Betsy Wosko reminds us about Oregon’s Comprehensive Plan and its priority for community involvement as a necessary balancing force against developer and financial interests in protecting our environment.
Today we face an existential environmental crisis, with climate change and mass extinctions. This is why I encourage you to sign the petition to protect LO Parks.
Tom McCall was Oregon’s governor from 1967 through 1975. An environmental maverick, he passed the nation’s first bottle bill and made great efforts at cleaning up the Willamette River. In 1973, with Senate Bill 100, he ushered in the Comprehensive Plan (“CP”), which did three things: (1) created a set of 19 statewide goals, most of which dealt with preserving and protecting our environment; (2) required local governments to pass their own CPs, tailored to their areas; and (3) created the Land Conservation and Development Commission, a state agency responsible for ensuring compliance of local governments with respect to their own CPs.
Goal #1 of the CP was “citizen involvement.” Now, why, for a bill which purpose was to protect and preserve the environment, would goal #1 be citizen involvement? What Gov. McCall presciently and wisely foresaw was that development interests, because of profit motive and because developers often serve on planning commissions and city boards and councils, would have an outsized influence on policy and practice which could adversely affect our natural environment. Citizen involvement, then, was designed to be a check against the potential for self-serving, short-sighted and environmentally irresponsible development.
Today we face an existential environmental crisis, with climate change and mass extinctions, including insects and birds. Thousands of mature trees in our City — the foundation of our ecosystem — have been removed in just the past several years because of development.
This is why I encourage you to sign the petition to protect LO Parks, a citizen initiative for a city charter amendment which would provide some baseline of protection against commercial development for trees in 14 small parks, tracking the same protections Springbrook Park currently enjoys. We need to do a lot more; but this is a good start. Development interests already have too cozy a relationship with the City, as evidenced by the thousands of old trees felled, and especially because the City has refused to consider and weigh the CP in deciding to allow so many old trees to be felled. We need to get back to basics, recognize the CP as the environmental and land use Constitution that it is, and heed Gov. McCall’s implicit warning. Please go to www.LoveLOParks.org/petition and add your voice to this good cause.
Betsy Wosko is a Lake Oswego resident.