See also: Myths vs Facts
1. Initiative Petition (2020IN-1)
On December 12, 2019, our citizen initiative petition, 2020IN-1, to amend the Lake Oswego City Charter to limit development in 16 designated natural area parks was certified for signature circulation.
Between December 2019 – June 2021, over a hundred Lake Oswego citizens volunteered their time and financial resources to inform and educate nearly every Lake Oswego voter through direct mail, social media, and the local newspaper. Ultimately, collecting over 4,800 signatures (and still collecting)!
On June 23, 2021, initiative petition 2020IN-1 was certified as satisfying the signature requirements thereby qualifying Measure 3-568 for the November 2021 ballot!
2. Measure 3-568 (November 2021)
Oregon law requires the City Attorney, in our case it was Mr. David Powell, to author local prospective initiative petition ballot titles (caption, question, and summary) that subsequently become the measure title, based on the initiative’s text. There is no public comment period; just a public notice period. The community had 7 days once Mr. Powell published the initiative petition’s ballot title to petition the Clackamas County Circuity Court to appeal the ballot title. The process to appeal a ballot title is not well-documented, involves costly attorneys (estimated at $3000 – $8000), and delays the ability to begin circulating petitions. There is no guarantee that an appeal after all this effort and time would render a favorable ballot title. To be clear, the ballot title does not impact the Charter amendment’s text nor its legal intent.
In 1978, the ballot title appeal process appeared to be simpler. The community would petition the City Council to appeal the ballot title. The Uplands community did just this and achieved a favorable ballot title that is representative of what is now “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 14 additional designated natural parks
(b) allow improvements for trails, benches, picnic & sanitary facilities, boardwalks, and interpretive displays
(c) allow improvements that maintain health ecosystems for wildlife, flora, and fauna
(d) prohibit new athletic facilities, new telecommunication facilities, any new structure/facility, new parking lots, and new roads (aka development limitations)
(e) prohibit commercial logging
(f) allow existing adopted park master plans to be implemented that may have development that would be prohibited by our amendment (e.g. parking lots)
(g) 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 limiting development to preserve certain City natural park properties?”
One has to question the motives for the City Attorney’s choice of language. While the City may disapprove of citizen’s leading a petition restricting them, it is our democratic right under Oregon law and the City should be ashamed of misrepresenting our community’s measure. 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 was 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!
Read our press release.
This is a common question and one that seems so obvious that these groups should be supporting Measure 3-568. In fact, early on we collected feedback from several of these groups for the natural parks and the development limitations included in Measure 3-568.
Unfortunately, these friends groups are not independent from the City. Once the citizen initiative petition was certified for circulation, these groups who worked with us (several even circulated, donated, and signed the petition), started to distance themselves under City political pressure.
It’s a fact that these friends of parks groups serve at the approval of City Council. They are no different than any other City board or commission that gets their authority from City Council. To make matters worse, many of these individuals are also board members for City boards and commissions, neighborhood associations, Oswego Watershed, and Lake Oswego Sustainability Network. They are politically intertwined and motivated to push City interests.
Here is an excerpt from the City of Lake Oswego’s friends group application:
“The application will be submitted to the Natural Resources Advisory Board (NRAB) and Parks & Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) to determine if the goals and objectives of the Friends group are compatible with and forward City priorities. The City Council shall make the final determination.“
Read the application.
This is why we sought state-level prominent environment and conservation organizations to carefully review both measures to remove local political bias. Oregon Wild and Sierra Club have formal legal and rigorous endorsement processes with no local political influence. And, they chose to endorse Citizens’ Measure 3-568.
Donations from residents from all across Lake Oswego. We are a 100% grassroots, local Lake Oswego citizen-led and funded effort. Funding comes from our LO friends, neighbors, and residents from who desire to keep our neighborhood natural parks free from development and as safe, healthy, and accessible natural habitats. Donations are made in nominal amounts of $25, $50, $100, $200 and more.
Our Charter amendment is by LO citizens for LO citizens. There is no “big money,” no out-of-town groups, no developers, no special interests, and no ulterior motives behind our efforts.
Who wants to protect our natural parks? Us, the ordinary citizens of Lake Oswego, who love, cherish, and enjoy our beautiful city’s natural parks with their abundant active and health wildlife. That’s it!
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. Measure 3-568‘s charter amendment codifies the rules by which the City must operate to protect these parks as natural habitats forever (or until voters decide otherwise).
The City has had decades to enact development protections for natural parks 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 “conditional use permit” could be authorized allowing development that is inconsistent with the natural conditions.
This City has shown over the past 30-45 years their intentions to develop these natural areas (eg. Bryant Woods, Cooks Butte, Springbrook Park, Woodmont Park, among others) only for the community to expend significant effort and financial resources to work through the City’s tedious “public” process that diminishes citizens’ voices.
Springbrook Park is the only natural area park that is protected in the City Charter. In the 1970’s the City wanted to bulldoze Springbrook park for high density housing and to develop a major athletic facility. 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 Lake Oswego’s Charter
- Researched Lake Oswego’s Parks and Recreation website
- Researched Lake Oswego’s records archive for:
- Decades of published park plans
- Decades of City Council and Parks Board meeting minutes
- Park deeds
- Informed and solicited feedback from citizens and those involved in:
- Neighborhood associations
- Friends of “parks” groups
- Lake Oswego Neighborhood Action Coalition (LONAC)
- Parks, Recreation, and Natural Resources Advisory Board (PRAB) and members
- Director of Parks and Recreation, Ivan Anderholm (+5 parks)
- Hundreds of residents across Lake Oswego
- Hosted and solicited feedback from our publicly advertised forum at the Lake Theater
- Consulted with a land-use attorney to validate and strength the text
Measure 3-568‘s charter text improves the process for including additional natural areas:
- 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. There are no restrictions imposed by Measure 3-568‘s proposed Charter amendment on pets in a natural area.
