Originally posted on Pamplin Media on July 13th, 2020
Monday, July 13, 2020
Mayoral candidate and current Lake Oswego City Councilor Theresa Kohlhoff has expressed that public transportation infrastructure and access, affordable housing, inclusion and climate change are examples of important issues to her.
And July 12, she decided to have a conversation with the community about her vision and plans for Lake Oswego.
During a virtual town hall event Sunday afternoon, Kohlhoff spent an hour answering questions posed by community members.
Questions covered a variety of topics including diversity, equity and inclusion, the preservation of trees and affordable housing.
Community members were curious what Kohlhoff's plans were for protecting Lake Oswego's large trees like Douglas firs and how she planned to build consensus concerning preservation of mature trees.
"As it relates to trees, I will be a champion," Kohlhoff said. "I think that people have been aware of the loss of the big trees and I think they have balanced as best they thought they could with other issues such as parking or economic development or something else."
Kohlhoff said the environment should be a priority and removing trees "is part of an old way of looking at the world."
She said a Douglas fir can live about 1,200 years so when one is removed it cannot be replaced in our lifetime.
"There's no remediation; there's no replacement; there's nothing whatsoever but a loss," Kohlhoff said.
Deren Ash asked Kohlhoff what she plans on doing to increase racial equity in the city. Other people were curious about the formation of a committee of people with disabilities who could discuss issues they've experienced in the city and asked how Kohlhoff sees the city increasing diversity on boards, commissions and the City Council.
Kohlhoff talked about the current work that is being explored through the end of the year by the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force, which is looking at how to increase minority participation by diversifying people on the city's boards, commissions and committees, and also exploring how to reduce barriers for people applying for jobs at the city.
She said the task force is made up of diverse people — people with disabilities included. She said the city is also working on a website where a person can file a complaint about an ADA violation or barrier issue.
Kohlhoff said in addition to the DEI Task Force's work, the council is in the process of figuring out how to have conversations with focus groups to discuss residents' experiences with the Lake Oswego Police Department.
"We are in the process of putting that piece together and we've had some training, even here recently, as we were trying to get the boards and commissions selected," Kohlhoff said.
Dave Beckett said that after the Oregon Legislature passed House Bills 2001 and 2003 relating to affordable housing last year, he wondered how Kohlhoff thought the city should proceed to accommodate that law.
Kohlhoff said HB 2001 related to supply and that increasing supply will work out well once people understand it won't happen overnight. She said a chunk of the city's population is rent burdened and that some people who currently reside in Lake Oswego have issues with affording to stay in their homes. She said the cost of land is one issue for not creating much affordable housing in the city.
One area for affordable housing that is her personal favorite, she said, is land the city owns where the Boones Ferry Road mobilization lot is located.
"We have to, in the short-run, get it rezoned but that's a perfect place for affordable housing," she said.
Kohlhoff plans to host a virtual town hall via Zoom every month through November. The next town hall is Aug. 30 at 3 p.m. Visit Kohlhoff's website for more information.
Posted on 22 Jul 2020, 17:41 - Category: Articles