30 Oct

Storm (and not the kind that involves water) at Planning Commission

Monday, October 26 the Planning and Development Review Commissions held a joint work session to discuss the new Stormwater Code and Manual. It was, in a nutshell, a storm but not the kind that involves water. Once Staff provided its review the Commissioners went to work. In general their comments were in three areas.
There was general agreement that the “triggers” (those points that invoke complying with the rules) were too low. At a project of 200 square feet or more the starting point means almost every property making an impervious surface change will be included.Note it is a change, not an addition. So, if you replace your driveway you must comply.
Staff’s response was that the TDML requires this. Not true, in fact, the TDML sets no requirements with respect to square footage or triggers. Staffs own presentation stated that even MS4 (municipal stormwater permit) only requires projects over 3000 square feet be dealt with.
The Commissioners are rightly concerned with the costs to citizens. If a project of over 200 square feet (such as a 10 foot by 20 foot new patio) takes place ALL the new stormwater requirements come into play. This could require hiring an engineer and/or a landscape architect to design the stormwater retention that is needed under the new code.
The proposal requires that “deed restrictions” (later corrected by counsel as Covenants) must be filed with the County and carried with the deed to ensure that the system is maintained. The details of the proposal were labeled as “onerous” by some Commissioners. One asked if there is no added impervious surface just replacement, why do we need requirements?”
Unfortunately, it appears most of the Commissioners comments fell on deaf ears. Staff replied to many comments with some form of the regulations require this. We sincerely doubt this. But the Commissioners asked for information which Staff did not have – what are neighboring communities doing? When this information is presented or sent to Commissioners, it will likely show that Lake Oswego has once again gone way beyond what others are doing. And that isn’t right is it?
We urge you to understand the issues and either write to the Planning Commission (PlanningCommission@LakeOswego.city) or go the meeting on November 23rd at 6:30 PM and make your comments in person (fill out a slip and hand it to the clerk). It is very important to make your opinion known.
What do you think? Leave us a comment here. Write a letter to the editor of the Review here:

26 Oct

New City Stormwater Regulations – A Storm Is Coming

Have you heard about the new City Stormwater proposals? Pay attention, it affects you!
This proposed new code and accompanying manual establishes a new City regulatory regime far tougher than the Tree Code or Sensitive Lands. You say how can that be?

Well, if you add a 200 square foot patio to your backyard, you would trigger the entire regulatory requirement of the new code. You could have to add rain gardens and other “mitigation” measures for stormwater to your property. And that could cost you thousands of dollars; all because of a new patio. But wait it gets better.

Let’s say you want to replace that stone driveway with asphalt or just repave your asphalt driveway which has been there for years. You have hit “Stormwater Bingo” and you won all the new regulations on you! Yes, that is what is proposed.

Want to remodel your house or add a room on – “Stormwater Bingo” winner again. You may have to retrofit your entire downspout system and put in a rain garden.

This proposal goes far beyond what the EPA and State regulations require, way beyond. For example, the EPA and State want stormwater requirements only if you create 3000 square feet or more of impervious surface. That definition does not even include most new houses. But In Lake Oswego we want to go further, much further and bring the requirement down to 200 square feet.

One of the things covered is “ground disturbing activities” whether or not a permit is required. The definition of ground disturbing activities is nowhere to be found. Guess that means City staff will be nosing around if you decide to change plantings or put a vegetable garden in your backyard.

Oh, and if you have stormwater things you must do according to the new code then you must have an Operations and Maintenance Plan and DEED restrictions filed with the county. Yes, a deed restriction must be filed about your “Stormwater Plan”.

Have the City staff and management gone crazy? Do they really believe all this is necessary? Apparently they do and they are bringing it forward for implementation as early as February of next year! Yes, that is correct – you could be subject to all this by next February.

You can read the new Stormwater Manual here:

The first work session with the Planning Commission is Monday October 26 at 6:30 PM.

The next meeting after that about the Stormwater Plan is a Planning Commission hearing on November 23rd at 6:30 PM

You can let the Planning Commission know what you think by writing them here:

22 Oct

Water Bills

There have been numerous complaints about “water bills”. These bills are called “utility bills” by the City. We’d call them City Fees. There are 5 components to the City bill:

  • Fixed water charges – all single residences pay the same amount
  • Water Usage charges – varies by amount of water in hundred cubic feet used
  • Sewer – a charge that is both fixed tied to how much water is used
  • Surface Water- a fixed charge for the storm water system
  • Street Maintenance – a fixed charge that goes to repair streets

But why have these bills gone up so much?

Source: Lake Oswego Master Fees and Charges 2015 Effective January 1, 2015

As you can see in the above chart and table in the past 10 years almost all charges have gone up and 3 of the 4 have more than doubled. Why?

Our past City Councils with their big spending programs have caused many of these increases by the decisions they made years ago. For example, look at the following chart and see how Wastewater charges jump (blue line). That is caused by the famous LOIS (Lake Oswego Interceptor Sewer). Bonds were used to fund this project – over $90 million of bonds! Did we need to spend that much?

Source: Lake Oswego Master Fees and Charges Effective January 1, 2015

The LOIS Project was very expensive and few alternatives were evaluated.

Then we have the brain child of former Mayor Julie Hammerstead – the Lake Oswego Tigard Water Project (LOTWP). It is building a Cadillac, a water plant with capacity of 36 million gallons per day. Lake Oswego’s average usage is less than 6 million gallons per day but Tigard is getting 18 million gallons per day. And Lake Oswego is paying 46% of the building cost!

At the same time, the City is increasing the cost per hundred cubic feet of water used. The first 800 cubic feet cost $2.62 per hundred cubic feet. Over 1700 cubic feet costs $7.06 per hundred cubic feet. If you used 5800 cubic feet of water in August as one of our Board members did your water alone would be $347.64.

Why has the cost per cubic foot of water gone up so much? The charts below show the water bills fixed and variable parts. Note that the fixed part began rising in 2011-12. This is when the LOTWP started! And the variable rates have been going up as well – even though we are using the same water and water plant in prior years. The reason – LOTWP costs.


This project was conceived under prior City Councils. Since taking office in 2012 members of the current Council have taken steps to reduce the ownership costs for the new water plant. But costs continue to be added to this project and the Council. At the October 6th meeting, the Council approved on the consent agenda another $500,000 in costs for the project!

How do we change this?

Unfortunately, not much can be done about these projects and your City Fee bills. BUT, we can change things moving forward. We can work to elect City Council members and a Mayor who will take charge of the City and stop all the spending.

Elections are coming in 2016!

Pay attention to who will pledge to stop the spending!


21 Oct

Welcome to The New LOCAL Page.

We are a non-partisan Political Action Committee created by local citizens to promote responsive city governance. Members of LOCAL come from a broad spectrum of the community. We represent parents, students, retirees, business owners, tax payers, home owners, and renters, and reflect a wide range of varied backgrounds and beliefs. What unites us is our shared LOCAL values. We are just pushing a new update and design–check back soon!