FAN Board member Josh Newman recently interviewed city staff about the South Willamette Special Area Zone. The transcript follows. For more information about outreach related to South Willamette Concept Plan and South Willamette Special Area Zone, visit http://www.friendlyareaneighbors.org/fan_outreach_sw.html.
Josh – It seems like we have been through two processes related to planning for growth in the South
Willamette Corridor going back to 2010: The first was the concept plan, and the second more recently
was the SW-SAZ. What is the distinction between these two pieces and how do they fit together?
Jennifer – The City got involved in 2010 but the FAN Board had been engaged in conversations for some
time prior to that. The City came along in about 2010 and teamed up with the FAN Board and the
SouthTowne Business Owners Association and that’s when some of those initial visioning conversations
happened. (Some of this is posted on the website). So it was a group representing residents and
businesses. That was before I was involved with the project. But a lot of that information, such as who
was part of those conversations, is posted on the City’s website as part of the Public Engagement
Josh – Okay. So the City got on board and it became part of the Envision Eugene process, where
the main transportation corridors [including south Willamette Street] were identified as places for
densification where we could accommodate growth. It sounds like the neighborhood got involved
with some parallel discussions to influence development in that area and the City came on board
as part of Envision Eugene, is that right?
Jennifer – That sounds accurate. The idea of concentrating growth along the transportation corridors was
wrapped up as part of the Envision Eugene process prior to the specific discussions of south Willamette
that we’re talking about here.
Josh – I wonder if these conversations at the neighborhood and business level were follow on
from stakeholders that were involved with that broader Envision Eugene process?
Jennifer – Its possible
Josh – So how did you [the City] transition from the broader South Willamette Concept Plan into
the more specific South Willamette Special Area Zone effort in terms of the public outreach part?
Will – Well first of all, the Concept Plan had an implementation section and after outlining the “vision” it
said “okay, this is how this vision can happen”. One of the cliché critiques of planners is that we create
plans that then just sit on a shelf. The community gets excited about something, and then it never
happens. In this case, the community was clear that they wanted the vision to happen. They wanted the
plan to result in the legal framework that would allow this vision to come to fruition. So the first item in the
implementation section says “develop a code that makes this legal and prevents any of the negative
things that we don’t want to have happen here.” The obvious follow up to the concept plan was the code
development process and proposal for rezoning. That’s the relationship between those two components.
Jennifer – And as far as the public engagement goes, the visioning is a lot more of a hands on process…
we had charrettes and workshops and really specific questionnaires (and these were available online as
well) asking people specifically what they wanted in certain areas and certain components of the plan.
And then the code development process is where that information is translated into clear and objective
legal code language. The public involvement after that was really staff presenting the code language to
various people and groups and saying, this is what you wanted for Willamette, a very walkable area and
to do that we need to set the buildings back, etc. After that, the process was focused on vetting the code
concepts through the planning commission.
Josh – So the visioning part is where you get the public involved and the subsequent code
changes are how we enact the vision.
Jennifer – Right, exactly. The code changes are also done through a public process, and as part of the
public engagement we really tried to make people aware of the changes that are proposed for the area,
so we did door-to-door canvassing, for example, along the commercial areas, we partnered with the U of
O and Arriving by Bike to do some parklets along Willamette Street as part of the Art Walk, and some new
types of outreach.
Todd – Talking with Paul Moore last weekend, he related that the street restriping project that is
happening in parallel—but chronologically began prior to all of this—was originally all in the
concept. But when some people began raising bike and transportation issues the City Planning
Division pulled them apart. I just wanted to clarify the truthiness of that because it seems to me
that the repave of the street was really the driver for the striping and stuff, but maybe there is
some overlap. I think it would be good to clarify any myths or realities there.
Jennifer – Actually, Paul is correct. We were talking about Willamette Street in the early stages of this
project but then City Public Works Department was able to get grant money to study the street in detail.
Because of the terms of the grant money, they actually had to break the street portion off as a discreet
project unto itself.
Josh – Is that why on the concept plan drawings, the bike lanes sort of disappeared? I mean there
was a time during the concept plan charrettes when those drawings had indications of bike lanes
and then they were removed. I recall there was some question in the community around that time
as to “hey what happened to the bike lanes?” And that’s when the TGM grant came out.
