Envision Eugene Public Open House


Dear Friends and Neighbors,

One outcome of our Southeast Neighbors general meeting on Tuesday was a request for information on further opportunities to engage the Envision Eugene (EE) 20 year planning process, especially as it is now moving rapidly into an incremental decision phase.

One opportunity is tonight:

Envision Eugene Public Open House
Thursday, February 10, 2011
4-7pm
Roosevelt Middle School

Based on what we saw in the parallel north Eugene EE open house on February 3, this will be a drop-in-style event, with several stations set up related to the “seven pillars” of the draft city staff recommendations to the City Council. Several city staff will be there to answer questions and receive comments.

These draft pillars and tactics are the primary essential work product of Envision Eugene to date, in which the plan is starting to take shape, with all its various glories and blind spots.

You can read the current draft pillars online at:
http://www.friendsofeugene.org/files/EE … -01-11.pdf

At the open house Thursday night, there will be a bunch of valuable background and new information illustrating the pillar concepts, mixed in with a bunch of typically vacuous rah-rah stuff.

SOME KEY QUESTIONS

The sense we formed of the pillars overall through the Southeast Neighbors general meeting on Tuesday is that the pillars present a positive and functional framework for a good plan.

And, unsurprisingly, that the devils are in the details, and there are a number of those little biters.

The neighborhood has also asked for some talking points that would integrate the sense of the group on Tuesday with the deeper background a few of us have gathered from participating in the many day-long meetings of the Community Resource Group. Those are under construction.

For starters, here are some questions worth considering…

– In which areas, for which pillars, are the tactics mostly about studies and pilots, and in which areas are the tactics stated as concrete actions?

– Are there holes in the intended protections for our irreplaceable established neighborhoods? (Loopholes in the concepts of transition zones, and opportunity siting, for instance?)

– Is the concept of natural resource protections drawn too narrowly, too timidly? For instance, what about protecting our fir forests (not just oaks), the main Willamette River (not just the confluence), and Amazon Creek?

– Does the commitment in the plan to reducing the community carbon footprint, in terms of interlocked transportation and land use, stand up to what you think would be right? Say, in accord with the state-adopted GHG emissions reductions goals?

“By 2020 to achieve greenhouse gas levels 10% less than
1990 levels and by 2050 to achieve greenhouse gas levels
75% below 1990 levels.”
http://www.oregon.gov/ENERGY/GBLWRM/HB3543.shtml

– Several key questions are left open explicitly:

– The possibility of an urban growth boundary (UGB) expansion to provide prime industrial sites, even though the inventory shows over 900 acres of excess industrial land, over our projected needs.

– The possibility of a UGB expansion for single family home construction. The numbers behind this depend heavily on the planned housing mix. (Based on my study of the inventory, needs, affordability factors, neighborhood, farmland, and habitat protection, our changing demographics, etc. I recommend that we plan for a new housing mix of 40% for single-family-detached, 60% for single-family-attached and other multifamily. This 40:60 mix should also prevent the need for a UGB expansion.)

– And finally, overall, ask yourself whether the draft tactics under the pillars clearly define a new direction to actually create high-quality compact urban growth in Eugene, or if, as currently drafted, they still waffle between really good intentions, and hanging onto a deadly overdose of business-as-usual.

SOME BACKGROUND MATERIAL

I think it is time for a clear change in how we grow Eugene, and that’s what I want to see happen through Envision Eugene. A clear change of direction, in the right direction, might be my litmus test for the whole big EE project.

You can find a background essay on how to create a win-win approach to growing better, not bigger, while protecting our existing resources and assets – by putting a big chunk of our growth into high-quality mixed-use buildings located in our existing underused commercial areas – in the July 2009 SEN Newsletter, online:
Infill, Climate Change, and Our Neighborhood
http://www.southeastneighbors.org/files … 702-01.pdf

Another background piece on why it is so important to concentrate our growth in the inner half of the urban growth boundary – using a win-win approach to neighborhood preservation – is online here:
On ‘Travel and the Built Environment’
http://www.architectureweek.com/2010/0818/

It’s more than ten years since Eugene as a city took a serious look at our growth plan and policies. In these challenging times, I think it’s more important than ever for us to work together as a community to get it right this time.

with best wishes,
Kevin Matthews
Southeast Neighbors
Friends of Eugene