Emma on the issues…

Elect Emma Burke

One of my biggest motivators to run for City Council came during the Public Policy tour in Washington, D.C. with Portland State University. Repeatedly, our Executive Master’s in Public Administration cohort was told to restore faith in government by engaging constituents at the local level. In addition to my passion for public policy, I was appointed to serve on the LOSD DEI Advisory Committee and the City’s DEI Task Force. I also serve on the Board of Directors for the Clackamas Women’s Services.

I’m the only candidate with kids in our public school system endorsed by LOSD School Board members. Many of our residents move to Lake Oswego for the schools, and I provide an opportunity to serve as conduit between those families and the larger municipal area. Some important issues currently include multiple bond measures voters will get to decide that impact school buildings, parks, transportation, and even affordable housing. I have many ideas for each of these issues, as well as others listed below:

The overall feedback I’ve received is that voters can stomach some, but perhaps not all, additional costs. Most palatable costs are the school bonds. Many new residents bring their families to LO for our public schools. Our quality education requires sufficient buildings. Investment in our schools have a close relationship to our home values. Secondary to school bonds seem to be the parks bonds up for renewal since parks improve our quality of life and neighborhood livability and also help retain/improve our housing values. Feedback on the Tri-Met and Metro bonds is that they don’t have the same return on investment perception since Tri-Met and Metro don’t seem to benefit our City as directly as other areas they serve. LO should balance our own financial requests with those of the rest of the region by being mindful of what matters to our residents and engaging them in the process.

One step Lake Oswego can take to improve transportation options for residents and commuters include implementing a carpool lane during heavy commute times as a low-cost way to reduce traffic congestion. Providing rain cover at bus stops is another way to decrease commuter congestion by promoting ridership on mass transit. Despite our rainy climate, Tri-Met provides minimal (if any) weather protection at bus stops. Lake Oswego would need to invest in the expense for additional shelter options. Increasing accessibility to bike lanes can also help. Having sufficient sidewalks also lead to more safety and livability in one’s neighborhood. Safe transportation options lead to higher quality of life and transferring some road maintenance dollars to other transportation projects like bus shelters, bike lanes and sidewalks makes sense.

With the median home price of $650,000, Lake Oswego has become unaffordable for middle-class families…as well as singles and seniors. I will work to solve this issue with cottage housing so that residents who have spent their lives investing in our community have the ability to remain and keep contributing to our City’s quality of life. In addition, I believe precedence for this housing should be given to school and city employees who bring so much value to Lake Oswego. Metro’s study about cottage housing in Wood Village calls it “a new model of clustered single family housing that provides a transition between single family housing neighborhoods and higher density areas, creating a development pattern that maximizes land values, reduces infrastructure costs and provides housing next to services…[I]t’s ideal for retirees wanting to downsize but remain in a single family neighborhood, as well as for small families and single parent households desiring homeownership.”

In the candidate forum for the Chamber of Commerce, I suggested partnering with valet parking services to ease parking lot congestion during peak times in the Lake Grove business district rather than spend lots of money on a new parking structure that would only be used minimally. I cited Premiere Valet’s partial client list that already includes Jefe, La Provence and Zupan’s (each already in the Lake Grove business district) as viable options that would also create local jobs. Shopping areas like Bridgeport Mall utilize them to success, and Lake Grove could benefit in a similar fashion.

I don’t believe Lake Oswego needs to speed up the process anymore than their current proposal of a potential May 2019 vote to residents in the unincorporated areas if information show it’s in the City’s fiscal interest to annex residents in the unincorporated areas into the City of Lake Oswego. Without knowing if it’s financially responsible for the City to do so, I feel it’s premature to make a decision. As soon as we have good information, I look forward to moving our community forward. Regardless of the outcome, we are neighbors. Some unincorporated residents currently even serve on City committees, despite not being City residents. If elected, I’ll take office in January when a communication outreach program will occur if it’s determined to be in the City’s best interest to potentially annex these residents from the unincorporated areas and I look forward to engaging the community in this process.

Currently, Lake Oswego’s only government-appointment Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee is operating to advise the LOSD School Board. As the only candidate for City Council to be appointed to the DEI advisory committee, I’m given a unique opportunity to serve as a conduit between our public schools and our larger municipal community. When applicants were sought for this committee, 91 qualified community leaders turned in submissions and I feel especially honored to be among the group of 22 chosen for our passion of promoting equality on a range of diversity issues including: racial, gender identity & preference, socio-economic status, and varied abilities. As your City Councilor, I’ll bring the DEI advisory committee’s best practices so the community will be more unified and ALL our residents will benefit. Multiple studies prove diversity initiatives promote everyone’s success and I will work hard to eliminate any exclusive behavior among City staff and elected officials.

AirBNB and other Short-Term Rental (STR) platforms are already operating (illegally) in Lake Oswego. Enforcing current laws that prohibit them aren’t good use of City resources, so I believe they should continue to operate in Lake Oswego, but with rules and restrictions in place, including:

  1. The owner obtains a business license in order to operate.
  2. The owner/operator pays applicable lodging taxes.
  3. The owner/operator adheres to neighborhood codes of conduct.
  4. The owner/operator pays associated fines if found liable for breaking their agreement(s).
  5. If major (and/or repeated) offenses occur, the owner/operator can lose their business license.

Of course, the City should ensure that the imposed fines structure pays for the cost to enforce violations of operating standards. The fines structure should be amended if it fails to generate the funds required to enforce violators.

I believe that residents need to have the opportunity to publicly weigh in on potential options if the North Anchor project falls through because the last time was three years ago and more fresh ideas will be generated. On the Chamber of Commerce candidate forum, LO Review wrote: “Burke placed a strong emphasis on citizen involvement in her answers; when discussing the possibility of a revised North Anchor project, she suggested that a new round of public outreach should be conducted because of the amount of time that has passed since the previous version was developed. “If it does fall through, it’s time to give new residents and the community another chance to give input,” she said. She also discussed her role on the Lake Oswego School District’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion advisory committee, and said she wanted to serve as a conduit for younger parents to become involved in Lake Oswego’s government, hopefully spurring a level of involvement closer to the level seen in the LOSD.”