Dear Shareholders and Easement Members,
We are looking forward to another great year on the lake in 2023. As promised in my previous message, the purpose of this email is to update you on our plans for the upcoming year. Areas of focus include budget, water quality, safety, events, etc. Please take the time to read it through. If any questions or comments arise, please reach out. We really want to hear from you.
2023 Operational Budget
As outlined in a previous email, following its annual review of Lake Oswego Corporation’s budget and expenses, the Board of Directors has approved a 3.5% increase in annual assessments and fees for 2023. The increase is directly linked to historic inflation over the past year, which has affected LOC operating expenses, including fuel, insurance, and repair and maintenance. The LOC staff has managed to control expense increases, which allows the Board to keep the annual increase well below the year-over-year increase in inflation.
The annual dues increase reflected on your current statement range from $80 to $141 per shareholder. Power boat fees will increase by approximately $41 and non-power boat/swim fees will increase by $7.
The LOC Board is committed to managing expenses carefully while ensuring that we are funding lake operations adequately, maintaining assets and equipment properly and maintaining appropriate reserves for dredging and long-range infrastructure programs.
The special assessment to fund legal fees for the current lawsuit will be $600 a year for the next two years for shareholders and a one-time assessment of $100 in 2023 only for easement members. These funds will go into a fund dedicated to legal expenses from the ongoing lake access litigation. As most of you know, this case has been ongoing for about ten years. While we have avoided the need for a special assessment for this purpose in the past, the Board felt it was necessary this year so that we remain in a position to responsibly fund the activities enumerated above. We will continue careful oversight and review of our legal expenses.
We appreciate your support as we work to protect and preserve the spectacular resource that we all share.
Here again is a brief history of the litigation and where we stand today:
The current litigation started in 2013 when two individuals sued the City of Lake Oswego and the State of Oregon over resolution 12-12. That ordinance codified existing park rules regarding lake access from the city parks abutting Lakewood Bay. The plaintiffs’ three claims were all dismissed on summary judgment. The dismissal was upheld by the Oregon Court of Appeals. The Oregon Supreme Court reviewed the decision and upheld the dismissal of two of the claims but sent the case back to the trial court to determine if Oswego Lake and Lakewood Bay are navigable for title.
The trial court agreed to separate the case into two trials. In phase I, the trial would only consider the navigability claim. If the court were to find for the plaintiffs on the navigability question, the second trial would examine the reasonableness of the City Ordinance. The phase I trial was held in March. In May, the assigned judge issued a ruling finding that the original Sucker Lake was navigable for title and that the lake-bed, as it existed at the time of statehood, is owned by the State. The court further ruled that even though the LOC owns the remainder of the lakebed and all of the banks, an access right remains, even in Lakewood Bay.
As we prepared for phase two of the trial (reasonableness of the city ordinance) our lawyers received discovery from the plaintiffs which disclosed for the first time that the plaintiffs had private meetings about the case with the assigned judge when she was serving as a state legislator. Our attorneys and the City’s attorneys filed motions to recuse the trial judge from the case on the ground that those contacts were not disclosed to us. Those motions were granted, and a new judge was assigned to the case. Almost immediately, our attorneys filed a motion to vacate the findings and conclusions from phase one of the trial. All hearings on that motion were postponed due to the fact that the plaintiffs petitioned the Oregon Supreme Court to intervene and reinstate the judge they had met with. The plaintiff’s petition was recently denied by the Supreme Court.
Our motion to vacate the earlier ruling was heard on December 19th. If our motion is successful, the issues from phase I and phase II likely will be litigated in a combined trial of about two weeks sometime in 2023. If it is not successful, the trial will continue with phase II. The Judge indicated that she expected to rule on our motion by the end of 2022 but there has been no ruling as of yet.
The next lake drawdown is scheduled for October of this year. The city is planning to replace the sewer trunk in Blue Heron Bay (south of the bridge) while the lake is down. This project is likely to force us to move the timing of the drawdown up two weeks from October 15th to October 1st. We will work with the city from planning through construction with the goal of providing efficiency to the process wherever we can to help ensure a successful outcome with minimal impact to normal lake activities. As part of this project, laterals in the bay are being replaced and cleanouts will be installed at the seawall. The project area is depicted in the image below. It is important to note that by agreement, the city can put us on notice to draw the lake down on their schedule. In this case, the contractors would probably prefer as early as Labor Day to ensure drier conditions, but city staff have chosen a collaborative approach and understand how difficult it would be to get boats off the lake by that date. As always, we appreciate their thoughtful outreach ahead of infrastructure projects.
