Scott Handley, Chief Petitioner, introduced the community’s prospective petition initiative, 2020IN-1, to City Council. After Scott’s comments, several Councilors asked questions about the initiative. Watch and read below.
Subject: Prospective Petition Initiative – 2020IN-1
Good afternoon and hello again. I’m Scott Handley, a Palisades Neighborhood resident. I’m the Chief Petitioner for the community-led petition initiative, 2020IN-1, to “protect Lake Oswego’s natural parks for residents, visitors, and future generations.” This prospective initiative amends Lake Oswego’s Charter Chapter X – Park Development Limitation.
Chapter X (- Park Development Limitation) was enacted in 1978 by a similar community-led ballot initiative to “preserve Springbrook Park as a natural area.” It prevented Springbrook Park from being developed into an athletic facility. The community voted 3-1 in-favor to preserve Springbrook Park. Not long ago, Chapter X protected Springbrook Park, again, when the City considered plans to expand the Tennis Center into this natural area. Springbrook Park is the only natural park subject to Chapter X today.
Our initiative extends Chapter X to include 15 additional City designated natural area parks, in 9 neighborhood associations, comprising of approximately 290 acres of natural and open space land, while strengthening limitations on development that is incompatible and inconsistent with their natural conditions, prohibiting commercial logging (in these natural areas), allowing improvements to maintain safe and healthy ecosystems for wildlife, flora, and fauna to thrive in their natural habitat and for residents to enjoy, and expanding the methods to include additional parks in the future.
These 15 natural areas are small and intertwined into the fabric of our neighborhoods and our community. Their ecosystems are host to abundant wildlife that give many in the community refuge and respite from the increasingly developed world that surrounds our tree-canopied city. Several of these natural areas were gifts to the community by families who saw our innate human desire to develop these lands and they wished them to remain forever wild. The community should be guaranteed these pockets of nature are left to remain as healthy ecosystems in their natural condition. Our initiative, 2020IN-1, does just that. The community preserved Springbrook Park, we must now preserve these 15 natural parks too.
While some say our effort is misguided, our effort stands on firm ground. It is a response to past actions and inactions. This initiative and the 15 natural parks it protects are the result of research and community outreach efforts. It honors the wishes of family’s whom deeded natural areas to this community. While a few (community) leaders have chosen not to participate, far more have offered their encouragement, support, and input.
I invite our City Councilors to discuss, collaborate, and embrace this common sense natural park preservation initiative. These protections should not be exclusive to Springbrook Park. Such protections are emphasized in decades of City parks plans; the Open Space Plan adopted in 2001 laid out a blueprint to protect heritage landscapes while no action has been taken; the Parks Plan 2025 adopted in 2012 highlights the overwhelming importance of these natural areas to the community through their outreach programs. It’s time to codify protections guaranteeing these natural areas can never be developed upon, keeping Lake Oswego’s legacy as the Tree City intact for generations to come. It is the moral and right thing to do. It will restore goodwill and faith with our community.
While the ballot title, “Restricts improvements on certain Lake Oswego park properties,” assigned by the City may be imperfect, the Charter revisions proposed by our initiative are crystal clear, as they were for Springbrook Park in 1978. Our initiative “Protects 15 Lake Oswego natural parks as nature preserves limiting development that is inconsistent and incompatible with their natural conditions.”