Frequently Asked Questions

Home » Causes » Protect Our Natural Parks » Frequently Asked Questions
Previous Page
Petition E-Sheet
Next Page

Get answers to your burning questions on the petition and the ballot initiative. Don’t see your question(s)? Send us your question

1. Petition

Yes. The petition to Protect Our Natural Parks is a separate, formal petition certified by the elections office for circulation to solicit Lake Oswego registered voter’s signatures in order to qualify the initiative for the ballot. 

Your signature on the Save Cooks Butte petition aided in our community’s success to show our solidarity against a telecommunications tower in our natural park.

Yes. The information card’s purpose was to collect contact details so we could contact you when the official petition was available for signing.

Oregon law requires the City Attorney, in our case Mr. David Powell, to author local prospective initiative petition ballot titles (caption, question, and summary) based on the initiative’s text. There is no public comment period; just a public notice period. The community has 7 days once published to petition the Clackamas County Circuity Court to appeal a ballot title. The process to appeal a ballot title is not well-documented, involves costly attorneys (estimated at $3000 – $8000), and delays ability to circulate petitions. There is no guarantee that an appeal after all this effort would render a favorable ballot title. To be clear, the ballot title does not change the initiative’s text.

In 1978, the ballot title appeal process appeared more simple. The community could petition the City Council to appeal a ballot title. The Uplands community did just this and achieved a favorable ballot title that is representative of “Chapter X – Park Development Limitation”:

“Shall the City Charter be amended for the purpose of preserving Springbrook Park as a natural area?”

City Resolution R-78-53, September 5, 1978

We are revising Chapter X – Park Development Limitation to: (a) include additional natural areas, (b) include additional development limitations, (c) allow improvements that maintain health ecosystems for wildlife, flora, and fauna, (d) prohibit commercial logging, (e) allows existing adopted park master plans to be implemented, and (f) improve the process to include additional natural areas in the future.

An appropriate title would have been: “Shall the Lake Oswego Charter be amended for the purpose of preserving certain City parks as natural areas?”

One has to question the motives for the City Attorney’s choice of language. While the City may disapprove of the community’s petition, it is our democratic right under Oregon law and the City should be ashamed of misrepresenting our community’s initiative. We deserved an unbiased ballot caption and question.

Mr. Powell’s caption and question omit “natural,” equate the development limitations to “restricting improvements,” and ignores the fact that the original ballot title given this chapter in 1978 was to “preserve” Springbrook Park as a “natural area” while the same is true in 2019 for these additional natural areas. These are natural areas that by definition in published City parks documents do not have developed recreational facilities. And, one could argue strongly that any above-ground structure, yet alone, telecommunications towers or commercial logging are not “improvements” to natural areas. In fact, improvements would be ensuring these natural areas are ecologically healthy and vibrant for wildlife, flora, and fauna to flourish — which we have included specifically in the revised amendment! 

Yes. We will publish locations you can come to learn more about this 100% grassroots, citizen-led initiative and to sign in-person on this website.

Or, you can download, print, sign, and mail back a petition e-sheet from the comfort of your own home: Click here to get the petition.

Oregon law allows you to download an electronic single-signer petition form, print it, sign it, and mail it back to us via postal mail. Click here to get the petition.

Signing the petition means you believe our community should be given the opportunity to decide and vote on the intent and merits of this prospective initiative. We need 4,365 Lake Oswego voter signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Donations. We are a 100% grassroots, local citizen-led effort. Funding comes from our friends and neighbors from all around Lake Oswego who want to preserve these natural areas with nominal donations of $25, $50, $100, and more.

There is no “big money” ​nor out-of-town group behind our efforts.  Who wants to save our natural parks?  The citizens who love our City’s natural parks.  That’s it!

Our success will be communicating (advertising, mailers, yard signs, website, etc) to every Lake Oswego resident with factual information about OUR initiative to Protect Our Natural Parks through the petition phase and all-the-way through the election phase. We couldn’t do this without our friends and neighbor’s generous time, effort, and financial support.


2. Ballot Initiative

No. There is NO COST to the taxpayer and NO increase in our property taxes to enact these common sense development limitations to protect our natural parks. The charter amendment codifies the rules by which the City must operate to preserve these parks as natural area parks forever.

The City has had decades to enact regulations in the Lake Oswego Code but has failed to do so. The current code for Parks and Natural Areas (PNA) and Sensitive Lands (SL) are inadequate to protect these natural areas. Building code classifies many of these natural areas as “acceptable use” meaning a “condition use permit” could be authorized allowing development that is inconsistent with the natural conditions. This City has shown over the last 30 years at multiple parks their intentions to place structures in these natural areas only for the community to expend significant effort to prevent them.

Springbrook Park is the only natural area park that is protected in the City Charter by name. The City wanted to turn Springbrook into a developed park with athletic facilities in the 1970’s. The community wanted Springbrook to remain a natural park. In 1978, the community voted 3-1 to amend the City Charter to preserve Springbrook Park as a natural area. Since early 2000’s the City desired to expand the Tennis Center into Springbrook Park, the Uplands community reminded them of the charter restrictions thereby proving the charter restrictions protect parks.

