United Way hosts nonprofits’ discussion with legislators. by Pat Farr

Monday, October 10th, 2016

On October 6 I moderated a discussion between Oregon State Legislators and the heads of 15 agencies funded by United Way of Lane County.

Noreen Dunnels, United Way of Lane County's Executive Director asked me to moderate a discussion between funded agency chiefs and state legislators on October 6 2016.

Noreen Dunnels, United Way of Lane County’s Executive Director asked me to moderate a discussion between funded agency chiefs and state legislators on October 6 2016.

More than 15 chiefs of Lane County’s largest nonprofit organizations, a total of thirty five participants, asked hard questions regarding how each of the legislators on the panel would support their priorities in the 2017 Oregon Legislative Session.

Questions for Oregon Legislators from the audience were direct and incisive.

Questions for Oregon Legislators from the audience were direct and incisive.

Included on the panel were veteran legislators Senator Lee Beyer (D-Springfield), Representative Phil Barnhart (D-Eugene and Brownsville), Senator Chris Edwards (D-Eugene), Representative John Lively (D-Springfield) and Representative Nancy Nathanson (D-Eugene).

Representative John Lively listens as Rep Nancy Nathanson fields a question on affordable housing.

Representative John Lively listens as Rep Nancy Nathanson fields a question on affordable housing.

Each legislator had an opportunity to introduce themselves and their priorities before  the start of questioning.  While each talked of ranges of issues, their main focus was on the business likely to come before the committees they chair (each of the representatives is standing for reelection in November).  Beyer chairs the Senate Transportation Committee; Barnhart is chair of House Revenue; Edwards chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources; Lively chairs the House Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committee and Nathanson is co-chair of the Joint Ways and Means Committee.

Each legislator paid particular attention to issues likely to be worked in the committees they will chair if re-elected and Democrats maintain control of both bodies.

Each legislator paid particular attention to issues likely to be worked in the committees they will chair if re-elected and Democrats maintain control of both bodies.

Questions and comments largely centered on budgetary priorities and each legislator talked about the difficulty of funding all projects and agencies that they would like to fund.  Rep. Lively summed up the budgetary question with the response, “As our economy continues to slowly improve, we have much work to do to make the incremental changes we can with the resources we have.”

Beyer, Barnhart and Edwards team up on a response regarding the affordable housing crisis

Beyer, Barnhart and Edwards team up on a response regarding the affordable housing crisis

uway-edwards-barnnhart-100616

Noreen Dunnells, Amanda McCluskey, Erin  Fifield, Kara Smith, Beverlee Hughes and others engage the panel.

Noreen Dunnells, Amanda McCluskey, Erin Fifield, Kara Smith, Beverlee Hughes, Jacob Fox and others engage the panel.

uway-opperman-100616

The main focus of everyone’s attention was the lack of housing at all levels in Lane County.  The low vacancy of rentals combined with the high expense of building new residences have combined to cause more families and individuals to fall into either impossibly expensive housing or homelessness.

Beverlee Hughes, Executive Director of FOOD for Lane County succinctly stated, “Four years ago when we asked clients ‘What single thing would help you most?’ the response was overwhelmingly, ‘Affordable health care.’ Today the response is, .Jobs and affordable housing’.”

uway-audience-100616

Agencies represented (not all are UW funded agencies) in the room included, ARC of Lane County, Volunteers in Medicine, Planned Parenthood, Lane County Human Service Commission, Kids in Transition to School, Oregon Social Learning Center, Salvation Army, Lane Independent Living Association, Boy Scouts of America, Parenting Now, Looking Glass, Centro Latino Americano, Direction Services, Housing and Community Services Agency of Lane County, City of Springfield, Community Sharing of Cottage Grove, HIV Alliance, YMCA, FOOD for Lane County, Goodwill Industries, St. Vincent DePaul of Lane County, NEDCO.

 

Food is grown in Oregon, served in Bethel Schools. by Pat Farr

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Bethel Schools with Chris Parra as Superintendent, has a nationally acclaimed farm-to-school program.

oregon-harvest-day-menu-from-fairfield-school-100616

The menu of all-Oregon-grown food served to students and a few adult guests at Fairfield Elementary School on October 6, 2016.

