Council’s Wizer Block decision ignores the concerns of so many

Created on Thursday, 02 October 2014 01:00 | Written by Mary Ann Dougherty

Our mayor and four city councilors have overruled our Development Review Commission (a commission comprised of qualified professionals), and instead have given developer Patrick Kessi’s Wizer Block proposal the green light. Only councilors Karen Bowerman and Lauren Hughes upheld our DRC’s decision to deny the development.

Councilor Bowerman expressed concerns about traffic and parking problems around the bottlenecked block, the development’s monolithic buildings and the small amount of retail. Most retail will be for apartment residents’ private use — a private library, media room, gym and courtyard. (City code deems this commercial/retail.) A pittance of retail will be left for the public.

The Saturday before the Council’s hearing on the Wizer Block, I handed out flyers and talked with people about the development. I was astonished that people believed the development will bring needed retail and affordable housing. This attests to the extensive, disingenuous public relations campaign by Kessi. Those misinformed and misled by Kessi will be shocked to see his exclusionary development with very expensive rents.

Others I spoke with believed the Kessi development will provide generous parking. Won’t they be shocked to find street parking all around the Wizer Block will be private, for tenants only, and that only 268 parking spaces will be provided for the 500 new residents (and their guests) expected by proponents of this development.

Evergreen Road and neighborhood, as well as Lake View Village, will be inundated with cars as people search for parking. City code deems this adequate, and the code needs changing.

On Saturday, I also talked with several out-of-state visitors, some from as far away as New York City. All were happy to be going to a farmers market in beautiful Millennium Park. They’ll be disappointed next time when the farmers market has moved, due to Kessi’s development. Do you think they’ll come back to our downtown, to sit outside Zeppo’s in the large shadow of Kessi’s 58-foot-tall apartments?

Our mayor and four city councilors have chosen to ignore the concerns of so many of us who support our DRC’s decision. They’ve sold us out and handed $6 million of our tax dollars to Patrick Kessi and his investors, who will make a lot of money on this deal while they destroy the character of downtown and beauty of Millennium Park.

In August, DRC Commissioner David Poulson, before casting his minority vote in favor of the Kessi plan, gave a rather long, bloated speech about liberty and his duty to protect Mr. Kessi’s right to build the kind of development he wants. But what about the rights of citizens who want safe streets, not streets that will be blocked by the cars of new apartment tenants who have not been provided with adequate parking, and not streets that will be sped through by people impatient to get on or off a gridlocked A Avenue. What about the rights of those who will lose access to Millennium Park and nearby businesses due to crowds and a lack of parking?

It seems to me Commissioner Poulson believes that the rights of Mr. Kessi and his investors are far more worthy of protection than the rights of the rest of us. And I guess Mayor Studebaker and councilors Gudman, Gustafson, Jordan and O’Neill believe the same.

Mary Ann Dougherty is a Lake Oswego resident.

Article originally posted with the Lake Review @ http://www.pamplinmedia.com/lor/49-opinion/235576-100257-councils-wizer-block-decision-ignores-the-concerns-of-so-many

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