Jennifer – Yep that’s right. I mean ideally, we wouldn’t have to have remove the area between the curbs
but the TGM grant [State of Oregon’s Transportation and Growth Management Program grant] required
the street design to become a project unto itself with its own timeline. We tried to make that as clear as
we could at the time. I think that some people were surprised because they were specifically pursuing
multimodal transportation on Willamette at the time.
Josh – I’m really glad we’re having that conversation because that is exactly the moment in time
when I became involved in the process so it’s good to have sort of a historical refresher here. At
the time, I was unaware of that rationale, so I was seriously concerned when the bike lanes
weren’t in the plan anymore. So now we are talking about the Special Area Zone and all the
sudden there are a lot of folks that seem to be surprised and didn’t see this coming. What do you
think that’s about?
Will – Well that is one of the challenges of this kind of work. We try to reach out to people as much as we
can. But different people have different triggers for paying attention to a project or a plan. For myself,
there are a lot of things that happen in the City that I don’t follow closely and so it’s understandable that
some people may not pay attention to something called a “visioning process” and feel very differently if
they receive a formal notice, for example. So our effort throughout the process is to create a number of
different ways for people to be involved and informed. One of the things that we’ve done is to build a
growing list of interested parties for email, which is one way to grow the number of people who stay
informed. If there are 5 people who stop by a booth at a neighborhood picnic and 30 people who come to
a meeting, then a number of people who check out the website, it continues to grow the email list and
increases the number of people who are getting informed.
Josh – Was the area around Cascade Manor an area that got added “after the fact” or after most of
the outreach had occurred or is that not accurate.
Jennifer – That’s one of the inaccuracies that is being perpetuated. Someone sent me an old document
that was in the FAN Newsletter from 2010 when the border [of the project area] was very much still under
discussion. The area around Cascade Manor was included in the project area at this time – in fact a
couple of plans extend the area further to the west. I can’t define the exact date when the current border
of the project area was solidified but by the Concept Plan, which was early 2013, it was published. So we
can safely say that since 2013, the current border has been in place and the outreach has followed
accordingly. That said, I could probably go back to the records and trace the exact date and it would likely
be much much earlier.
Will – We have heard that before. Unfortunately, neither one of us were involved then.
Josh – So that would be the same for the north boundary as well?
Jennifer – Yes. Setting the border was really part of the visioning process. I guess that’s the best way I
can describe it. I mean people at the workshops were asked what made sense and originally it was kind
of squishy and fluctuating but eventually that conversation resulted in the current border, Now we are
working on the land use code and for that, we want accuracy down to the tax lot.
Josh — So it sounds like that group around Cascade Manor, which seems to be at the heart of the
opposition, that area was included in the outreach at least going back to 2013.
Jennifer — That’s correct.
Josh – Getting back to Envision Eugene, which is the comprehensive plan, what are the goals of
Envision Eugene that the zone plan aims to accomplish? What is the long-term benefit we’re
trying to achieve? How does the plan purport to accomplish them? And what is the danger if we
don’t do it?
Will – The special area zone plan is in keeping with a lot of the ideas of Envision Eugene. It seeks to
provide housing affordable to a variety of income levels, there is an indirect benefit to climate change and
energy resilience, and also compact urban development and efficient transportation options. Perhaps the
key issue is the idea of protecting, repairing and enhancing [neighborhood] livability. This plan attempts to
do all three of those. By contrast, under the current zoning, if someone were to develop to the limits
allowed, it could create some serious problems for the neighborhood. In particular, the quality of the
pedestrian environment and the quality of the streetscape would be insufficient to meet the concept plan,
what the community wants and has asked for. These streetscapes and pedestrian realms are central to
achieving livability based on what we have heard from the community.
Jennifer – One of the directions that the City Council gave us is that we really want to grow in a compact
way. As we’ve discussed, Envision Eugene places these areas of compact growth along transportation
corridors. So there are a number of key transportation corridors that came out of Envision Eugene for
consideration as areas for compact growth.
