Update: Tonight-Monday, 7:30pm, 3/1306-Garage Hearing at ECC

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Update: Tonight-Monday, 7:30pm, 3/1306-Garage Hearing at ECC

Postby Kevin » Mon Mar 13, 2006 4:23 pm

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Here's an update with info from a public interest perspective for the
Whole Foods Garage Giveaway (WFGG) hearing tonight:

Whole Foods Garage Hearing(s) Tonight
Monday, 13 March, 2006 at 7:30pm
Eugene City Council Chamber (downtown at City Hall)

We had a fabulous community rally last Tuesday! Thanks to all!
More than 100 people came and heard a range of citizen speakers
express clear, passionate, and diverse viewpoints against this
garage giveaway proposal.

Now, after a late start, the Eugene Chamber of Commerce and Downtown
Eugene, Inc. (DEI) (and yes, that's really their name, no satire!)
are fighting back, calling out their base to testify tonight in favor
of the Garage Giveaway and for Whole Foods.

I hope YOU can come TONIGHT, bear witness while wearing a giant
"Stop The Garage" button (which we'll be passing out there), and if
you feel up to it, to speak your thoughts and feelings to the Eugene
City Council.

The city has indeed changed the hearing format from last week, so
all three of the WFGG-related hearings are now scheduled to be
rolled into one. That should make it easier for people who want to
simply speak from their heart, without having to fit it into a
specific technical slot. We need every possible citizen who can
come tonight and speak up for the public interest!

(There's also a hearing tonight on the PROS Project Plan (parks,
recreation, and open space). Apparently the sports facilities lobby
is calling out their base to ask for more facilities at the expense
of open space acquisition. While we don't want to divide any of the
potential parks bond supporters, the $20 million measure the City
Council has supported, for 90% acquisition of parks, as opposed to
parks development (like more sports fields) doesn't meet even the
most basic, urgent needs to save critical endangered green space
around town, such the Amazon Headwaters, westside ridgeline, and
northerly Willamette riversides. Be sure to sign up separately for
this hearing if you want to speak for open space acquisition)

Meanwhile, here's a point by point response to a Chamber of Commerce
letter with their points for supporting the garage giveaway:

> CHAMBER OF COMMERCE LETTER [plus responses, inserted]
Saturday, March 11, 2006 [c/o DEI]
Help for Downtown Eugene

I got this e-mail from the Eugene Chamber of Commerce, please help
them actually build a profitable business downtown that includes
accommodation for automobiles...

Background:
Whole Foods can be a catalyst for downtown?s revival.

Downtown Eugene is already reviving, with the new library and fire
station going strong, new apartment buildings well underway, and a
major city hall master planning process getting started. Developers
like Gerding Edlen (for the WFGG) and Connor and Woolley are not
suddenly champing to build downtown simply as a public service.
Good capitalists, they naturally want to profit from the revival
stimulated by the hot building economy and _our_ careful, positive
public investment.

> It will employ about 100 people.

Are the people of Eugene going to eat an estimated $46 million in
additional food annually because Whole Foods moves into town? No.
Whole Foods carries out their planned aggressive national growth policy
by targeting communities that already have strong local natural
food stores. Then they work to cannibalize that local market,
using their fancy brand name and deep pockets to capture established
business from the existing stores.

Along the way, this Texas-based publicly corporation has a
demonstrated history of both union breaking and cynical manipulation
of local media.

See for instance: http://www.buyblue.org/node/2182/view/ratings/tid/141
And: http://www.wholeworkersunite.org/
And at: http://www.buyblue.org/node/4214

"Here's the way I like to think of it," founder and CEO John Mackey
once said. "The union is like having herpes. It doesn't kill you,
but it¹s unpleasant and inconvenient and it stops a lot of people
from becoming your lover" (Business and Society Review, 6/22/92).

MORE ACCURATE:
Whole Foods will take about 100 jobs from local food providers.

> Whole Foods has been named one of Fortune?s 100 Best Companies to
> Work For for eight straight years.

Fortune Magazine represents the hard-core capitalist/owners
establishment. They don't care that Whole Foods is an aggressively
anti-union employer, much like Wal-Mart.

