Pruning a hedge

Candidate Photos courtesy of the Lake Oswego Review & Pamplin Media

City Council Candidate

Intro: Lake Oswego Sustainability Network reached out to our City Council Candidates and asked them three sustainability-related questions about: 1) their plans for sustainability action, 2) increasing affordable housing, and 3) embedding sustainability considerations into city projects.

What are your plans for sustainable action and what are you going to do to make it happen?

My four-year service on Council has included Sustainability and Climate change in my factors when making the many policy decisions. That hands on approach and philosophy will continue. Coupled with public input, financial stewardship, and collaborative problem solving, Lake Oswego became a leader in the Metro area by making sensible policy that included environmental and economic sustainability thinking. We made sure that our renewal of our garbage and recycling contract, our capital projects like the recent City Hall and the upcoming LO Recreation and Aquatic Center all had a sustainability mindset. The management practices of our parks, and decisions on building codes all have a sustainability philosophy when decisions are made. Council adopted a new sustainability plan and works closely with the Sustainability Advisory Board to continue implementing best practices.

In a broader sense, educating our community on the day-to-day advantages of sustainability and best practices is a key role of City leadership. Besides easy adoptions of electric and hybrid cars, battery operated lawn tools, LED lights, proper insulation, recycling, and solar, there is the protection of natural areas and our watershed. With LOSN and the Watershed Council as wonderful community partners, serious headway to much better practices and action values happen every year.

Lake Oswego is moving forward in authorizing affordable housing on Boones Ferry Road in Lake Oswego. People who make 80% of the area median income would be eligible. For a family of four in 2021 that would be about $74,000 – about what a firefighter or teacher makes. Should Lake Oswego continue to find opportunities for more affordable housing? What are creative ideas you have or policies you might put forward to further help Lake Oswego’s affordable housing stock grow?

We must continue to address middle housing shortages in Lake Oswego. In the last four years we have supported three new middle housing projects – two on Boones Ferry and one at Marylhurst. These are the first projects in over a decade. We made focused use of one-time funding from COVID and ARPA grants which were instrumental in initiating middle housing in Boones Ferry. The service minded Sisters at Marylhurst were able to dedicate resources for their project and we supported and partnered with them by re-districting the area. The new North Anchor project will have some subsidized middle housing units.

Scarcity of land is an unfortunate reality. There are still opportunities at Foothills for middle housing when that area can be developed. Similar to North Anchor, new projects can have a portion of units dedicated to subsidized middle housing in exchange for reduced system development fees. Private industry needs the incentives to develop middle housing and with the Metro housing tax, future funds may become available.

The City is currently in the design process for a new Wastewater Treatment plant and a Recreation Center. In both these cases, many sustainability opportunities were only explored late in the design process and at the request of citizens. What would you do to embed sustainability considerations in City projects from the very beginning including citizen input?

To say that sustainability was not part of the early conversation is disingenuous. In both projects referenced, there was a tremendous amount of citizen input and involvement throughout all the initial stages with many sustainable goals achieved very early in the process. As projects become more finalized in the planning stage, there is always opportunity to review projects through multiple lenses. Sustainability values, impacts and beliefs were appreciated in both of these projects. All recent city projects including City Hall, Adult Community Center, park bathrooms, and LORAC have many sustainable features. In any project, there is always the competing balance of available budgets and features needed and wanted.

In the case of the Sewer Treatment Plant, this is a unique project because it is a Private Public Partnership. The number one objective is to minimize the impact on Sewer rates for our ratepayers while providing a reliable and sustainable environmental and economic plant for the future. Working with a private company that will design, build, and operate this facility is slightly different than a normal city only managed project. In this project, the private party was very receptive to sustainability goals as the design process became more developed.

Note: some readers perceived this question as critical of the City leadership. This was not our intent. We have been pleased with the degree to which the City has collaborated with us on sustainability and made sustainability a focus in their operations. Our goal was to elicit ideas on how collaboration between the city and citizens could be structured. Our apologies for not making our intent clearer.