Approval of Eugene’s Civic Plans

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

This post, which can be seen here, shows the citizens’ approval of Eugene’s Civic Stadium plans.

Capstone Approval

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

For complete poll results on the Capstone housing project’s approval rating, click here.

Eugene Downtown Going in Right Direction

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

In general, do you feel downtown Eugene is heading in the right direction or do you think things have gotten off on the wrong track?

For complete poll results, click here.

Metropolitan Policy Committee has a key role in Lane County’s road improvements. by Pat Farr

Friday, July 12th, 2013

 

Coburg's fire department's resident dalmation, Pierce with a Coburg Firefighter.

For a pleasant change of venue, Lane County’s Metropolitan Policy Committee (MPC) met at the Coburg Fire Station on July 11.  Coburg’s Mayor Jerry Behney and City Administrator Petra Schuetz were hosts to the committee which is comprised of members of the Eugene and  Springfield  City Councils, the Lane County Board of Commissioners, Lane Transit District and Lane Council of Governments.

In addtion to me and Coburg’s officials, others in attendance were:  County Commission Chair Sid Leiken; Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy; Springfield Mayor Christine Lundberg and Councilor Marilee Woodward; LTD’s Ron Kilcoyne, Doris Towery and Martha Reilly; plus jurisdictional managers Jon Ruiz (Eugene), Lydia McKinney (Lane County), Len Goodwin (Springfield) and Brenda Wilson (LCOG).  See the MPC web page (click here).

The MPC’s function (click here to see the bylaws of the Committee) is to promote problem solving and to resolve intergovernmental disagreements among the cities and the county.  The MPC plays a vital role in “transportation system” planning for the region.  Where we go and how we get there is dependent on MPC’s smooth functioning.  I lobbied strongly for an appointment to the Committee (click here)while I was a Eugene City Councilor, but Mayor Piercy declined to appoint me.  I am now a member as a Lane County Board of Commissioners appointee.

On Thursday the committee discussed at length the recommended State Transportation Improvement Program additions for Lane County.  It is important in that the Oregon Department of Transportation has limited dollars for highway and bridge repairs and improvements and Lane County is in tough competition with other regions of the state for funding dollars.  Consequently the long list of needed road work in the county has to be prioritized with the most critical, as agreed upon by the MPC and the Area Commission on Transportation (ACT, click here to see the makeup and mission of this important planning group), being considered first.  For the full report provided to the Commission and the ACT by ODOT’s Savannah Crawford, click here.

Is a lack of land causing companies to locate jobs away from Eugene? by Pat Farr

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

It would seem so.  That is to say, yes it is.

In a briefing on Envision Eugene findings yesterday the Council heard that “We are not in the market to attract companies needing sites larger than 50 acres,” and that the state “is not able to forward industries to Eugene requiring larger sites.”

On November 22 I received a message from City Manager Jon Ruiz on my Council public email:

“Regrettably, I learned today from Rusty that Rexius has secured a location to relocate their business operations.  While still in the general area, it is outside of the Eugene urban growth boundary.  This comes after an extensive effort by Rexius to locate on a large tract of industrial land inside the Eugene UGB.”

This comes at a time when the lack of land available for larger manufacturing/high-paying companies to operate in Eugene is being studied in order to address the issue.

Councilor Zelenka noted during the Wednesday meeting that any recommendation that would add 50-plus acre sites to our inventory of land available for job creation would be “going after the gold ring.”  By this he is suggesting that we might be ignoring local businesses in our efforts to bring in new employers.  He also added that we did not “technically” need to add any large industrial sites based on the “history” of demand.  But clearly the lack of available land has been driving the cited lack of demand.

In fact, as noted in the email, our lack of suitable available land is causing long-time local businesses to relocate outside of Eugene.  By not allowing companies to grow within Eugene’s boundaries (and therefore within its property tax  base) we are significantly impairing their choices of where to build.  Rexius is not the first, and if we are unresponsive will not be the last.