Josh – So if you live in one of these corridors, as time goes on, you should expect to see similar
approaches to develop new zoning as is being done in the South Willamette corridor, is that
Jennifer and Will – That’s correct
Josh – Your answer made me think of how the new zoning may compare to the current zoning,
which you hit on just now. So how does the new zoning compare to what’s there right now? Are
there significant differences? For example how would the current code deal with something like
big box stores or, in the case of the neighbors near Cascade Manor, the building height in that
Will – The overarching difference is that the proposed new code is a carefully calibrated code, which is a
hybrid form based code. What that means is that it looks very specifically at this area and tries to create
standards that can be applied fairly surgically and precisely to individual streets and blocks whereas the
current R1 and C2 zoning, for example, applies equally with broad brushes across the city and in some
ways, not much different to C2 and R1 zoning across the country. By contrast, the standards for this code
are applied specifically and with a different height map so that the heights aren’t simply a function of the
uses that are allowed, which is the way that conventional zoning works. This zoning allows a range of
uses in these areas, but the uses don’t necessarily correlate to building height, which creates an
additional layer of nuance. The overall intention is to create standards that specifically fill out the vision
as opposed to code that just spells out what uses are allowed for different properties. This form-based
approach provides a framework that more closely corresponds to what the neighborhood specifically
asked for in the concept plan.
Jennifer – The form-based approach places more expectations on development. In the case of a big box
store, the form based codes have a lot higher design standards specifically in the pedestrian realm, which
is what we were really concentrating on enhancing. So this is a disincentive for the development of big
box stores if they come in with a cookie-cutter approach and requires more hoops to jump through, if you
will, which tends to discourage rather than encourage that kind of development. The big box stores are
changing their business model, so I’m not saying that there couldn’t be a big box store there, but with the
proposed code they would have to address the requirements of the higher design standards, which
ensure a walkable pedestrian realm. The current zoning is, by contrast, comparatively silent on that score.
Todd – I just wanted to clarify since I’m the source of this question, but I’m hearing a lot of
hyperbolic type of anti-responses one of which is “yeah this is going to create all these big box
stores and high-rises and crush our neighborhood…” and so forth. And what I’m hearing from you
is that the purpose of the zoning is to encourage forms that reflect the vision. Is there anything
you could say specifically about whether or not a big box store would be allowed under the
proposed versus the current code?
Will – There are two aspects of the big box store scenario. One is the company, and the other is the
design of the store or what it looks like. Typically, one goes with the other which is why a McDonalds
looks like a McDonalds and a Walmart looks like a Walmart. But the new code only regulates the form of
the building not the company that would be contained in the building. So it doesn’t preclude any national
chain store from coming in but it requires that if they do come in, they come in in a manner that is
conducive to a walkable environment. Typically, we find that most big box type stores are not willing to do
that outside of major urban areas like Portland or Seattle. So it doesn’t create a prohibition on big box
stores, or on the chains themselves…
Jennifer — …but it makes it much more difficult given their typical business model.
Will – Yes. We put the emphasis on the pedestrian, and not the company’s corporate needs. So if they
want to follow these rules, the zoning code is not going to be the thing that makes it illegal for them to
come. It’s just going to say you have to follow the standards we have in place for the neighborhood. It’s
not going to say you can’t come in.
Todd – Okay, I get it. It’s like in other cities I’ve visited where there’s an architectural standard so
if the company’s bottom line is favorable, then they’ll jump through that hoop, right?
Will – Yes.
Jennifer – So regarding Cascade Manor, like Will said, the height is independent of the use, which is a
unique concept, and that was something we really looked at in the workshops. So just to be clear, the
building height proposed in that area around Cascade Manor is 7 stories so its understandable that
property owners right there might not agree with that and that’s part of the discussion right now. The
other area where 7 stories is allowed is in the Woodfield Station area.
Josh – What were are the height restrictions currently?
Will – Woodfield Station is zoned C2 which in Eugene allows buildings up to 120-feet tall, which is
between 10 and 12 stories depending on what your story heights are. The area around Cascade Manor
is…well Cascade Manor itself is grandfathered in at its current height (8 stories). There are three
properties that are currently zoned R1 (30 feet) that would go to a 7-story max height under the proposed
code. These are at the corner of 29th Place and Portland Street. So this is the biggest jump in the
allowable building height right in that specific case. The rest of the area that is proposed as 7-stories max.
is currently zoned R-2 (medium density residential) which allows building heights of 35 feet.