  • Researched the City of Lake Oswego’s Parks and Recreation website
  • Reviewed decades of published park plans
  • Reviewed several park deeds
  • Informed and solicited neighborhood association chairs
  • Consulted Parks, Recreation, and Natural Resources Advisory Board members
  • Consulted the Director of Parks and Recreation
  • Spoke with hundreds of Lake Oswego residents

We have expanded the means to introduce additional parks in the language of the Charter amendment:

  • a property owner can deed property as a “Nature Preserve,”
  • the Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Advisory Board and/or the Director of Parks and Recreation can nominate property for a “Nature Preserve” designation for the City Council to ratify,
  • the community can add property as a “Nature Preserve” through a ballot initiative, and
  • a bond voted upon can specify property to be designated as a “Nature Preserve.”

No. Chapter X – Park Development Limitation specifically limits development activities by the City to that which is consistent to the preservation of these parks as natural areas. There are no restrictions imposed in Chapter X on pets in a natural area.

These existing master plans have been vetted with the community over a period of time. We didn’t want to exclude these natural areas in the chapter for Park Development Limitations while recognizing these plans are already in place. Since several master plans are many years old, in some cases decades old, we expect the City to review and update them with community involvement that reflects our desire to preserve these natural areas.

This exclusion solicited input from several sources, including the Director of Parks and Recreation. To understand this exclusion and its actual impact, we need to understand the complete picture of these existing natural areas:

(1) Existing Master Plan Exemption. The initiative EXEMPTS those listed natural parks with existing master plans that specify parking 

  • Iron Mountain
  • River Run/Canal Acres/Bryant Woods
  • Stevens Homestead/Meadows (will also be an access point to Cooks Butte & Luscher Farms)
  • Woodmont Natural Park

Master plans for Iron Mountain and Stevens Homestead consider their impact to these natural areas they service and are an excellent utilization of space to provide parking and access.

The Stevens Homestead plan services Stevens Meadows, Cooks Butte, Luscher Farm, and future trails to the Tualatin river area. It’s a sensible approach that links these magnificent parks’ trails into a comprehensive nature experience while minimizing impact to the natural areas themselves.

(2) Geographically constrained. Many of the listed natural parks SIZE, LOCATION, and TERRAIN are not suitable for parking within their boundaries. They are relatively small neighborhood natural parks.

  • Cornell Natural Area (3.2 acres)
  • Glennmorrie Greenway (1.3 acres)
  • Kerr Open Space (10 acres)
  • Lamont Springs Natural Area (0.5 acres)
  • Southshore Natural Area (9.2 acres)

(3) Existing Parking. Natural parks with EXISTING parking is considered pre-existing and exempt from the exclusion.

  • Bryant Woods (also services Canal Acres)
  • Stevens Meadows
  • Waluga Park – West

(4) Access to Parking. Many have ACCESS to parking from adjacent public property or have several access points with available street parking.

  • Cooks Butte (4 entrances street parking BUT MORE parking to come with the Stevens Homestead plan)
  • Hallinan Woods (via Hallinan Elementary)
  • Springbrook Park (via Uplands Elementary)

(5) Applies to only listed natural parks. The exclusion DOES NOT apply to parks not listed in CHAPTER X – Park Development Limitation. It really only affects 5-6 of these natural parks.

Yes. We have the evidence…Springbrook Parks has been protected by the city charter since 1978. It would have been developed into a major athletic facility and the tennis center expansion would have removed acreage from the park. Springbrook Park is the only natural park protected by the charter today.

The city can modify laws for parks, or any ordinance for that matter, quickly by a simple majority vote of the City Council (only 4 votes). Our amendment prevents the City Council from making rash decisions to develop these 15 natural parks without first getting authorization from a majority of the city’s voters. It’s pretty simple.

We expect any decision to develop anything in any of these 15 natural parks will be – and should be – a rare event. Such a vote will rarely happen.  If it does, it will likely occur with no added public expense on dates when other issues are presented to voters.  

​Considering the value of our natural parks to our community – the value of the land, of the abundant wildlife, of the passive recreation offered to be with nature – we believe letting the people decide about any future development on those rare occasions is the right thing to do.

Oregon voters amend charters in their cities across our state.  Charter amendments reflect local concerns and values.  For instance, voters in Hood River, West Linn, and Corvallis amended their charters to protect parks from sale without the people’s vote. Sandy’s citizens used an amendment to give them a vote to approve annexations. Pendleton voters amended their charter to keep solid waste transfer stations away from homes. Oregon’s voter initiatives show a healthy respect for the will of the people and city charters reflect those values.

We don’t know the full effect of many kinds of legislation, but people take action when they believe that they are supporting a long-term benefit and acting responsibly.  Many times the debate over unintended consequences are used to cast doubt and fear in voters. Our charter amendment’s intent is clear…it limits development and commercial logging that is inconsistent with maintaining these 15 natural parks as natural habitats with healthy and safe ecosystems for wildlife to flourish and are accessible for the public’s passive recreation enjoyment.

We expect this amendment to be invoked only rarely, if ever, and only when the City presents a compelling case to our community through the ballot process on why a natural habitat should be altered by human development.  

No. We can continue to introduce updates by ballot initiative. As a community, we are gaining momentum and we will continue to do so. This website will continue to exist to hold our City representatives and staff accountable to us and to support our community in preserving what makes Lake Oswego such a unique and special community to live.

If you have something you’d like considered for a future initiative, please drop us a message so we can capture it:

Last updated: February 17, 2020

Previous Page
Petition E-Sheet
Next Page