Watch carefully over the next few months as the Council receives the recommendations of how to add land to our industrial base.  How individuals respond to the recommendations will be of note and the words they use will be telling.

 

Bascom Village–build it or not? by Pat Farr

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

PUBLIC HEARING MONDAY NOVEMBER 21 7:30 PM

Bascom Village affordable housing development’s opponents and proponents will have a chance to state their cases Monday night, November 21, to the Eugene City Council.  Many of the testimonies that will be heard have already been stated at a public hearing before the Housing Policy Board on November 9, which I attended.

Initially there was opposition voiced by Councilors to the motion proposing a Council hearing.  I felt that the full Council should have an opportunity to hear the testimony first-hand and after some discussion all other Councilors present at the November 16 Council meeting agreed.

On November 28 the Council will decide if and how to move forward with the St Vincent DePaul and HACSA housing project.  In the meantime we will hear and read testimony that will likely fit into one of six described categories and two that I will add.

The brief description of the pro- and con- sentiments is a summary only.

1.         Process. Opponents feel that they have not been given adequate notice of the design and building of the facility.  It is countered that the parcel was land-banked for affordable housing in 1997.

2.         Transportation/road issues. Opponents say the roads leading to and from the property are inadequate to support the added traffic.  It is countered that the roads will be built to City standards that apply to all streets throughout the city.

3.         Emergency response. Fire trucks and other emergency response vehicles have no adequate turn-around or egress at the facility according to opponents.  Proponents say the open space for turnaround inside the property meets or exceeds that in place in the surrounding neighborhood.

4.         Service access for the proposed new residents. Opponents believe access to shopping and public transportation will not meet the needs of new residents.  Proponents state that shopping availability is the same as it is for all other residents, that the potential for added bus lines is present and that new residents would have the same vehicular and pedestrian mobility as any other resident.

5.         Schools. Opponents contend that the schools in the area are already overcrowded and that additional families would overburden the system.  Proponents counter that school funding is through a state formula that takes into account the number of students in a school and that classroom size is a function of state funding and not of additional residents.

6.         Eugene’s Housing Dispersal Policy precludes addition of an affordable housing subdivision of this size (101 total units, 74 two or more bedroom “family” units).  Opponents contend that the policy adopted by the Council requires no more than 60 units of this type in a subdivision.  Proponents state that the 60-unit number is a guideline only, “aspirational” in nature and that 74 family units is only marginally more.

I will add these two reasons that have been stated by a few people, either privately to me or publicly in testimony:

7.         Not here, please. When people bought their houses, whether the expansive homes to the west or the more closely situated homes to the north of the project, they did not expect multi-family housing to be located on the empty fields that were in the neighborhood.  Other sites around the city would be better.

8.         We don’t want to subsidize housing, period. Some believe that subsidizing housing is not the place of government.

Most people who present or hear the testimony will have some level of preconceived notion about this and other such projects.  The eight Councilors plus the Mayor must listen with open minds to both the testimony and the counter-responses that will be presented before we make our decision on November 28.

See letters of support at:

http://www.eugene-or.gov/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_2_368212_0_0_18/Bascom_Village_ltrs_of_support.pdf

Or the website containing concerns at:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=10&ved=0CGsQFjAJ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.gilhamneighbors.com%2Fmedia%2FSmith%2520Opposition%2520Ltr%2520to%2520HPB%2520110611.doc&ei=SETJTs62DsnTiAKc3bjoDw&usg=AFQjCNHo-B5cSiznoAC_fEdN0-YdVhkMBw

Or a general Register-Guard article at:

http://www.registerguard.com/web/newslocalnews/27152040-41/housing-bascom-policy-village-project.html.csp

(An aside: another for public hearing on Monday and action on the 28th will include the Eugene Ordinance on Rental Housing Code, which, too, has vocal opponents and proponents.  More on that later.)

