"Asked and answered" is a simple, but effective and necessary tenet of the legal system that allows a conversation to move forward, even if both sides don't fully agree. It is an objection. One attorney may object that the opposing attorney continues to ask the same question, even though an answer has been given. And, if the judge agrees, the conversation moves forward with the concession that the particular item is agreed upon, even if one party isn't thrilled about what "answer" was given.
On Monday, Bend's City Council got an earful of legal arguments about whether the Oregon State University-Cascades site plan application was proper and legal. For the past year, a group of residents calling themselves the Truth in Site Coalition has expressed its concerns that the college campus will bring unwanted traffic and noise to the westside neighborhood. Those complaints have increasingly become litigious, with the group most recently submitting an appeal to City Council for the site plan.
On Monday, the City Council heard legal arguments from both sides, and subsequently re-affirmed approval for OSU-Cascades to site its new campus on the westside 10-acre parcel of land. (See News, Page 7.)
Yet, that does not seem to be the end of the story. For Truth in Site, it seems as if the question still isn't "asked and answered." The group has expressed its intent to appeal the decision to Land Use Board of Appeals, and most likely will.
We urge them not to do so. Asked and answered. Let's move forward.
We are pleased that City Council did decide to hear the appeal from Truth in Site. It is important for a community to have an opportunity to vent its complaints and civilly present its side of the argument; that is an important part of the process, but another important part of the process is moving past the arguments and finding a conclusion. Otherwise, the conversation languishes much like the debate over Mirror Pond has now for years. OSU-Cascades cannot afford the luxury of a languishing conversation—nor should it have to do so.
We believe that OSU-Cascades, under the very capable direction of Becky Johnson, has thoroughly presented its sides of the arguments—and City Council agreed with its contentions. Moreover, throughout the process and in response to citizens' concerns, OSU-Cascades has listened intently and made concessions where appropriate.
One of the primary arguments against the campus has been whether there will be sufficient parking—and, if not, how many cars will be spilling into the residential neighborhoods and taking up space. Responding to that issue, OSU-Cascades hired a consulting company to calculate the necessary numbers of parking spots for its debut of 1,900 students; that number is just under 300. OSU went even further, conducting its own additional studies, looking at similar campuses (like UC-Boulder); those studies found the same numbers, that the students and staff will need just under 300 parking spots.
In response, OSU-Cascades gave a nearly 10 percent bump to the number of parking spots and has plans to site more than 300 spots.
Truth in Site, however, doesn't agree, even though it didn't cite any specific studies in its remarks Monday—and without compelling evidence or arguments, City Council rightly rejected that argument.
Speaking with the Source, Johnson explained that in spite of the chilly reception from some members of the community, OSU-Cascades remains excited and optimistic about the site—and about opening the new campus. "Beyond the legal," she explained, "we feel strongly that students want to be integrated within the community; that this is the right place for the university."
Ironically, Truth in Site's concern is that OSU-Cascades won't make good neighbors. Perhaps, though, it is time for its members to start acting like better neighbors themselves.