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:

11 thoughts on “New City Stormwater Regulations – A Storm Is Coming

  1. If what I have just read re: proposed new regulations on stormwater runoff is accurate, I strongly oppose this type of “protection” Seriously, if individuals on city council were concerned about environmental impact, would they be allowing the unabated growth in building that is occurring in just the 1st Addition alone? Tress coming down, mud everywhere, trucks taking over the streets and the streets falling apart! All in the name of the city….NEEDS YOUR MONEY! Watch out for this and more to come! Happy Halloween….

  2. This is an extraordinarily recklessly written article. There are very good reasons for protecting our watershed. We live on a lake; EPA and state rules are not necessarily sufficient in our case.

    We all have a responsibility to preserve the land we share. Private property does not mean you get to ignore the impacts of what you do with your property.

    I would hope more balance and factual information is provided with future articles on new Council ordinances planned or pending. It would much better serve the community to do so.

    1. How is this article reckless when it is reporting what the Planning and DRC Commissioners said at their meeting? Are the Commissioners reckless? I think the Commissioners were not against protecting our watershed but were concerned that the proposed ordnance goes beyond what is reasonable for citizens.

  3. Lake Oswego is becoming too expensive a place to live anymore… I can hardly afford my water/sewage bill (!) and If this storm water plan goes though it will be one more reason to leave. The town already has trouble attracting new families to the area because of housing prices now it is pricing out the old residents. Is this town going to be a place where only ultra rich people can afford to live? Is this what the city wants? Stop passes such plans and expensive measures that are forcing residents out!

  4. This is the most costly issue to the citizens of the city of Lake O in my 29 years of working and living in this/my city. I have designed over 400 custom homes and major remodels in LO. I know this is a Federal mandate that is from the clean water act but this is WAY to harsh a penalty to pay for any impervious area over a measly 201 sf. That is a small single car garage or patio. You can plan to pay an extra $5,000 to $10,000 to have your house added on to just because you added 201 sf. I know this because I have to plan for this on every job. The city does not have a scale if it is slightly more than 200. I have never reached out to the general public before but we need to find another way to clean our rain water and our Lake.
    Keith Abel

  5. This is just another example of how government believes that the homeowner is not capable of taking care of their property. When we elected the mayor and commission two years ago, we did so with the understanding that this type of nannyism would stop. We will not support it. Wake up, city council.

  6. Many well intended plans are the products of well educated people but these people may lack practical knowledge. There is a need to educate the citizens so that everyone has knowledge of what is happening.

  7. Once again our socialist leaning whacks running things think that they can edict a way to grab money for doing noting except protecting us from the boogeyman phantom crisis that the lake will fill up with poop (they forgot the fish poop tons of poop into the lake every year, let alone of tons of leaves and biomass that rot in the lake). ‘Please City Government save us from ourselves’!!!! They will now need to hire a couple of engineers, a group of Nazi patrolmen and a bookkeeper to count the money, and probably lease a building (so that they can justify buying another “West City Hall” building someday.

  8. Having watched most of the meeting, the Planning and DRC commissioners expressed many concerns about this controlling staff plan. They didn’t like how low the thresh hold is to trigger these revised regulations (for example replacing an existing driveway, adding on a second story, or a mere 201 square foot patio) and one commissioner, a civil engineer, really had so many concerns he didn’t know where to begin. The problem is we have “engineers” on staff who just don’t have the engineering chops and have a lot of control and power.
    Will they take the input of the commissioners and make changes? Doubtful. Will the council bring some reason to this? Doubtful.

  9. 2015 Nov 05 Thursday 20:35 U (8:35 PM PT)

    Every resident in LO Comp Plan area needs to be aware that
    there are seven (7) sets of documents in play with respect to
    “Storm Water” (SW) management from about four levels of
    1. Federal – USEPA and US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
    2. State – OR DEQ, and others.
    3. Regional – Good friend Metro (aka City of Portland)
    4. Municipal – City of Lake Oswego.
    1. Fed: Clean Water Act and Clean Water Rule (CWR)
    CWR also referred to as Waters of the US (WOTUS)
    NPDES (Discharge permits) LO co-permittee
    with about nine others in Clackamas County.
    2. State – Have not figured out or identified yet.
    3. Regional – Metro Code Titles 3 and 13.
    4. Municipal (Lake Oswego)
    4.1 – 2015 TMDL Implementation Plan
    4.2 – 2009 (?) Clean Streams Plan
    4.3 – Tree Code
    4.4 – Sensitive Lands
    4.5 – Storm Water Manual

    To my knowledge not one LO document
    provides a diagram on how all the above
    fits together and works in concert with one
    another let alone the 2012 Clackamas County
    Wildfire Plan. (remember how dry it was)

    The Storm Water Manual edicts are SCARY.
    Because they are:
    1. Untested over time.
    2. Experimental technologies
    3. Absolve LO of Liabilities.
    Best live at the top of hills in LO Comp Plan area.
    Any where else – prepare to move least you are
    held accountable to USEPA for ponds and
    ditches on or near your property to the sum
    of $37,500 / day for any perceived violations
    of Clean Water Act / Waters of the US (CWR)

    Costs for compliance are unconstrained.
    See Joint meeting of LO Planning / DRC
    on 2015 Oct 26 Monday
    Time Mark (hour;min; sec) 01;21;50 circa
    Slide: House Keeping
    Listen for comments on Mercer Island WA
    Storm Water Rates @ $30 / month.
    Lake Oswego Engineering states LO
    Storm Water utility is underfunded at
    $12 / month.

    Let us eat cake.

    Skip Ormsby

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