Chapter X – Park Development Limitation specifically limits development by the City to that which is consistent with maintaining these parks as natural habitats and accessible for public enjoyment.
In our meeting with Director of Parks and Recreation, Ivan Anderholm, on November 6, 2019, he explained that existing master plans were complete but not implemented and had 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. These existing master plans may contain development that would otherwise be restricted should our measure be ratified by voters.
The following natural parks have existing master plans:
- Canal Area – Not Implemented*
(Canal Acres, Bryant Woods, River Run I & II)
- Iron Mountain – Implemented
- Steven Meadows Trailhead – In-progress
- Woodmont Park – Implemented
*The Canal Area master plan is over 20 years old and should be reviewed by the City and community before moving forward.
Short answer: YES
And, the parking lot exclusion currently exists in the Charter protections enacted for Springbrook Park by citizens in 1978. Springbrook Park is the largest natural area park in our Charter amendment.
Measure 3-568‘s charter amendment builds upon the existing Charter foundation, applying the parking lot exclusion to all 16 natural parks. We also solicited input from several sources, including the Director of Parks and Recreation.
To understand this exclusion and its actual impact completely, we need to understand the complete picture of these existing natural areas – size, geography, existing parking, and existing master plans:
(1) Existing Master Plan Exemption. Measure 3-568 EXEMPTS those natural parks with existing master plans that include parking lots to allow them:
- Canal Area – Not Implemented
(Canal Acres, Bryant Woods, River Run I & II)
- Iron Mountain – Implemented
- Steven Meadows Trailhead – In-progress*
(access point to Stevens Meadow, Cooks Butte & Luscher Farms)
- Woodmont Park – Implemented
*Stevens Meadows Trailhead plan services Stevens Meadows, Cooks Butte, Luscher Farm, and future trails to the Tualatin river area.
(2) Geographically constrained. Unlike Tryon State Park which is a contiguous 658 acres, our natural parks are not one contiguous block of natural habitat; they are small natural areas intertwined in and amongst our neighborhoods. Additionally, many these natural parks size, location, and terrain would not be suitable for parking within their boundaries without significant habitat destruction:
- Cornell Natural Area (3.2 acres)
- Glennmorrie Greenway (1.3 acres)
- Hallinan Woods (3.8 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, allowed to be maintained, and exempt by Measure 3-568‘s amendment:
- Bryant Woods
(also services Canal Acres & River Run I & II)
- Iron Mountain
- Stevens Meadows
- Waluga Park – West
- Woodmont Park
(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 with ample street parking at trail heads
- Stevens Meadows
- Stevens Meadows Trail Head (13 spots w/ another 13 overflow)
- Springbrook Park
- Uplands Junior High
- Uplands Elementary
- Tennis Center
(5) Applies to only these 16 natural parks. The exclusion DOES NOT apply to parks not listed in CHAPTER X – Park Development Limitation.
The Americans With Disabilities Act is a federal law that will be honored to the extent it is applicable to one or more of these natural parks. While our Charter amendment prohibits asphalt and concrete hardscape surfaces, tightly-packed decomposed granite (or similar materials) and boardwalks are trail surfaces are allowed and are broadly used in national, state, and city wilderness areas to meet ADA requirements for public access.
Yes! Organizations like the Friends of “Parks,” Lake Oswego Watershed Organization, and Lake Oswego Sustainability Network provide an invaluable service to our community’s preservation efforts.
Measure 3-568‘s Charter amendment only limits development that is inconsistent with maintaining these natural habitats as natural areas. In fact, our amendment expects that the City and these stewardship groups to focus their efforts to maintain the health of these natural parks:
The City of Lake Oswego shall be allowed to maintain (or allow any person to maintain) a Nature Preserve for the purposes of ecological restoration that provides a safe and healthy natural area that is accessible for public enjoyment, provides a healthy habitat for wildlife, eliminates invasive species, restores native species, and mitigates fire hazards.
Yes. We have the evidence…Springbrook Park has been protected by the city charter since 1978 — over 40 years! Without these charter protections, Springbrook would have been bulldozed and developed into a major athletic facility and the tennis center and parking 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 4:3 vote of the City Council. Measure 3-568‘s amendment prevents the City Council from making rash decisions on development prohibited in our proposed charter amendment without first getting authorization from a majority of the city’s voters. It’s pretty simple.
We expect any decision to develop anything that is prohibited by Measure 3-568’s Charter amendment for these 16 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. We have elections every May and November.
Considering the value of our natural parks to our community – the value of the land, value of the abundant wildlife, value of the passive recreation offered to be with nature – we believe letting the people decide about any future development that is prohibited 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 16 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. Once we began circulating for the initiative petition’s signatures, our text was frozen. However, updates can be introduced by ballot initiative — either referred by City Council or through another citizen initiative petition.
Our LoveLOParks coalition continues to grow in membership with friends and neighbors who want to ensure our natural parks remain healthy and natural habitats. Consider joining our email subscription to stay informed and/or join one of the many “friends” of parks stewards groups who provide an invaluable service in volunteerism to maintain and preserve these habitats.
If you have something you’d like considered for a potential future citizen’s initiative, please drop us a message so we can capture it: email@example.com
Last updated: Oct 26, 2021