I joined Superintendent Parra; farmers Tom Hunton and ten more; board member Paul Jorgenson; Jennie Kolpak; Brian Flick and about 60 first-graders enjoying this meal of remarkable food that was one-hundred percent grown and produced here in Oregon.

My lunch includes Tillamook Cheese, Franz Bread, Lochmead Farms milk, Painted Hills beef, Nancy's Yogurt, Camas Mills whole wheat flour, greens and fruits from Bethel Farm (Kalapuya High School), Hilltop Farm, Excelsior Farm, Bob's Red Mill, Slo Farm at King Estate, Johnson's Farm, Truit Bros and Heindman Farm...

My lunch includes Tillamook Cheese, Franz Bread, Lochmead Farms milk, Painted Hills beef, Nancy’s Yogurt, Camas Mills whole wheat flour, greens and fruits from Bethel Farm (Kalapuya High School), Hilltop Farm, Excelsior Farm, Bob’s Red Mill, Slo Farm at King Estate, Johnson’s Farm, Truit Bros and Heindman Farm…

Bethel’s Nutrition Program is a national leader in providing innovative ways to make sure kids get into the habit of eating nutritious, delicious food grown within a few miles of their home.

harvest-day-hunton-kolpak-100616

Chris Parra and Brian Flick are happy--as they well should be--about the effects of serving Oregon grown food to kids in Bethel Schools

Chris Parra and Brian Flick are happy–as they well should be–about the effects of serving Oregon grown food to kids in Bethel Schools

 

Paul Jorgenson, long-time board member and school principal, loves eating healthy and enjoying great food

Paul Jorgenson, long-time board member and school principal, loves eating healthy and enjoying great food

How Do You Rate Business Downtown?

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

How would you rate the business environment in downtown Eugene?

For complete poll results, click here.

Tiny Homes can build equity and provide very affordable places to live. by Pat Farr

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

I will be speaking at Eugene’s City Club tomorrow about a promising new (for our area) concept in affordable housing.

This example of a tiny home shows that they can look dignified and fit into any neighborhood...

This example of a tiny home shows that they can look dignified and fit into any neighborhood…This example does not represent designs being considered for EVE…its homes will be on foundations as opposed to wheels…

Dubbed “Emerald Village Eugene” (EVE), this project will provide permanent housing ranging from 120 to 250 square feet for small households of one to three individuals. The monthly payment, including all utilities and fees, is projected to be in the range of $225 to $275/month. Unlike most affordable housing projects, however, the residents will not be renters. Instead, they will be members of a housing cooperative that owns the facilities.

The panel of speakers includes (sic): Speakers: Pat Farr, County Commissioner and member of the Poverty and Homelessness Board of Lane County; Andy Heben, Project Director, SquareOne Villages, and author of Tent City Urbanism; and Dan Hill, co-founder, Arbor South Architecture, and Past President, Lane County Home Builders.  Go here for more information.

 

Thanks for the spark, Jack Roberts. by Pat Farr

Monday, May 25th, 2015

 

I was watching the 1994 elections very closely.  A County Commissioner who had been instrumental in helping Jerry’s Home Improvement Center with a tiny urban growth boundary change that allowed us to build our first large store in West Eugene was running for State Labor Commissioner.

Jack Roberts, previously Lane County Commissioner and then Oregon Labor Commissioner  was an effective Director for Lane Metro Partnership

Jack Roberts, previously Lane County Commissioner and then Oregon Labor Commissioner was an effective Director for Lane Metro Partnership.  He now serves as head of the Oregon Lottery Commission

Jack Roberts had made the arguments, in a joint meeting with the Eugene City Council, that it was good for local business and the economy to make the adjustment.  It happened.

Not long after the newly approved Jerry’s Store was opened Debi Farr talked me into running for the Bethel School Board.  I won.  It was right after that victory that I watched Jack Robert’s great victory in his bid for Labor Commissioner.

When Roberts was elected, the balance of the County Commissioners selected my City Councilor, Bobby Green, to replace him on the Board of Commissioners.