If you are planning any waterfront construction projects during the drawdown, please make sure you have obtained the proper permits. If you live in the area where the project will be taking place, you will also need to coordinate with city engineers so that you don’t get in each other’s way. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the drawdown and/or the waterfront development process.
Our cyanobacteria population that has been holding on well into the winter has finally been taken over by diatoms. This is the normal cycle of phytoplankton in many lakes, where diatoms flourish in the cooler, low light conditions in winter, giving way to cyanobacteria when the water warms in summer. We usually see peak cyanobacteria in late August or early September, but last year the peak went to the end of September, maintaining very high concentrations until the weather shifted in October. Although the population was greatly reduced by the end of the year a surface accumulation persisted as diatoms started recovering.
As of January 18 Stephanodiscus niagarae made up nearly 99% of the phytoplankton at the Main Lake station in lake center, but there are still some lingering cyanobacteria colonies floating on the surface in the East Arm and a lesser amount in Half Moon Bay. Cyanobacteria will continue to die off and you may see blue or white patches as they decompose at the surface, but the concentration in the water is pretty low so these decaying patches should be small. We should not see cyanobacteria become dominant until June or July this year and should have a good spring as a result.
A large part of our cyanobacteria problems the past three years has been due to more phosphorus coming in from the Tualatin River during the summer phytoplankton growing season. Clean Water Services is testing a process to biologically remove phosphorus from their wastewater treatment plants so they can eliminate using alum in the final treatment step. This leaves more biologically active phosphorus in the river than previously, which when imported into Oswego Lake is immediately consumed by phytoplankton.
We installed a process at the headgate last year to capture this additional phosphorus (ironically, using alum), but it came online relatively late in the season. We also had a failure in our pump-back system so had to bring in more water than expected. The pump-back is repaired and will be started this spring, and the alum system will be operational as soon as the river is used. We will be testing extensively in the canal to gauge the efficacy of our alum capture and see if other improvements can be made to further reduce how much phosphorus we bring in.
Hopefully we have a cooler summer this year since warm water and ample sunshine accelerate our transition to cyanobacteria. A large concentration of cyanobacteria also makes our phosphorus reduction efforts less effective due to the resulting high pH conditions. We will continue to modify our treatments as current methods are challenged by climate change induced warming, requiring a dynamic approach to water quality maintenance.
The Lake Oswego Corporation has long had a requirement that we be named as additionally insured on your powerboat liability insurance policy. Please make sure we are listed on your policy prior to registering for 2023. We will not issue current stickers until insurance requirements are met. Safety is a primary concern to the LOC. With real estate sales and new home construction, the lake has been very busy with many new lake users, both powerboats and non-powered activities. We will continue with increased Patrol coverage in 2023 as we anticipate another busy season with an emphasis on the overlap between powered and non-powered activities, especially the restrictions on powerboat speeds within 100 feet of swimmers. While the Safety Committee has been focused on enforcement, they have also been working on enhancing the education of lake users. They have commissioned a series of safety training videos which will be posted on the website in the upcoming weeks. We encourage everyone in your household to watch these videos. We will also incorporate them into the written test licensing taken in our offices.
We are excited to announce this year’s summer concert dates.
July 4th – The fireworks will be staged mid-lake again this year. This worked well for people getting safely to and from the show last year. There are plans for a boat parade around mid-day and another concert prior to the fireworks. The secondary show, sponsored by Northwest Boat Sports, will be located away from the firework show location to help staff maintain the safety zone around the barge.
Hot August Night – Also Sponsored by Northwest Boat Sports, the concert will be held in the same location this year with the return of dock parking for the show. Our new dance floor was an improvement on past iterations and will be in use again as well.
Harnish Properties Pop-Up Concerts
There will be 5 pop-up concerts again this year:
· June 23rd
· July 7th
· July 21st
· August 18th
· September 1st
Stay tuned for more information.
As I mentioned at the beginning, we appreciate your questions and comments. Please reach out if there is anything we can do for you. Here’s to a great 2023!