bottom line on Eugene industrial lands, to date...

Eugene, Oregon, USA: A forum for Friends of Eugene and discussion of Eugene-related land use, transportation, livability, environment, economic justice, and environmental quality issues.

bottom line on Eugene industrial lands, to date...

Postby Kevin » Wed Jul 27, 2011 2:18 pm

Dear Mayor Piercy and Eugene City Council,

Ever since an accidental breakdown of community collaboration within the Envision Eugene CRG Economic Development Committee led to a one-sided report going forward and becoming a basis for certain numbers in the current Envision Eugene draft proposal -- interrupting the committee's ongoing process of research and discussion around real economic development needs -- controversy has swirled around the issue.

At the bottom line, there are two most basic flaws in the current projection of 400-500 acres of UGB expansion areas for large industrial sites.

1) The actual need is not properly established to guide site selection.

The actual need for large sites is currently based on presumptions and economic mental models well past their historical expiration date -- not on economic development planning that meets current State of Oregon recommended practices.

The need may be there, in fact - but that has not actually been shown yet. We have to make the large-site need factual, to be able to develop it appropriately and successfully.

2) Potential sites have not been compared accurately.

In fact, the comparative analysis of potential industrial sites inside and outside the UGB currently in use applies more relaxed criteria to sites outside the UGB than to sites inside the UGB. The grass-is-greener fallacy has been busy in this draft.

The comparison of potential sites should strive to be strictly neutral across the whole range of significant criteria, and then, add the obvious downsides of expansion to the evaluation of outside-UGB sites, to achieve an accurate and effective evaluation.

Eugene needs well-grounded, tough-minded, predictable, and effective economic development planning.

On a positive note, these two deficiencies can be easily remedied with City Council direction. We recommend that the Council support staff and community best outcomes -- through continued community collaboration -- with these two actions:

a) Indicate to City staff that the 400-500 acre expansion in the current draft is not to be considered sacred.

It would help the process for Council to make it clear that they want any large-site expansion need to be based on a solid economic development plan (beyond the generalities of the JEO document), at least in the spirit of State of Oregon recommended practices, that outlines specifically what industries would be attracted to what jobs, at what size and type of sites, with what wage profiles, that would in fact have the effect of raising median wages in Eugene.

b) Indicate to City staff that evaluation of potential inside-UGB industrial sites should be evaluated transparently with even-handed criteria, relative to potential outside-UGB sites.

This will help staff and community to avoid current unintended outcomes where work-to-date could:

I) Bring in hundreds of acres of large industrial sites for a goal of high-wage jobs, only to have them filled with low-job-density distribution and warehousing operations.

II) Dismiss sites inside the UGB due to wetlands, lot fragmentation, and existing uses, while highlighting potential sites outside the UGB that are even more complicated by extensive wetlands, highly fragmented lots, and/or extensive existing uses, including occupied residences.

It is important for us to get this right.

While the opportunity to get things right for Eugene around economic development has been pushed down the road the last few months, it is still well-within our collective reach.

Please help re-open the collaborative community conversation in this area which is so crucial to both business and residents, to economy and environment alike.


Kevin Matthews
Friends of Eugene
Artifice, Inc.

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