Doug McKean’s Citizen’s View in this week’s LO Review, “Opposition grows to initiative by LoveLOParks,” is another attempt to mislead our community. If you haven’t yet read Mr. McKean’s opinion, take a moment to do so. Then, read our rebuttal to his misleading statements, essentially reiterating Ms. Gronowski’s misinformed Citizen’s View, to learn the facts.
Our numbers show a completely different story — our message resonates with the Lake Oswego community. Our citizen initiative was only certified 6-weeks ago, amidst TWO major holidays. Since then, we’ve seen a steady increase in community appreciation for our initiative. Whether on the street or through mail, our neighbors across all of Lake Oswego have expressed their gratitude for bringing this debate to our community to decide. Our community seeks guarantees that our natural areas remain protected from future City development inconsistent with maintaining them as natural habitats. Our numbers are grounded in concrete analytics — website traffic, subscription growth, endless conversations with neighbors and LO residents, and above all petition signatures! What about Mr. McKean’s?
Just The Facts
McKean: “…it puts too many limitations on our ability to manage our natural areas.”
LoveLOParks: We thoughtfully and concisely chose the Charter amendment wording with purpose and intent on “limiting development” and “commercial logging” while reinforcing the City’s need to maintain these 15 natural parks as “healthy and safe habitats.”
McKean: “Could not install hard surface trails limiting access to individuals with disabilities.”
LoveLOParks: While the Charter amendment prohibits asphalt and concrete hard surface trails, decomposed granite and/or tightly packed crushed gravel is used in natural areas across the nation to meet ADA requirements. Such materials make for durable natural trails suitable for wheelchairs, strollers, and bicycles. Our initiative also allows “boardwalks” to ensure “access to the public.”
McKean: “Could not build a trail useable by the departments ATVs…”
LoveLOParks: This is a misrepresentation of the intent specified in the Charter. A trail prohibition for motorized vehicle exists already today for Springbrook Park. When one looks at the full context of Chapter X, the Charter’s intention is specifically about prohibiting the development of roads and trails for “public” motorized activities. The amendment goes further to ensure the City is allowed to maintain these natural areas to remain healthy, safe, and accessible for the public.
McKean: “Could not add any parking near trailheads…”
LoveLOParks: While our amendment prohibits any new master plan from implementing parking, it purposefully exempts existing master park plans. When you look comprehensively at these 15 natural areas, the facts are clear:
- Existing parking lots are unaffected and can be maintained
- Bryant Woods (connector to Canal Woods & River Run)
- Stevens Meadows
- West Waluga Park
- Many parks have access to adjacent parking
- Cooks Butte (4 entrances w/ ample street parking)
- Hallinan Woods
- Springbrook Park
- Existing park master plans for natural parks are exempt
- Canal Acres (Bryant Woods, Canal Acres, River Run)
- Iron Mountain
- Stevens Homestead (connector to Stevens Meadows & Cooks Butte)
- Woodmont Natural Area
- Remaining parks size and geography likely unsuitable for in-park parking lots
- Cornell Natural Area (3.2 acres)
- Glennmorrie Greenway (1.3 acres)
- Kerr Open Space (10 acres)
- Lamont Springs Natural Area (05. acre)
- South Shore Natural Area (9.2 acres)
McKean: “Could not employ common forest management practices (such as thinning and removing dangerous trees) and recoup the costs by selling the trees.”
LoveLOParks: Our Charter amendment clearly states the intent for maintaining our natural areas. It ONLY prohibits the City from cutting any tree for the PURPOSES OF commercial logging. Thinning and removing dangerous trees and recouping the costs IS NOT commercial logging — this is park maintenance, that is allowed.
McKean: “Could not build any road for fire and emergency vehicles.”
LoveLOParks: A hypothetical problem? These existing natural parks are relatively small with mountainous terrain. There are no current plans to develop access roads in them. The larger natural areas, such as Cooks Butte, have existing access roads that would be usable in such situations. And, proper trail planning could facilitate such emergency needs. The amendment’s text concisely states the intent for providing accessible and safe access that mitigates fire hazards.
McKean: “The initiative…would impose once-size-fits-all limitations on how we manage 15 of our natural areas.”
LoveLOParks: Our Charter amendment “limits development” NOT management in these 15 natural areas. In fact, the amendment’s text clearly states the City should maintain these natural habitats and encourages the writing and use of park master and management plans.
McKean: “There is a much better way to do this…”
LoveLOParks: Mr. McKean’s “better way” is the same failed way of “business as usual.” His solution of the development of management plans does not provide any legal basis to limit development.
The only LEGAL PROTECTION is a Charter amendment that places the custody for any future development in any of these 15 natural areas with the community by a vote. These natural areas would be protected from any future City development plans and would require a vote of the community.
- Parks Plan 2025. A City system-wide, high-level plan with a focus on current and future park land-use. Does not address each individual park specifically. Not a binding, legal document
- Park Management Plan. Individual park plan that identifies threats and maintenance needs. Not a binding, legal document
- Deeds, City Charter, and City Code (aka Zoning). The ONLY legally binding documents;
- Deed. Contains covenants and restrictions agreed upon between the conveyor and City.
- City Charter. A contract with the community through your vote. Ratified by voting citizens.
- City Code. Laws that must be followed by the community’s residents and others wishing to develop or do business in the community. Influenced by the City’s Comprehensive Plan, City Staff, and City Council. Ratified by City Council.
Mr. McKean is right that we share “the same goal — to preserve our city’s natural areas.” His opinion, and those sympathetic with the City, are focused on stewardship activities to maintain these natural areas as healthy habitats. While we fully support and encourage stewardship and a working relationship with the City, our Charter amendment establishes a legal contract between the City and our community to limit development inconsistent with maintaining our parks as natural habitats. Both stewardship and legal protections will help us guarantee we “preserve” these natural areas for the foreseeable future.