kerr Parkway today is a two-lane road with a separated bike/pedestrian path. Not a bad outcome. Regardless, Mt. Park infrastructure was paid by the developer, not the city.
Compare Mt. Park to what is proposed in the Stafford Triangle. Stafford — actually four designated areas between Tualatin, Lake Oswego and West Linn totaling 6,230 acres — has been designated as an urban reserve that would be open to development within the next 50 years.
At a meeting in late 2018 at Athey Creek School the "Fregonese Stafford plan" was presented. The Fregonese Stafford plan middle ground of development is about 1,300 developable acres at 7 units per acre or 9,100 units or about 20,000 people (2.2 people * 9,100 residences). The Fregonese plan envisions Stafford and Rosemont Road as 4 lane highways with possible 5th turn off/on lanes and possible lane expansions on Johnson, Childs and Borland Roads to accommodate 20,000 additional residents.
In the December 2018 Portland Tribune it was estimated infrastructure costs for Stafford are about $2.7 billion. 40% of the $2.7 billion ($1.1 billion) will be borne by the Lake Oswego, Tualatin and West Linn. Talk about a difference between Mt. Park and Stafford! In one case the infrastructure costs were entirely born by the developer. In the other, 40% ($1.1 billion) of the infrastructure cost will be transferred to the three cities.
Why is this important, aside from who pays the infrastructure costs, traffic impacts, quality of life, densification, etc.? It is election time. When candidates talk about Stafford, and they should, press them on costs and who pays.
Times have changed since the 1960s. The city can't do everything. There are tradeoffs. Mountain Park offers an important lesson about the wisdom of having developers pay for infrastructure. If Mt. Park developed without city subsidy, then the same question has to be asked about Stafford. If Stafford can't be developed without city subsidy, voters should ask who pays, what city infrastructure projects will not be done and what candidates/elected officials are willing to do without in order to make this huge financial contribution.
Jeff Gudman was a member of the Lake Oswego City Council from 2011-2018 and is a candidate for Oregon state treasurer.
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