Feb 16, 2006
You CAN and SHOULD fight City Hall
Tuesday night, several citizens scorched the City Council with criticism of changes we recently made to the Troutdale Development Code. Citizens complained about the new maximum height of 45 feet we approved for a short piece of the central business district. The old minimum was 35 feet.
I have to admit, ever since we voted to increase this at the last City Council meeting, I have had grave doubts about the wisdom of the new 45 foot height. Why? Because with a variance, a building in downtown Troutdale could be almost 60 feet high. That's a little too tall. That would definitely be REALLY too tall for Troutdale. We have Beaver Creek canyon already. We don't need an artificial 60 foot high canyon in downtown Troutdale.
The other citizen complaint was our approval of 16 foot minimum widths for rowhouses within the Central Business District. One citizen testified he was loaded for bear, and was ready to file Measure 37 claims, lawsuits, the works, unless the City Council reconsidered the changes.
His reasons: ( I'm going to exaggerate the emotional rhetoric of the evening for effect, but you'll get the general picture of the hostility and anger that was expressed )- ALL the new townhouses/rowhouses are or will be filled with renters, which are bad, bad, bad. These 45 foot tall, 16 foot townhouses will also cause crime, and children will have no place to play but in the streets. ALL of Troutdale, not just the Central Business District, will soon be filled with criminals and evil renters living in 16 foot wide townhouses. Oh, and by the way, the greedy developers who want to build these 16 foot wide portals of evil, only want to cash out their huge profits and then move on.
Ok I exaggerated a lot. Over the top. But I think the reason this guy and others who testified were so angry and upset was because the City Council made a HUGE mistake in passing the minimum height change and the 16 foot minimum width change without a fuller public involvement process. We discussed these items at one meeting at the request of developers who are actually interested in purchasing the hole in downtown Troutdale known as the Marino block.
The changes were only two of dozens of changes we made that night to the Troutdale Development Code. All of the other changes were vetted through the the normal process- Citizen Advisory Committee meetings, public hearings, etc.
As motivated as the City Council was in giving some flexibility to the developers, we made an error in not insisting on the standard citizen review process for the new height and width changes. So thank you, angry citizens, for showing us the error of our ways. You deserved to be angry. I mean it. We screwed up in our haste to get something going on the burned out Marino property.
The City Council voted to reconsider these items and referred them back to city staff and the Citizens Advisory Committee.
Can't fight city hall? Don't believe it for a minute. In Troutdale, you CAN and should fight city hall if you disagree with a city policy.