This gets to one of the big misconceptions, especially around the beginning of this summer, which was
that the limits of the zoning are what we see built now. But that’s not the case in most places. There are
properties around the whole study area zoned R2—which allows small apartment buildings up to 35 feet
— where the existing homes are single family residences; there are plenty of places along Willamette
Street where the buildings are single-story commercial but the C-2 zoning allows buildings up to between
10 and 12 stories.
Jennifer — But as Will says, there are currently a lot of single-family homes on lots that are zoned for
Josh — So there really isn’t a correlation between what the zoning allows and what the built
Jennifer – That’s right. That was the original misconception, as Will said at the beginning of the summer
we were getting a lot of questions about this. I think now the issue is that people are hearing what their
neighbors are saying about worse case scenarios that are possibly inaccurate rather than actually looking
at what’s proposed.
Josh – So the proposed zoning is based on design standards rather than use, right? So what
prevents a developer from coming in and building to the extent that the code allows without any
public process. I understand that the design standards would place more hoops to get over to
retain the walkability and whatnot, but what’s to prevent a developer from going forward with
something that didn’t sit well with neighbors at that time?
Will — It depends on how they do it, but if they meet all of the provisions of the new code, and this would
be the same process under the current code as well as the proposed code mind you, it’s considered “asof-right”
and so they get to go forward without any public process. There would not be a requirement for a
public hearing. That is if they are asking for no special permissions. Of course City staff review the project
both from a land use perspective and from building and fire codes and all the other approvals, but if
somebody meets the code, then they can go forward.
Jennifer – Yeah, that’s something that’s sort of unique about Oregon is there’s a “clear and objective” path
where you can develop—whether it’s the current code or the proposed code—if you meet those “clear
and objective” standards, you are clear to build. And that’s why having more stringent standards in the
zoning requirements is really important. The other process is to go through a land-use application, which
introduces more discretion in the decision-making process, but that’s only if a property owner is applying
for something, such as a land division, Planned Unit Development, or Traffic Impact Analysis Review.
Also, while it’s true that the code does emphasize the form and appearance of development more than
use, the city will still regulate allowed and prohibited uses by category in each sub-district. That said, the
use list is intended to enable a generous mixing of uses where appropriate.
Josh – So it sounds like the extra-strength of the proposed zoning is that it requires more boxes
that need to be checked to ensure the livability and walkability aspects are met, whereas the
current code doesn’t really do that. It’s just like…hey, if you’re near Woodfield station you can
build a 10-story building.
Will – Right. And that’s one of the points going back to the idea to protect neighborhoods, where this
code is really important. The example that gets thrown out a lot is Capstone, downtown at 13th between
Olive and Willamette. My understanding is that building was built “as-of-right” under the current code,
which is C3 Major Commercial zoning. While that example is certainly not 150 feet tall, as the code
allows, it’s the kind of building that also would be allowed on most of south Willamette Street without
public process under the current C2 zoning. The way to address that as a community is to get out in front
and change the rules that are in place, which is what the Special Area Zone proposed zoning does. So
the idea is that we establish the rules, which are framed on the vision we have, that are clear and
objective, create a rule of law where we have a predictable environment to build in this area. It’s too late if
you wait until the building is proposed because at that point they [property owners and developers] are
within their legal right. The way to prevent an “as-of-right” application like those we’ve heard complaints
about is to change the standards and make sure the standards are in keeping with the community’s vision
Jennifer — And that’s not to say that every building built in the next 20 to 50 years is going to agree with
everyone’s aesthetic taste, but what this code does really well is it protects the urban realm, the public
realm, because it modulates the building to the extent that areas that everyone uses, that are the public
right-of-way and urban plazas, are going to be shaped in a much more nuanced way.
Will – We’ve steered very clear of developing an architectural code that’s style based such as you might
find in the city of Sisters, for example, or the southwest style that you see in some communities or in New
England you see they’re going for a certain kind of look. The code here concentrates on the principles of
the form which is more of the big-picture aspects and avoids issues of style as much as possible. So new
buildings that go in could be very traditional, or they could be very modern. They could be built in a style
that feels foreign or something very appropriate to Eugene. The aesthetic taste or look itself is something
we stayed away from. We instead focused on what makes a good neighbor, what makes a good
participant in the experience of Willamette Street and surrounding area.
