A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Council deadlocks on ADUs and boards

Written January 9th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

Taking their ceremonial oath of office from City Clerk Mary Dibble Wednesday, from left are Albany Councilors Alex Johnson II, Bessie Johnson, Dick Olsen, and Mayor Sharon Konopa.

All was sweetness and light at the opening of the first regular meeting of the Albany City Council Wednesday. But it didn’t last as the mayor and councilors argued again about accessory dwelling units and also disagreed on who should appoint city advisory commissions and boards.

At the start, a full house of family and supporters watched Alex Johnson II take over the council seat in Ward 2A from Ray Kopczynski, who didn’t seek re-election and wished his successor good luck. He also left him a note that said, in Latin, “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

Also taking their oaths, after being re-elected last fall, were Mayor Sharon Konopa and Councilors Dick Olsen and Bessie Johnson

On accessory dwelling units, Konopa offered what she called a compromise that would allow ADUs on all single-family lots, as the state demands, but keep the current size limit of 750 feet. She would also keep existing requirements on off-street parking and owner occupancy of one of the two units on a lot.

How’s that a compromise, Councilman Rich Kellum wanted to know, since the mayor had taken that position before. Kellum and three other council members had previously voted for up to 900 square feet, no parking requirements, and dropping the ownership regulation. But the mayor vetoed that code change and on Wednesday again declared her opposition. She thinks what the majority wants could destroy Albany’s traditional single-family neighborhoods.

Councilors did agree with the mayor’s suggestion to call a public hearing on the issue in two weeks, which actually will be a continuation of a hearing some time ago. After that, who knows?

Konopa ran into a wall when she brought up an agenda item calling for the ratification of appointments to about a dozen city commissions and advisory boards. About half of those boards are appointed solely by the mayor.

Dick Olsen backed the mayor, but the others, with Kellum and Bessie Johnson voicing this most strongly, want council members to make individual appointments to all the boards, especially the Landmarks Advisory Commission, which was mentioned several times.

Kellum and Bessie Johnson believe Landmarks is dominated by appointees who, as committed preservationists, put unnecessary, costly, and time-consuming demands on property owners wanting to make exterior changes to their properties deemed to be of historic interest.

On Wednesday, the discussion got a little testy at times but eventually petered out with the idea that in a couple of weeks, or some time, maybe, the question of who appoints commissions will be discussed at a work session. In the meantime, the various pending appointments are, well, pending. (hh)

Ray Kopczynski hands over his council seat to newly elected Alex Johnson, right, as City Manager Peter Troedsson watches.







19 responses to “Council deadlocks on ADUs and boards”

  1. Robert Chandler says:

    Just a clarification, who are the bastards?

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Well, Ray’s little note certainly illustrates his long standing contempt for Albany citizens.

    His snarky attitude was on full display several years ago when he opposed changing the city Charter to have Albany citizens (not the Council) be the final voice on decisions that create future urban renewal districts and city debt.

    There is an old saying that is apropos: “addition by subtraction.” This happens when one person in a group leaves and the group as a whole becomes better.

    Enjoy your retirement, Ray.

    One of the Bastards

    • Hasso Hering says:

      The phrase in dog Latin is “illegitimi non carborundum.” It’s meant in jest, obviously. No reason to get all huffy about it.

      • Ray Kopczynski says:

        Correct, but if Gordon abides being one of them – it speaks volumes. Hey – If the shoe fits…

      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        Ray meant it in jest? Here is another bit of Latin for you – “Bovis stercus”

        Said with a smile on my face, of course.

        • David Abarr says:

          The same troll comments here week after week. Does the council understand Landmarks follows Department of the Interior standards for historic preservation? I received a huge binder when I was appointed. It’s all in there. My opinion never enters into the decision in making other than following these standards. Staff does a great job determining how to proceed with each instance. There are a ton of instances of owners not following the process for a national historic district. I applaud those owners who understand the process. For the town with the second largest historic inventory in the state the lack of knowledge particularly on the council is alarming. I think a lot has to do with this idea of governing by disruption so popular today.

        • David Abarr says:

          Ray’s demeanor is amazing. Your troll comments to get a reaction are sad. Old man in front of a computer syndrome. Working retail for 4 decades I’ve seen poor demeanor. Ray is the complete opposite. I respect the heck out him.

  3. J. Jacobson says:

    This alleged Granny Shack “crisis” appears to have put Albany governance into some sort of shutdown. City Councilors and the Mayor should refuse to accept their pay until this phony crisis is resolved.

    • Rich Kellum says:

      ALL $165.00 per month

      • J. Jacobson says:

        Based on the Council’s recent performance, one could easily infer that if you are a “mainstream” citizen/entity, you can quickly and easily tap into taxpayer-funding for your pet project. If not, you are more likely to be banned from walking the hallowed corridors of the Greater Albany Urban Inner Core District in search of a toilet. By the way, this is, in no way, a reflection on the good Christian sisters and brothers currently in charge. After all, history gets written by the winners.

      • J. Jacobson says:

        Your sarcastic response is particularly odious when one considers that you have actively run to earn and keep your position On High.
        You did so in full knowledge of the pitiable wages involved.

        Based on the inherent hypocrisy in your statement, one can only “guess” that a person, such as yourself, who chooses to continually grasp at power despite the slave-wage is doing so for reasons they’d rather not have known publicly.

        In the end, it all comes down to, as Aretha sang so well, “Who’s Zoomin’ Who”

  4. ean says:

    I think Kellum and the others should take a field trip up to Portland and see what is it like when none of the homes have adequate off street parking. I applaud the mayor for trying to be forward thinking on this and coming up with a decent compromise.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      And the mayor’s “compromise” (decent or otherwise) was exactly what?

      • ean says:

        Sorry, guess I don’t know what her original position was. She called it a compromise. Guess I should amend my original comment to read that I applaud her for taking the position she has taken to keep the streets available for parking, didn’t mean or want to get involved with the semantics battle.

  5. Avid Reader 1 says:

    et tu, Ray. If the shoe fits, you wear it. Just sayin’

  6. Mike patrick says:

    I don’t think there is much to worry about here as the number of properties I Albany that have the room to put in a “ADU” and still meet set back requirements are minimal.

    Ponder this as well. What would the difference be if the mother in law moved in to the empty bedroom in the existing house or put in a new house in the back yard. Either way you have the same parking situation don’t you? So if that’s the main hold up by the mayor she might want to think about that.

  7. HowlingCicada says:

    “””[Mayor Konopa] thinks what the majority wants could destroy Albany’s traditional single-family neighborhoods.”””

    1 – She’s probably right about absentee ownership. Would-be slum lords from anywhere could come in during the next downturn, buy many distressed properties, and convert them into masses of effectively-duplex rentals.

    2 – Off-street parking accomplishes nothing but adding impervious surface. Cars parked on the street improve livability by calming traffic and making pedestrians feel safer by isolating them from moving cars.

    If, in the distant future, street parking becomes scarce in single-family neighborhoods, solve it with permits and fees for long-time on-street parking. Give a fixed number of free permits per lot; make them sellable to discourage car-ownership even more, which benefits everyone.

    Furthermore, if large-scale absentee ownership is avoided, the whole parking issue becomes moot, because the biggest incentive to build many ADUs is eliminated.

    3 – 750 vs 900? Does anyone really care? Use this as a bargaining point to achieve compromise.


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