Addressing Housing Needs by Pat Farr

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

I think that every parent who has chosen to live in Eugene or close by harbors the dream, someplace inside, that their kids will live here too.  This is a great place to live for all of the reasons you know:  close to the ocean and to the snow in the mountains; amazing rivers and recreation minutes from home; not too big, but big enough to find most things you want or need; you are surrounded by open land and clean air and our public schools are in fact the best in the state.

And, oh, yes, we take care of people and families in need.  For instance, our food distribution system to those who are hungry is second to none in America.  We have neighbors who need help and we are glad to give it: even though we are aware that for a score of reasons we can never solve the problem, we address the symptoms.

Housing, like food, is a basic need that everybody deserves.  Here we have what has been called a housing ladder that is in place to address the continuum of shelter needs that exist.  Our goal has to be that every kid has a place to live.  Every adult, too, but let’s start with the kids.  Kids who are dependent on adults for their basic needs have little choice in the matter of where they live.  So we must make sure that as much is done as possible to offer their guardians choices.

The housing ladder starts by addressing homeless needs with emergency shelters for temporary stay or overnight survival.  This bare minimum is followed by modest subsidized housing, often small apartments, where households can establish a stable place to live.  Moving up the ladder we have larger, family oriented complexes that provide shelter and other services such as playgrounds, open space, day care, training, etc.  Then we have projects that allow rental to ownership giving families a chance to establish their own homes in their own houses.  After that people have choices of where to live in our community:  multi-family private housing or single family dwellings.

Some families, like my friends Manuel and Sara who, with their children, were able to move from the very first step in the housing ladder to their ultimate goal:  they now own their own home in an established neighborhood.  It’s a dream story, one for the books.

In north Eugene a project is being planned, Bascom Village, off County Farm Road, that might provide as many as 101 varied-sized units for people to live.  They will not be deluxe, but they will be comfortable, safe and offer stability that we all hope our kids and our neighbors can have.

But problems arise when such projects are planned, and the first and most likely people to point them out are the people who will be closest affected by the addition of multi-unit complexes into their midst:  the established neighbors.

Such is the case with Bascom Village.  The neighbors have had much opportunity since the project was announced to weigh in on their concerns, and the concerns are legitimate.

Yesterday the Intergovernmental Housing Policy Board considered the many hours and pages of public input and put forward a recommendation to the Eugene City Council regarding how to move forward with the project.

For a news story on the Housing Policy Board recommendation go to:

http://kezi.com/news/local/230582

For more details of the project see:

http://www.eugene-or.gov/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_2_368213_0_0_18/Bascom_Village_Sections_1_thru_4.pdf

Last week I attended a public forum during which the neighbors and others voiced their concerns and support:

http://www.myeugene.org/2011/10/27/ne-neighbors-and-city-host-public-forum-on-affordable-housing-project-video/

The Council will now consider the project as recommended and has the task of choosing how to move forward:  accept the recommendation from the board, make modifications or kill the project.

Lower cost housing is needed in our community and this project addresses stated goals to provide such.

The Council will hear about concerns in four basic areas:  schools, transportation, project dispersal policies and “not in my back yard.”  No concerns were brought forward that do not deserve consideration.  Addressing the concerns in a way that satisfies the people most affected will be paramount in Council deliberation.  Stay tuned.

Eugene Uni-Chem Solar Plant Support

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

See the polling numbers here.

Eugene Riverfront Research Park Expansion

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

See the latest polling numbers here.

Where Eugene-Springfield’s Private Business Is … Part 2

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Here are interesting post that indicate the relative intensity of private business in various parts of the Eugene-Springfield area measured by the ratio of private-sector employees to population by ZIP code in a graph and table and in a map.

As Envision Eugene moves forward, the  discussion is about how much to expand, if at all, to the north and west of Eugene. Private business is already more dense in those areas.

There’s another consideration, one that comes from the government perspective. As far as local property tax receipts are concerned, private business is a value added for a community. This implies the relative value-added gains for the Eugene budget are not coming from Mayor Piercy’s regional voting base.