Josh – It has been suggested that nothing over two-stories really pencils anywhere along and
around south Willamette Street, so this gets to the question of when or how long before
conditions are right for taller building heights—approaching what the proposed code allows—to
actually begin to materialize in the area? What do you think will happen in the next 5-years, 10-
years, etc. and what triggers those things to happen? And finally, what development and
associated traffic patterns would happen without the proposed new zoning?
Will – We’ve heard the same kind of assessment both anecdotally and in more formal conversations that
the economics aren’t there to do significant redevelopment. City staff worked with the Envision Eugene
Technical Resource Group of community members who have consulted on technical issues and we
developed a tool to analyze redevelopment opportunities. So 2 or 3 years ago, we applied that tool and
looked at what was the redevelopment potential for this area, what we found was that over the next 20-
years, this code would create additional opportunities for 60 additional units. So three units per year of
new redevelopment above and beyond what the current capacity would be. If a MUPTE or other
incentive were added to the code, then we’re talking about 250 additional units over the next 20 years, so
12 and a half units per year across the whole area.
Todd – so is that residential dwelling units? Or some other type of unit?
Will – Yes residential dwelling units.
Todd – That doesn’t seem like a lot!
Will — So what we are seeing in terms of technical critique is that it’s the economics more than the code
that will dictate what happens here. And that’s why the code is pretty minimal as a redevelopment tool.
Insignificant, really, as a redevelopment tool. It’s really a way to process and craft what kind or
redevelopment comes in and how it looks. So this is a good lead in to the question: What are the
dangers if we don’t do this? The projections for Eugene over the next 20-years are about 34,000 new
people, which is our official population estimate for planning. So the expectation is that people will be
coming to Eugene, including south Willamette, we don’t know how many, but the question isn’t whether
they come or how many come to south Willamette. The question is as people come, how will the code
function to shape development so that it creates a livable place for people?
Josh – Right. And due to the State goals [Oregon’s 19 Land Use Planning goals], we don’t get to
expand our UGB at will and there is a process for expanding the UGB, and the process is pretty
onerous so making expansion unlikely and so the growth is going to be along these
transportation corridors, right?
Will – Yes, the growth will occur here but the code is more about how the development occurs not
whether or not it occurs.
Todd – Okay but just a clarification because I think this might be another misconception…which is
that development could occur and densification could occur one way or the other so adoption of
the proposed rezoning has no bearing on pressure to expand the UGB, would you agree?
Will – I think that it’s the inevitable outcome of that kind of population study, which is that it’s the
economics, far more than the codes that will dictate redevelopment. But by pushing for livability, we can
add those people without creating a place that is undesirable, without creating a place that is unlivable.
So this would be growth without having people flee the area as new people come in. We’ve instead
created a city…Eugene will be a city that people choose to live in the denser urban areas because the
quality of life is maintained as more people come.
Jennifer – But you’re right about the UGB. The City Council, in a lot of ways—including their climate
goals—has determined, through Envision Eugene and community process that more compact growth, at
least for the next 20-years, is going to be the focus. It’s not going to be expanding the UGB into the farm
and forestland. And definitely the Oregon State land use laws support that and require efficiency
Will – So we have that overarching policy direction and now we’re trying to balance those goals with
Josh – Nicely done! Because that’s one of our questions, which is: Is this an isolated land-use
issue, or is there a bigger policy picture?
Jennifer – Yeah this is going to be an ongoing conversation.
Will – It’s also something that fits in with a number of other measures across the city of rezoning along
West 11th and Chad Drive for industrial land and figuring out a better form of zoning for those, the Walnut
Station, Downtown Riverfront, and Whitaker neighborhoods have all had rezoning changes that seek to
accomplish the same kind of citywide goals. And then we have commitments to work in the River Road/
Santa Clara area and University areas after the adoption of Envision Eugene. This is how the overarching
City policies get applied to individual neighborhoods.