Paul Hawken wrote this in a letter to Green Money Journal:
http://www.organicconsumers.org/organic ... 032403.cfm

"Why tout Whole Foods and Wild Oats and then talk of boycotting
Philip Morris when in fact Whole Foods and Wild Oats continue to buy
from Philip Morris? Why not boycott Whole Foods or Wild Oats until
they start getting their values in alignment with corporate social
responsibility? It is my understanding that Whole Foods would not
support a boycott. What does that mean? Is this neo-liberal
economic theory at work? Why not discuss founder John Mackey's
views on big box retailers and why he supports Wal-Mart and other
'category killers' who contribute to traffic, sprawl, and the loss
of union jobs?"

MORE ACCURATE:
Whole Foods basks in the glow of a massively greenwashed corporate
image while exploiting their workers, suppliers, and customer
communities to generate large profits for shareholders.

> The 52,000-square-foot store will provide a new entry into downtown.

This regionally-targeted store project would put a parking garage
with more than 100 feet of car park street frontage at the entry to
downtown's "great civic street", contradicting the city's own
policies to encourage active uses on the street to support
pedestrians.

This project would require the closing of two active alleys,
reducing pedestrian walkability and making auto maneuvering around
the one-way High and 8th Ave. nexus even more difficult. Four
historic buildings and many established trees would be lost.

The city has provided no traffic analysis on the effects of putting
this drive-to store smack at the end of the Ferry Street Bridge
viaduct.

MORE ACCURATE:
The WFGG would clog up the entrance to downtown, uglifying the civic
streetscape and would cause unexplored traffic impacts.

> Whole Foods is providing its own parking.
> Approximately 200 parking spaces are part of the Whole Foods
> development that is all privately funded.
> The spaces will be built on top of the store.

Let's see. If they are satisfied with the parking over the
store, then why is it a requirement that an additional garage be
provided?

MORE ACCURATE:
Whole Foods developer Gerding Edlen is hypocritical. Either
sit with your own parking and build the project, or admit you want
the City to provide more parking. You can't have it both ways at
once.

> Whole Foods is receiving no public subsidy for its development.

Simply false.

MORE ACCURATE:
The City of Eugene is proposing to relocate and/or upgrade utilities
at our cost to support the project, plus giving the Guistinas the
vacated alley space for free.

> The city of Eugene is developing a 260-space garage adjacent to Whole
> Foods to act as an incentive for further redevelopment, serve the
> federal courthouse, and satisfy the demand for parking in the
> downtown?s northeast end that has been part of city planning for a
> decade. The projects work in tandem to save money and provide
> sufficient parking to meet the area's need.

Nothing like this is in the City's downtown plan, or was talked
about before the developers asked for it. It is simply ridiculous
to block the entry to downtown with a parking garage to support a
courthouse which sits across state highway 99 - and has a huge open
space right next to it to meet any actual/immediate parking needs.

MORE ACCURATE:
This part of downtown, like downtown overall, has plenty of parking.
Building more parking like this would actually overload the area
with more lifeless and depressing car-housing, directly
contradicting city policies to encourage a pedestrian-oriented
downtown.

> All of the project will be competitively bid except for the general
> contractor.
> The fees for the general contractor on a project of this size will
> vary by as little as one-half to one percent of the total cost. In
> other words, the public savings achieved through traditional
> competitive bidding vs. the proposed Construction Manager/General
> Contractor method is minimal, and doesn?t take into account the
> additional savings that CM/GC contracting can achieve through value
> engineering, efficiency, and subcontracts.

Misleading and confused. It is basically irrelevant to the public
how a developer prices private work once the public has promised to
buy the finished building at a set price.

There is no contradiction between competitive bidding and CM/GC
contracting. If it wanted to, the City could easily do competitive
bidding for a CM/GC contract. (Much of the architecture community
frowns on this approach because design issues tend to get lost
beneath the raw dollars.)

The City and WFGG supporters continue to talk about cost savings
from no-bid contracting, yet they haven't actually documented any
cost savings. A City-provided estimate suggests the proposed
construction costs are actually above average.

