Lake Oswego: A streetcar named undesirable

by NW Spotlight

First hand account of meetings the last two weeks on the Lake Oswego streetcar

The Lake Oswego Mayor Jack Hoffman’s law firm represents Gerding-Edlen, Dike Dames and the Streetcar manufacturing company, among other benefactors and beneficiaries of this racket. He declared the “potential” conflict of interest last week and it was raised again by Councilor Kehoe last night just prior to Mayor Hoffman making the deciding vote.

Councilor Bill Tierney works for PGE, whose biggest clients may be the streetcar and light rail operators.

It was a heated at times, adversarial debate prior to the vote.

The three councilors who are opposed had done much due diligence and thoroughly dismantled every element of the plan.

The high cost, lack of funding, other higher priority needs and projects, the environmental aspects, the ODOT reported declining traffic and no demonstrated congestion problem to the many problems of paying for and crowding high density-8 story buildings into the Foothills was made crystal clear.

The proponents avoided such study and instead parroted the usual mantras heard during every prior rail transit/development scheme while also insulting the public at large who are opposed to the entire plan.

Repeatedly the proponents lectured that the public doesn’t have an adequate understanding and that we need to provide our children with livable & walkable communities.

It was exceedingly obvious that Jordon, Moncrieff, Tierney, and Hoffman had not studied the issues, had done no homework and were deliberately attempting to marginalize everything that exposed the empty rhetoric they were using.

Neither the Streetcar nor the Foothills high density are wanted, funded or affordable. There is no future funding source for any of it including the operation of the Streetcar once it is built. Quite the contrary, Gudman pointed out the city has a lengthy list of needed projects that already far exceed projected revenues. He asked the proponents “which of these projects are you intending on sacrificing for the Streetcar and Foothills?”

Hoffman declared that was a false choice and Jordon said, “We always find a way to fund things”.

Gudman pointed out that all of the other projects would be sacrificed.

The proponent councilors were dishonest and dismissive of every fatal flaw no matter how crystal clear they were demonstrated.

At one point after Gudman presented the ODOT numbers that showed traffic had declined in recent years and that congestion was not a problem in need of a streetcar remedy, Donna Jordon fessed up that she “did not know if congestion was or will be a problem” but declared that “the streetcar allows them to get out in front of it”. That’s the kind of substance proponents provided.

If this current step in the process proceeds, the region plans on spending another $25 million on more planning with the proponents claiming it is needed to better know what is being decided. Only then will they and the public understand what is at stake. Only then will the decision be made to proceed or not.

Make no mistake about it, these four proponents (Sam Adams all) are Kool-Aid drinkers who have and will line up behind every single cockamamie stunt and their vote last night was to push it forward.

The conflicts of interest, dishonesty and reckless behavior have finally ignited the long needed battle. It was very encouraging and real progress to see three honest and responsible councilors take off the gloves and battle them in such a public manner.

Removing the other four from office and a petition to require the public vote they disallowed last night should be moving quickly forward.

 

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Public Transportation | 23 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Ron Swaren

    In the 1970’s our area faced an authentic choice as how to maintain the livability of our neighborhoods and the value of city. True, freeways lost out to mass transit but it is more complex than that. Other losers were construction unions and DOTs and perhaps developers who were expecting to capitalize on new freeway routes. Winners were homeowners who preserved value in their homes and localized retailers. Had the Robert Moses plan for Portland gone ahead, we would have a checkerboard pattern of development with a below grade freeways criscrossing about every two miles. If you would enjoy living in proximity to the I-5 maybe you would like that, but most people don’t.

    However, I am baffled at how quickly and dramatically the costs for rail based mass transit have risen. Even though the Gresham MAX line was complete at $15 million per mile, they are now seriously discussing projects at 15 times that amount. I know our wages have not risen nearly that much. So at first it seemed like Streetcar might be a much less costly alternative to MAX, and it tends to spur a lot more development. Now it looks like the costs are soaring on that too. Since the Westshore ROW has already been purchased what is the big expense on a LO Streetcar now? These people always seem to find some added way to spend money.

    Then there is the Sellwood Bridge too—costing 3 or 4 times what it should, just to rebuild it. Save that money and put a new bridge in at Foothills Dr. to the Oak Grove area where it is actually needed.

  • Conservatively Speaking

    Rose City Transit couldn’t make the Oregon City to Portland Interurban rail transit pencil out, so why should another more than half fastidious rail route from LO to Potland make any kind of sustainable difference?

    Folks, throw the PAC’d w’specious interests out and elect sum common sense, once and for all.

    Period!

  • Joe

    With high gas prices the criminals need a cost effective way to come and go in Lake O.
    This will help a lot.