Then came the phone calls to me.  Would I consider replacing Bobby Green on the Eugene City Council.  I said no, but many calls and discussions with many people convinced me to do so.  And I won.

Eight years later Majority Leader Karen Minnis, later Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives, called me to ask if I would run for the House seat in District 14.  Once again I said no, but was worn down by many phone calls and discussions.  I won that, as well.

Today I sit in what was Jack Roberts’ and subsequently Bobby Green’s seat on the Lane County Board of Commissioners.

So, thank you Jack Roberts for your initial spark.

Jack served admirably as Oregon Labor Commissioner for eight years, then led the Lane County Metro Partnership through many years of catalyzing the local economy.  Now he is serving, once again, admirably, as the Oregon Lottery Commission Director.

Eugene’s Current Economic Growth Rate

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Do you believe that recent economic growth in Eugene has been too fast, too slow, or just about right?

For complete poll results, click here.

Oregon Trees survive and grow. by Pat Farr

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

 

Patrick and Evan Farr kayaking on Fern Ridge Lake

Patrick and Evan Farr kayaking on Fern Ridge Lake

I love this picture.  Our two sons are kayaking on Fern Ridge Lake just west of our home in Eugene. I am a preservationist, and we preservationists have to be happy to see the backdrop of Douglas fir trees in their many phases of growth.  In this picture you see old growth, second growth, third growth and ornamentally planted Doug fir, which is (as you likely know) our state tree.

Oh, off to the left you see a clear cut, also.

A year-round Farmers’ Market downtown Eugene: discussions are under way. by Pat Farr

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

 

Who wouldn’t want to see a year-round farmers’ market replace the current, highly popular but seasonal and Saturday only (plus an occasional Thursday) market that exists today?

If you've been to the weekend Farmers' Market in Eugene you know it can be crowded

If you’ve been to the weekend Farmers’ Market in Eugene you know it can be crowded

Here’s the deal:  there’s a bunch of talk going on about a land-swap deal between Lane County and the City of Eugene ( see video here). There are so many reasons that the deal won’t work.  Trading one half-city-block for another goes against all reasonable thinking.

Eugene and Lane County have started talking about trading the “Butterfly Parking Lot” for the eastern half of the block that formerly housed Eugene’s City Hall.  As soon as the talk began, people began amassing the many reasons that will not work.  Where will people park?  What about Eugene and Mary Skinner’s original (mid-1800’s) view of what downtown Eugene should look like?  What about the disparity in value of the two parcels?  The list goes on, and grows daily.

So why now do I find myself talking with the editorial boards of both The Register-Guard and Eugene Weekly about the subject?  And, why am I joined by Mayor Kitty Piercy and City Manager and assistant Jon Ruiz and Sarah Medary as well as interim County Administrator Alicia Hays in these discussions.

The answer:  because there are compelling reasons that now is the first time in history that the swap may make sense.  The discussion involves Lane County giving up the butterfly lot, which is currently slated for a replacement County Court House and allowing Eugene to enter an agreement with Lane County Farmers’ Market to position a year-round market in that space.  At the same time Eugene would give up half of its current City Hall block for a future Lane County Court House.

The idea could work beautifully.  And it could be a bust.  But the time is correct right now to look at all of the reasons pro- and con.

Whereas, if you've been to the Farmers' Market in Olympia you know it is a great place to hang out...

Whereas, if you’ve been to the year-round Farmers’ Market in Olympia you know it is a great place to buy an amazing variety of fresh food in a comfortable setting, meet friends, have lunch, entertain visitors or simply hang out…

There will be a joint public forum with the Lane County Board of Commissioners and the Eugene City Council on June 3 2014, 6 pm at Harris Hall to hear from you why or why not the two governments should pursue the concept.

Fast Food Only Restaurant Tax Ballot Test

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Would you support the restaurant tax if fast food restaurants were exempted?

For complete poll results, click here.

Restaurant Tax Ballot Test

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Do you support or oppose a City of Eugene restaurant tax to make up the revenue shortfall?

For complete poll results, click here.