Citizen Initiative Petition 2020IN-1 Receives Approval to Circulate


LAKE OSWEGO, Oregon – December 12, 2019 – Love Lake Oswego Parks Committee is pleased to announce that citizen initiative petition 2020IN-1 has received approval to circulate. 2020IN-1 seeks to revise Lake Oswego’s City Charter “Chapter X – Park Development Limitation” to protect 15 additional Lake Oswego’s natural parks by limiting development that is inconsistent with maintaining them as natural habits. 2020IN-1 has two years (until December 11, 2021) to collect 4,365 valid Lake Oswego registered voter signatures to qualify for the ballot,

Chapter X – Park Development Limitation was overwhelmingly ratified by Lake Oswego voters in 1978 to “preserve Springbrook Park as a natural area”; the result of a similar citizen initiative effort to protect Springbrook Park from being developed into a significant athletic facility. Springbrook Park is the only natural park with City Charter protection from development; Chapter X has protected Springbrook Park recently from City attempts to expand the tennis center and encroach upon this natural habitat.

Citizens are pursuing protections due to repeated City attempts to develop one or more of our natural parks. Recently, citizens strongly opposed the City’s plans to develop a major telecommunications facility atop Cooks Butte, the third time (1994, 2002, and 2019) in three decades. Cooks Butte was deeded to the City in 1975 by the Emery family for the purposes of remaining a natural habitat. With the assistance of the Emery family, citizens have protected Cooks Butte each time.

By Oregon statute, the City Attorney, David Powell, authors and publishes the ballot title (caption, question, and summary) for local citizen initiative petitions. When a citizen initiative qualifies for the ballot, this is the ballot title for the measure.

On December 2, 2019, Mr. Powell published the following ballot title for citizen initiative petition 2020IN-1:

CAPTION: Restricts improvements on certain Lake Oswego park properties.

QUESTION: Should the Lake Oswego City Charter be amended to restrict improvements on certain city park properties? 

SUMMARY: This Charter amendment was placed on the ballot through an initiative petition.
  • Applies initially to Bryant Woods Park, Canal Acres, Cooks Butte Park, Cornell Natural Area, Glenmorrie Greenway, Hallinan Woods, Iron Mountain Park, Kerr Open Space, Lamont Springs Natural Area, River Run, Southshore Natural Area, Springbrook Park, Stevens Homestead, Stevens Meadows, West Waluga Park, and Woodmont Natural Park.
  • Designates these properties as “Nature Preserves.”
  • Prohibits above-ground facilities or structures that would impair or be inconsistent with natural conditions. Also prohibits hard-surface trails, parking lots, athletic fields or facilities, roads, trails for motorized vehicles, tree-cutting for certain purposes, and telecommunications facilities. 100
  • Previously-constructed facilities or structures may be maintained if not altered in any manner that further impairs or is inconsistent with natural conditions. Allows soft-surface trails, benches, interpretive displays, and picnic and sanitary facilities. Allows the city to implement previously-adopted park master plans.
  • Applies the same restrictions to any park property acquired in the future, if designated as a “Nature Preserve” by the conveying property owners, the city, or voters.
Ballot title as assigned by David Powell, City Attorney

The City Attorney is not obligated to provide a public comment period before publishing ballot titles. Once published, a public notice period commences for any citizen to challenge a ballot title. A petition to appeal a ballot title must be filed within 7 days with the Clackamas County Circuit Court. 

Mr. Powell’s ballot title for citizen initiative petition 2020IN-1 has two material defects:

  • The Caption and Question are misleading and inaccurate according to the intent of the proposed the petition’s Charter amendment’s text to limit development in City natural parks
  • The Summary excludes a significant provision for natural park maintenance, accessibility, and fire prevention

A ballot title appeal involves costly attorneys (estimated at $3000 – $8000) and delays the ability to begin circulating petitions for signature collection. Additionally, there are no guarantees an appeal would render a changed, more accurate ballot title. While the ballot title is misleading, it does not impact the legal intent for the initiative’s proposed Charter amendment.

“As a grassroots effort, we have to make difficult decisions to manage our limited resources, therefore we’ve decided not to pursue a ballot title challenge,” states Chief Petitioner Scott Handley. “We are definitely unhappy with the City’s intentionally biased ballot title, but we’re confident that Lake Oswego citizens, though our outreach, will understand the true intent of our proposed Charter amendment’s text and will sign the initiative’s petition.”

Learn more:

2020IN-1 Petition:

Love LO Parks is a Lake Oswego grassroots citizen coalition seeking to influence Lake Oswego’s city policy and regulations to legally and permanently protect our natural parks from future development while advocating for their maintenance to preserve them as vibrant and healthy natural habitats for residents, visitors, and future generations to enjoy.