MORE ACCURATE:
The claims of costs savings by the City and WFGG supporters are
simply theoretical assertions, while no robust "invoice price"
information or solid comparables are available. Even your average
car dealer would be more honest these days!

> Developer Gerding Edlen has a long history of working with its
> general contractor, Lease Crutcher Lewis, LLC.
> It is not unusual for developers to require use of their own general
> contractor. In fact there is a state process that allows for
> exemptions due to the benefits provided, including time and cost
> savings and the ability to consider factors other than price, such as
> quality.
> Several local projects ? including the federal courthouse, Autzen
> Stadium expansion, the Moshofsky Center and the Juvenile Justice
> Center ? did not competitively bid the general contractor.

Picking the same guys you always work with is the simple essence of
favoritism.

Private projects can contract however whatever they want -- but
favoritism in the awarding of public contracts is illegal. It is
especially and remarkably inappropriate to propose awarding no-bid
contract to the same entity that requests and would benefit from a
project. None of the supposed comparables (which do not necessarily
show what is implied anyway) represent a developer-proposed project.

MORE ACCURATE:
It is concretely improper to offer a no-bid construction deal to a
private developer, and its favorite general contractor, ESPECIALLY
WHEN THE PROJECT CONCEPT ORIGINATED WITH A RULING-FAMILIES-AND-
COUNCIL-CONNECTED DEVELOPER IN THE FIRST PLACE.

> Whole Foods is the furthest along of several proposed downtown
> projects, including ORI, City Hall and the Broadway District. Ground
> breaking this year is still possible. How the city handles this
> project will set the tone and momentum for other downtown
> revitalization projects.

EXACTLY:
This project may indeed set a direction: Are we going to build up
downtown willy-nilly yet again, as driven by the whims of crony
capitalism? Or are we actually going to hold out to get downtown
projects that are truly sustainable, that honestly pay their own
way, and that support positive local businesses in a walkable,
pedestrian and resident-friendly downtown?

Downtown Eugene is a good and vital place right now - outside of those
areas where giant owners are purposefully blighting it. To sell out
our downtown and our values in a headlong rush would be a simply-
classic recipe for disaster.

> While I agree that Kiva, Sundance, and probably A-Cappella are doomed
> when and if Whole Foods open. That's not a reason to deny a building
> permit.
>
> We're big-C Capitalists here.
> Bob

Yep, Crony Capitalism it is. Wow. Still, we've got to give DEI and
the Chamber some credit here. They've got the guts to not pretend
crocodile tears over killing off some great local stores - stores
that are vital to making Eugene this place we all love - a place
that is famous worldwide for its local character, livability, and
sound environmental values. On the other hand, we're simply not
talking about denying a building permit. (Why even say that?)

We're talking about authorizing corrupt-looking public contracting,
and multiple, substantial public subsidies (even including a
proposed diversion of ratepayer stormwater funds - collected for
instance for protecting threatened streams and wetlands - to
subsidize project utility work) for a self-defeating,
wrongly-located and essentially unnecessary parking garage, rushed
forward to support a notoriously predatory, greenwashing, big-box
retailing Texas-based international corporation.

*** Dear friends, let's make sure our elected officials hear how WE feel about this! ***

SEE YOU AGAIN TONIGHT!

Monday, 13 March, 2006, at 7:30pm in the Eugene City Council Chamber, downtown at City Hall ( http://www.greatbuildings.com/buildings ... _Hall.html ). (Kitty-corner to the proposed parking garage site.)

All best wishes,

Kevin Matthews
Friends of Eugene
matthews@artifice.com

--
Can you join with Friends of Eugene to help save our city's creeks
and ridges and rivers, for birds and fish and trees and otters and
people, too? For affordable housing and urban space and green space
and greater health and happiness?

This special place needs all our hope, help, and love together to
create real solutions to West Eugene transportation concerns, to reach
toward social and political and environmental equity, to support all
the efforts for a safe, sustainable, livable Eugene!

Please help, join, and contribute online:
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--
updated with minor corrections 2006.0313.1400 KMM
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