Josh – Okay so the same kind of special area zone approach is being rolled out in these other
areas as well? Or is south Willamette kind of the test case? Or is it something that’s going on in
equal measures in these other areas?
Will – Each time one of these code changes happens there are some improvements to the process and
new aspects of the code. The new standards that have been set up here are the new single family options
provision which hasn’t gotten a whole lot of discussion, but its expanding the opportunities on single
family lots in what would be low density residential and it includes other residential types, in particular the
“cottage cluster” and “courtyard” housing where you have small units around a shared space.
Jennifer – To get to your question about special area zones, we do have other special area zones
throughout the city. The city is pretty small so each one is sort of unique unto itself. So for example
Walnut Station’s SAZ dealt mostly with the commercial corridor although it’s almost completely bordered
by residential neighborhoods. The EWEB property/Downtown Riverfront area was more of a master plan
because it’s on a lot that would be completely redeveloped. So there are unique aspects to each area.
Jefferson Westside has what I would call a design code because they kept their zoning as is but all the
R2 lots, which is what most of Jefferson Westside is, have higher design standard requirements. So there
are lots of different areas but not one is identical to south Willamette.
Josh – Okay, fair enough. Here’s a question from Nancy Ellen Locke, a longtime FAN resident and
former board member: How do we reassure residents of the Special Area Zone that this is not just
happening to them, but it’s happening in all the main transportation corridors? And I think we’ve
answered part of that question but here there’s an element of assurance for residents. I think
maybe she’s asking how do we make this process more understandable and easier for people,
and more palatable. Anyone want to take a stab at that?
Will – Well the reassuring part is a challenge. We have those commitments we have to other
neighborhoods. We’ve got the record of changes we’ve done elsewhere. And you could probably talk to
River Road neighborhood board members who are very eager to have city staff start working on their
neighborhood plan as we’ve been promising. But I’m not sure if that reassures anyone when it’s their
Jennifer – Yeah I don’t think that really has an easy answer. We are always looking at ways to do better
outreach. It’s a complex project and we’re going to really evaluate this after it’s over. I definitely think that
there’s a lot of things we could change to make it an easier process. I think that it’s always going to be
challenging because not everyone is going to agree on all aspects of these projects. I guess in general
we need to reassure people that we are there to answer their questions There is a lot of misinformation
out there. And so we have met one-on-one with people. Obviously we answer emails. I don’t know if that
really answers your question.
Josh – Well, it’s a tough one to answer I think and I’m not sure if I fully understood Nancy’s intent.
This all came together really quickly.
Jennifer – Yeah, thanks again for doing this…I think this is a really good format.
Will – I think one of the other things, which just goes to broader reassurance is that the code is
complicated, there’s no question about that…because the code has to be a legal document that can be
used in challenges and basically like any law. But at the same time, we’ve been working on making the
code as easy to understand as possible, increasing the number of diagrams, and working to use as
simple language as we can. Going back to the idea of misconceptions, one is that there are no tools
available to help people understand it. We’ve tried to put front and center on the website both frequently
asked questions and …
Jennifer — …and we’ve also got some really helpful code summaries comparing the current code to what
the new proposed code is and those are what we used in discussions with the planning commission. And
those I think are really helpful because we would have to get through the material in a one and a half or
two hour work session – with the Planning Commission or City Council – so those kind of summary
documents are really helpful and concise in explaining what’s being proposed.
Will – The other thing, I don’t know if this helps reassure people but going forward, we’re also interested
in ways people can help us improve this process because like Jen said we are reevaluating this and it’s
complicated because around the country, planners are struggling with ways to involve people, especially
as areas become more diverse and sometimes people are less engaged. So how do you reach people
who haven’t been engaged in the past with city plans and projects? How do you engage people who are
part of a culture that, for what ever reason, is not engaged? How do you bring these messages to young
people who grew up in a different period than people who grew up 20, 30, 40 years ago. So we’re
constantly looking for new ways to reach people who haven’t been reached, and using new tools and new
media to reach people.