  • Rob DeHarpport

    Someone should file a complaint with the Oregon Ethics Commission ASAP, the Government Standards and Practices Official Guide to Ethics is quite clear in defining actual conflicts of interest and potential conflicts of interest. On page three- It states; A potential conflict of interest arises when a public official takes official action that could financially impact the public official, the officials relatives, or a business with which the public official or a relative is associated”.
    It goes on to say that in the case of a “Potential Conflict” of interest the official may take action only after declaring the potential conflict. In the case of a potential conflict of interest the guide recommends consulting with the Oregon Government Standards and Practices Commision. Then on the top of page six it states; “Caution is always the best approach” and – “it is always best to refrain from doubtful activities.”
    Even the appearance of a conflict of interest further erodes the public trust of government and our elected officials. I would think that the Mayor should have abstained from the vote. Thoughts??

    • Bubba

      What good does it do now to think he should have abstained? His ethics are so shallow he did not and I do not know how you would change the vote? Kick him and his ilk out at the next election. I think LO is a lost cause, gone the way of Portland. Good Luck

  • Valley person

    No demonstrated congestion problem? I suspect the writer here has never driven Macadam Avenue between Portland and Lake Oswego. Its a parking lot for much of the day, and due to the very steep hill slope on one side and river on the other, there is no chance for widening. If there were ever a case where a rail line makes sense, this is probably it given the existing tracks and right of way are already in place.

    I suspect any “traffic decline” is recession related, which due to far fewer people with jobs to go to resulted in traffic declines pretty much everywhere. unless we have a permanent recession, that decline is temporary.

    • Bite It Loser Boy!

      You are full of crap! I have driven that route numerous times; and except for a short period of time during commute hours, it’s easy to get from Portland to Lake Oswego (and vice versa) most of the day.

  • EHS

    Valley Person,

    Your ignorance is surpassed only by your delusion that you know what you are talking about.
    I’d like to buy you for what you know and sell you for what you pretend to know.

    You are so full of crap.

    Macadam is only the short section North of the sellwood bridge to SoWa and it is not a parking lot anyway. It will be with the streetcar and traffic signal that will be added at the west end of the new insane Sellwood bridge plan.

    The ODOT declining traffic numbers were for Hyw 43 and from well before the recession.

    The streetcar will screw up Macadam, cause a mess at the new Sellwood bridge intersection and not reduce congestion at all.
    You’re a fool (dishonest) if you think the streetcar is a way to address congestion.

    43 to Lake Oswego is not a congestion problem and cliff-river BS is a red herring.

    The LO streetcar will be worse tha WES in every way.

    And the right of way is less adequate than the WES ROF and will need huge changes.

    Your were probably one of the WES – then commuter rail- proponents who parroted that it would be good deal becasue it would be on an existing rail line. Every single rail, tie and ballast had to be replaces for WES along with additional spurs added. The entire deal sucked at the time and was only built because of a waived FTA guidelines.

    Over and over again TriMet said the commuter rail was “designed to reduce congestion on I-5 and 217”. You probably parrote that lie too.
    That’s what you do.

    • Valley person

      OK…fine…Macadam and its other name as Highway 43. Its a parking lot north of the Sellwood Bridge every weekday and has been that way since I lived in Sellwood in the 1980s.

      I do not know if the streetcar is the best answer. I don’t pretend to know. I do know that the options there are very limited and absent using the rail line already owned by the public, that place will stay congested and get worse in the years ahead.

      You think there is no cliff and no river? Have you ever even been there?

      Now you can try to think up more creative names to call me.

  • Bob T

    Ron Swaren: “Had the Robert Moses plan for Portland gone ahead, we would have a checkerboard pattern of development with a below grade freeways criscrossing about every two miles.”

    I really doubt that. For one thing (a very major thing), the population for such a pattern or grid of freeways did not exist then; did not exist for many years; does not yet exist.

    Bob Tiernan
    NE Portland

  • Bob T

    Ron Swaren: “Had the Robert Moses plan for Portland gone ahead, we would have a checkerboard pattern of development with a below grade freeways criscrossing about every two miles.”

    I really doubt that. For one thing (a very major thing), the population for such a pattern or grid of freeways did not exist then; did not exist for many years; does not yet exist.

    Bob Tiernan
    NE Portland

  • Bob T

    VP: “No demonstrated congestion problem? I suspect the writer here has never driven Macadam Avenue between Portland and Lake Oswego”.

    Even if that were true, do you really believe a streetcar line (or even MAX!) would
    solve that?

    Besides, if I worked somewhere in the John’s Landing or SW Portland area and lived
    in Lake O’s east side, I’d still prefer to take I-5, or Boone’s Ferry, or Terwilliger. I’d mix it up. Quit complaining about something that can’t possibly bother you at all.

    Bob Tiernan
    NE Portland

    • Valley person

      I never claimed it would solve the congestion problem. It would provide an alternative for those who prefer to not be stuck in traffic. A bus stuck in traffic is not much better than a car stuck in traffic. Arguably worse.

      Who is complaining? I’m pointing out a rationale for the project from a transportation standpoint as one who used to use that route a lot. If those who use Highway 43 prefer to stay stuck in traffic, then fine. If I lived or worked near the river between Lake O and downtown Portland, including John’s Landing (where I did once live and work) I would favor the streetcar option. I like having transportation options.

      • Conservatively Speaking

        …even options that don’t pencil out! VP, obviously not a con$ervative. Pity!

