Recommendations, demands and threats for the Council to consider. By Pat Farr

 

On Friday March 29 the Opportunity Eugene Task Force  (Forum Lane, 1/5/12) had its last meeting.  The plan was to review a draft of recommendations that were to be made to the City Council regarding the work of the task force.

The recommendations had been winnowed down from discussions of the broader group by a smaller planning group.  This group was selected to narrow the discussion to a manageable number of point to present to the City Council.

Five meetings of the Task Force had been held between January 4 and March 6 each lasting around two hours.  The meetings involved as many as 50 participants with an audience of observers.  The report from the smaller group included the following:

“The investment made in establishing the Opportunity Eugene Task Force has yielded results.  While consensus among the group was difficult to achieve, three key recommendations have been identified.  These recommendations are as follows:

1.  There should not be cuts to existing services, and the City should work to meet needs by bolstering existing services.

2.  A site (or sites) is/are needed for a safe, legal place for the unhoused.

3.  A body is recommended to expedite and further the work of the Opportunity Eugene Task Force.”

Following these three key recommendations in the draft is a list of prioritized actions Eugene City Council and others may take to implement the above recommendations.  The list of actions includes such achievable suggestions as:  “Approve the zoning change to enable expansion of the Eugene Mission from occupancy of 400 to 643.”

Rather than discuss the recommendations it was immediately asserted by members of a separate group that the final draft needed to be revised and a 16-page list of changes to the recommendation, “because of the nature of its construction and multiple authoring, it lacked the clarity and “punch” that it needed…” was forwarded.

What was to be a relatively concise recommendation slipped into an angry discourse from members of Occupy Eugene who made statements like, “you will have blood on your hands” if you don’t recommend immediate action.

A particularly troubling statement, directed by an Occupy Eugene participant toward a dedicated Lane County staff member who has devoted her professional career to finding solutions for homeless adults and kids, “I don’t want to live on the same planet as you” was disturbing enough that I lost confidence and enthusiasm that a civil recommendation could be formed.

The final recommendation to Council is being drafted, but I fear that it will be so broad and nonspecific that it will be difficult for the Council to agree on practical areas to address.

I expect that a smaller committee will be appointed to further explore what can realistically be done in a way that addresses longer term needs.

Demands for an October 1 2012 startup of a self-governed homeless camp, as made by members of Occupy Eugene, are not likely to be realized because of a large number of issues including but not limited to: local and state codes and zoning requirements, public process and impact on adjacent neighborhoods.

Threats made by certain individuals of consequences if it doesn’t occur need to be taken seriously.

 

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