Josh—That’s kind of central to planning isn’t it? Some of my dearest friends are planners so I
sympathize with you. But you have to have a lot of patience to be a planner, don’t you? Because
you’re always struggling to get people to hear what you’re saying and make sure you hear them
too, and get as many people involved as you can. And it’s a very technical and difficult topic to
Jennifer – Yeah. People have questioned our transparency and been concerned about legal noticing. But
really for us it’s much easier if people get involved and stay involved from the beginning. It makes it much
more easy for us. But as Will said, it’s a constant struggle getting people involved.
Josh – Well we should be looking to wrap up here, but just a couple of quick ones…Is there going
to be a traffic study to see how traffic patterns might be affected by rezoning?
Will – We have analyzed likely traffic impacts of the code as required by state law; that is part of the
project record. In addition, the Eugene Transportation System Plan is being updated and is our
overarching transportation system planning document. That plan, in looking at the needs and wants and
the capacity for the next 20 years included the updated zoning for south Willamette Street and found that
there were no need for additional infrastructure beyond what’s already being planned. So that was one
level of scrutiny for the project. Any individual projects–and this is the way it always has been anywhere
in the city—large projects that are being developed need to do a traffic impact analysis to see if there’s a
need for things like crosswalks, signs, signals, etc. So whether or not the zoning goes through, that’s the
thing that will establish if any single project will overburden the system. And finally, the big picture item on
this is that as part of the findings that we send to the state to demonstrate that the code is in keeping with
state law, we have to meet the transportation goal–goal 12 of the state planning goals–which says that
we need to make sure that transportation is carefully taken care of. So one of the ways the state gets at
this is that they’ve connected planning for good and successful transportation and keeping the idea of
land-use that we in Oregon pride ourselves in, is that if an area takes specific care to be what’s called a
multimodal mixed-use area—or MMA—the standards of the code demonstrates this is a place that
deliberately has worked to create options beyond driving as well as the proximity of uses which will also
cut down on the number of trips, that the way we have fulfilled the state mandate for land use and
transportation coordination is by the code itself. And that gets back to the idea that this code is about
figuring out how development goes forward and not whether or not there will be development.
Josh – What are the next steps? Will there be more opportunities for neighbors to get involved?
Will – The answer is definitely yes. The final decision making body is the city council. And the City council
has not yet started their process, which includes a work session, hearing, and deliberations. It’s important
to note that the public record is open which means than anything sent to us or the City Council will be
included as part of the public testimony.
Jennifer – And in the following weeks we are also going to have a follow-up meeting with the
neighborhood leaders that put together the general meeting with the four neighborhoods. I don’t know
what is going to come out of that. There will be some follow up to that meeting but I don’t know what it will
Will – So there will be a City Council work session, which I believe is slated for mid-October. And the
dates have been changing so we really recommend that people go to the project website or the city
council website for the latest information on dates [Currently scheduled for October 21st at noon, Harris
Hall, 125 E. 8th Avenue]. So at the work session, the City Council is primarily asking clarifying questions
for themselves. The big event for the public will be in November, which is the public hearing. And this is
where people will have the opportunity to submit 3-minute testimony in front of City Council. But the
written testimony is acceptable; you can do both, and they are all weighted equally. All submitted as part
of the public record. The City Council has the opportunity to close the public record at the end of that
session. So we urge people to submit sooner rather than latter because the public comment period may
be closed sometime in November.
Jennifer – And you can do written testimony and speak. You’re not limited on that.
Will – And then typically the next step would be deliberations. And during deliberations, because the
records are closed, the Council will no longer accept testimony on this topic. You can still speak on other
unrelated topics, but they won’t hear further testimony on the south Willamette Special Area zone topic at
Josh – So there will be the regular public testimony at the beginning of the meeting, for anything
but the topic at hand
Will – you could talk about anything in the world except the South Willamette Special Area Zone. So get
your comments in as soon as you can and attend the public hearing. You can attend the work session
too, but it caters to the council’s understanding of the issue, not public comment. The big one is the
meeting in November, which is the public hearing.
Josh – Todd, anything to add?
Todd – No, just thanks for your time and adding all this clarity and it’s going to be very helpful for
our neighborhood and residents and stakeholders
Josh – Ditto that, thank you guys very much.
Jennifer – Yeah, thanks Josh and Todd
Will – Thanks and let us know if we can help you clarify any of this as you are going back through it all if
there was something we were unclear about.