Protect LO Parks - Save Cooks Butte

Lake Oswego citizens have a strong interest in protecting and expanding those elements that contribute to the natural, cultural and aesthetic health of our community.  To many residents and visitors, Lake Oswego is known as a “village in a park,” a place of physical beauty and respite from expanding regional urbanization. Lake Oswego has an extensive tree canopy as a result of investment by the community in its natural parks and open spaces.

Join me in an effort to:

(a) Save Lake Oswego's Cooks Butte natural park from the construction of a massive 196.5-foot tall telecommunications tower, and

(b) Introduce a ballot initiative in 2020 for the community to vote on a revision to the Lake Oswego City Charter's Park Development Limitations that prevents any future development in our natural parks and open spaces.

Cooks Butte was deeded by John and Marjorie Emery to the City in 1975. They wished to keep this land in its natural state, in perpetuity, for the people of Lake Oswego. The Emery’s understood there would be a desire to develop this land; they purposely sought to preserve this 42-acre natural park for future generations enjoyment of the abundant wildlife, plant life, and serenity of nature. The Emery’s deeded the park to the City for a small fraction of its true market value; fully understanding its significant future valuation. In return, the City agreed to preserve its natural habitat and never develop this land.

A rock lay in Cooks Butte's meadow that reads:

"Much of the land 
for this park was a gift to the
local community by two people who lived
next to it for 48 years. 

They wished this forest and meadow
to remain forever wild.

A meeting place for human
and non-human,
a place to re-enter the world
beyond our human habits."

However, the City has been disingenuous over the last 25 years in a desire to construct telecommunication towers multiple times in this natural park:

In 1994, the City and GTE desired to construct a 60-foot cellular tower in Cooks Butte. The community became outraged and Marjorie Emery submitted an affidavit reiterating the intended use of this land and that a telecommunications tower would violate the agreement. The tower was stopped.

In 2002, the City and Clackmas 800 Radio Group (C800) desired to construct 150-foot emergency telecommunications tower. Once again, the community became outraged and the Emery family reiterated once again that telecommunications towers were not compatible with the intended use then nor in the future. The tower was stopped.

Now, in 2019, the City and Clackmas 800 Radio Group (C800) desire to construct 196.5-foot emergency telecommunications tower. We have learned the City and C800 have been working quietly for years without community awareness. We only learned of this major development on August 29, 2019 when less than 125 residents received a plain white, non-descriptive envelop that looked like junk mail with a notice explaining the proposed development.

In the last 8 weeks, the community has mobilized, developed an awareness campaign, obtained over 870 petition signatures in opposition, and uncovered shocking details on the City's multiple years of involvement with C800 unknown to the community.

We believe the City has a conflict of interest that biases its decision making ability:

   (1) The City has been working with C800 for years on this proposal
   (2) The City is the land owner
   (3) The City is a member of C800
   (4) The City is the land use decision maker

The City has set up this major development with C800 in a manner that prevents citizens from approaching our elected officials and discussing our displeasure and concerns.  We were denied corresponding with City Counselors AND we were denied speaking at the public City Council meeting. The City claims their role as a quasi-judicial body in the land use process prevents them from speaking public with the community. Nonetheless, the City has been working directly with C800 for years on this proposal to erect a 196.5-foot telecommunications tower in a natural area and sensitive land, Cooks Butte. We will be unable to speak with our elected representatives, the Mayor and Counselors, until the land use process is finalized -- this could be years since we plan to appeal at every step of the way!!

We have been published in the newspaper, the Parks, Recreation, and Natural Resource Advisory Board unanimously vote in opposition to a tower in Cooks Butte, our neighborhood association's General Membership overwhelmingly voted on a motion directing the association's board to develop a statement of opposition and opposition testimony in the land use process, and we are meeting with other neighborhood associations and organizations to work on a comprehensive strategy to defeat this major development in our natural park.

We have established the website to document our findings and keep the community informed and updated.

About Me
I'm a husband and father.  I'm an entrepreneur, software architect, and data scientist. I make decisions based on data and facts.  I expect people and government to be transparent and honor their agreements, contracts, and obligations. 

I love spending time in nature with family and friends. My family fell in love instantly with Lake Oswego's friendly cultural, commitment to education and the environment, and park-like setting only minutes away from the over developed urban regions surrounding it. This is a unique place where generations before us had the wisdom, foresight, and generosity to protect these natural areas for future generations to enjoy in their natural states.

Your help is needed!
Many residents have provided financial assistance to offset expenses (over $5800 spent prior to this campaign) being incurred as part of our awareness campaign. We have established our web site, setup social media channels and distribution lists, distributed over 150 yard signs, distributed 1000s of informative flyers, run newspaper advertisements, and are hosting an open house information meeting for the community. 

Expenses continue to grow... We are seeking public records requests (~$1600), legal advice, retain legal counsel ($350/hr), expert witness testimony, additional marketing resources, and allies in protecting our natural areas to defeat this proposal. We expect C800 to submit their land use application to the planning department any day now. Time is of the essence in preparing our opposition testimony for this steep, uphill battle. But, it is not impossible if we unite! 

That's not all...we are going to prevent this from happening ever again in our natural parks! We are launching our Love LO Parks petition for a ballot initiative that will revise the Park Development Limitations Chapter in the Lake Oswego Charter limiting development to only that which is consistent with a natural area. This will require additional legal advice and marketing to secure ~4800 petition signatures by February 1, 2020, in time for the May 2020 ballot. 

We have established the website to inform the community on this important natural area protection to our City Charter.

Your financial support goes entirely toward Saving Cooks Butte and Protecting LO Natural Parks. No contribution is too small. Be apart of the community that respects our environment and respects the wishes of those whom have bestowed these remarkable gifts open space upon us.

Bottom line...If the City of Lake Oswego is not going to protect our natural area parks, then WE need to protect them!!! Allowing development in Lake Oswego's most cherished natural areas sets a bad precedent. Once we go down this path, Lake Oswego's character, charms, and community will be forever altered.

Thank you.

Donations (30)

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  • allan conant
    • $500 
    • 4 yrs
  • Daniel O'Connell
    • $100 
    • 4 yrs
  • Al Hansen
    • $500 
    • 4 yrs
  • Stephanie Detjens
    • $50 
    • 4 yrs
  • Allison Fryer
    • $500 
    • 4 yrs
See all


Scott Handley
Lake Oswego, OR

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