The private status of Oswego Lake remains undetermined

Mark Williams, Editor-in-Chief

Volume 71, Issue 1

October 3, 2022

The Oswego Lake public access court case was placed on hold after an earlier ruling was disputed. In 2012, the Lake Oswego City Council passed a resolution that limited access to only city residents. Additionally, only the 3500 homeowners granted permission by the Lake Oswego Corporation (a non-profit responsible for maintaining the lake) are allowed access to boat launching points. The Lake Oswego Corporation only considers some Lake Oswego residents eligible for access to the lake. As a result of the restricted lake access, a lawsuit was filed to make Oswego Lake public. In 2014, a circuit court judge maintained that the City of Lake Oswego was allowed to restrict public access to Oswego Lake.

This changed earlier in 2022, Judge Ann Lininger ruled that Oswego Lake does qualify for public access under Oregon law while awaiting an additional ruling on the scope of which Lake Oswego can reasonably regulate lake access. Judge Ann Lininger has since been called into question as she allegedly had a prior phone conversation with the plaintiffs in the Oswego Lake court case where she discussed legislation that would move to make the lake access public. Lininger was not working as a judge at the time of the phone call and was serving in the Oregon State Legislature. The plaintiffs, Todd Prager and Mark Kramer, filed a motion to stay or pause the dismissal of Lininger from the case. If Lininger is dismissed from the case, it is possible for the earlier decision making Oswego Lake access public to be overturned. The second part of the case, which involves the question of whether Lake Oswego’s regulation of Oswego Lake is reasonable, will depend on the prior ruling.