        • Valley person

          Sure, but then what does “pencil out” in this case? Continued gridlock costs people time and money. Road widening is not physically possible. Buses are cheaper but are stuck in the same traffic. That leaves a streetcar by default. People riding it can get work done while on it or enjoy the view of the river. People who don’t want to ride it don’t have to. Free choice.

          • Conservatively Speaking

            Oy vey! A half billion dollar oxymoron “Free Choice” street car line may seem as chump change in purview with VP’s progressive IDeologues – yet, compounded with greater ‘principal’ CONvolutions bestting US – michaelmoore likely, it’s his caboose that is pulling the engine.

            ‘Fare’ warning, please be advised: http://www.youtube.com/embed/VtVbUmcQSuk

  • Bob T

    VP: “Continued gridlock costs people time and money.”

    Bob T: What’s this project to you if you’re not complaining, and you
    don’t live here?

    VP: “Buses are cheaper but are stuck in the same traffic.”

    Bob T: That’s a chuckle. If a bus is an option then in theory every 15 minutes (each way) a busload of people can take one and not put their cars on that road. Or are
    you saying that Tri-Met has been lying all these years about buses (or trains) taking
    cars off the road?

    VP: “People riding it can get work done while on it or enjoy the view of the river.

    Bob T: That’s an expensive way to get a view of the river.

    VP: “People who don’t want to ride it don’t have to. Free choice.”

    Bob T: Not a free choice. Auto users pay lots of money in gas taxes to pay for their roads (and for rail, too!), plus the cost of their cars and the upkeep (willingly), while rail users (and even bus users) get away with paying for just a small fraction of the cost of their rides. The choice is not supposed to be “free” anymore than the auto users’ choice to drive should be “free”.

    Bob Tiernan
    NE Portland

    • Valley person

      I’m commenting. I am neither complaining, nor am I endorsing. I am saying, if not rail then what? There do not appear to be any other options that work.

      A bus stuck in traffic is not much better an option than being stuck in one’s car in traffic. This doesn’t negate Trimets claim about how many cars a busload of people keep off the road. But if the road is jammed anyway, who cares? Its jammed for every mode.

      Yes, a streetcar would be expensive. We have established that. Doing nothing is far cheaper if you discount the cost to the individuals and businesses stuck in traffic. Cheaper is not necessarily better. Letting our entire transportation system fall apart would be very cheap and very dumb.

      Riding the train or driving would be a free choice if there were a train to choose, which presently there isn’t. Choosing to build a train or not is a political choice about allocation of public resources. If you think gas taxes should not be used for anything other than roads, then elect politicians who agree with you. Its a free country Bob. Yes, suppose bus and rail riders “get away” with paying far less for transport compared with people who choose expensive cars, but nothing prevents the car owners from making a transit choice as well except where transit is unavailable.

      “Free choice” does not mean free of charge. It means one has the freedom to choose. I think you can figure out that much without my help.

      • Conservatively Speaking

        Free Choice also embraces not paying a ‘fare’ opportunity.

        VP, go back to your ruminations and reset that loose chip in your microprocessor!

  • Bob T

    VP: “A bus stuck in traffic is not much better an option than being stuck in one’s car in traffic. This doesn’t negate Trimets claim about how many cars a busload of people keep off the road.”

    Bob T: Again, more buses (five minute frequency perhaps, at rush periods) ought
    to get a load of cars off 43 as well as I-5, Boone’s Ferry, and Terwilliger. That is,
    unless Tri-Met’s claim is a total fabrication. Which is it?

    VP: “Yes, suppose bus and rail riders ‘get away’ with paying far less for transport compared with people who choose expensive cars, but nothing prevents the car owners from making a transit choice as well except where transit is unavailable.”

    Bob T: Again, when will transit users pay more? Fact is, they’ll probably go back to cars if they have to pay more than the puny share they pay already because the service may barely equal the present fares. So the auto users get stuck paying for nearly everything. Yet they get trashed at every turn.

    VP: ” ‘Free choice’ does not mean free of charge. It means one has the freedom to choose. I think you can figure out that much without my help.”

    Bob T: Heck, we can use taxpayer dollars to provide stretch-limo service for all commuters and that would be a “choice” as well. But we don’t provide that because it’s stupid and a waste of money, and so are the various streetcar and MAX lines. It’s a hell of a lot of money for the benefit of a very tiny percentage of all commuters.

    Bob Tiernan
    Portland

    • Valley person

      Back to the beginning. Lake Oswego to Portland along the river. Discuss! There are limited options, and the cheaper ones appear to solve nothing. The more expensive train option provides a new alternative. Spending the same money on wider roads in this case is a non starter since there is no way to widen the existing road. If you are against something, fine. What is your practical alternative?

      Me, I like the idea of water buses. Not sure if this was considered, but could be very cheap infrastructure and fun to use. Then the trolly line could be converted to a bike trail. Win-win.

  • eaop

    Hey, how about 2 and 4 wheel electric thingamajigs ‘buy’ and large produced by Segway?

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