More Dialog on Eugene Downtown Plan

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More Dialog on Eugene Downtown Plan

Postby Kevin » Tue Mar 14, 2006 8:10 pm

Dear John,

Thanks for your references! This is useful dialog, and I appreciate your help in seeing better where you are coming from.

We should note that the adopting ordinance for the Downtown Plan clarifies that, "The implementation strategies in the Eugene Downtown Plan are recognized as ways in which to implement the policies, but they are not adopted as City policy." (Section 3). The project lists are subordinate to those strategies, being listed in each case as, "Examples of possible projects that address the implementation strategies."

Setting that briefly aside for discussion purposes, to me the east-side garage reference you cite describes a potential garage in a general area, but does not place it at any specific location. (The big circle #7 on the 'dozen development areas map, plan p45, clearly does not refer to the site in question here.)

So it might be accurate to draw from these points that the strategy suggests the idea of _a_ garage, but it seems it would be rather an overstatement to claim the plan _calls_for_ a garage, and certainly it does not call for a garage specifically on this site. *

So what does the downtown plan say about where to put such a garage? As you note, it is flexible - it really doesn't say anything directly about this site - but it does provide relevant policy guidelines.

And for comparison, that is what Friends of Eugene is looking at: several Downtown Plan policies - which are actual adopted City policy - which, taken together with their explanatory language, seem to point counter to placing a parking garage on the _particular_site_ proposed on a 'great civic street,' intended to connect with the riverfront:

III. Great Streets
1. Emphasize Broadway, Willamette Street, 5th and 8th Avenues as
Great Streets through public improvements and development
guidelines. Include portions of these streets as follows:
- Broadway between Lincoln and Hilyard
- 8th Avenue between Willamette Street and the Willamette
2. Strongly encourage the location of significant municipal,
county, state and federal buildings along 8th Avenue.

IV. Special Places
1. Enhance public places throughout downtown through the careful
design of civic buildings, streetscapes, parks and plazas.
Include public art and other elements to create special places
for all ages.
2. Connect special places downtown with enhanced street designs...
to create an inviting and memorable route through downtown.
3. ... Improve connections between downtown and nearby nature areas.

IX. Getting Around Downtown
2. Promote and support alternative modes and accessibility through
strategic planning and public investment.
3. Enhance functional designs for streets, sidewalks and related
public improvements with carefully chosen design elements,
including materials, alignments, plantings, and streetscape

In fact, what the plan demands for Eugene's identified great streets, far from the City building whatever pedestrian-hostile infrastructure the developer du-jour happens to request, is that the City should be proactively defining our own "development guidelines" for these streets, in accord with the totality of plan policies.

If such development guidelines were now in place, I am confident they would point away from enfronting great streets with garages.

Is there a real need for the additional parking? I'll allow it is certainly possible that a robust parking analysis and progressive overall parking plan might support that conclusion. But until that kind of work is in place, the stated need for parking is truly based on more on faith than on fact. That is not good enough for Friends of Eugene, for some design professionals, or for many, many other local citizens.

If at some point there is actually a well-documented need for additional strucctured parking, should that parking be placed enfronting a designated great street? To quote the soft-spoken terms of Alan Jacobs in his book, "Great Streets" (p306, parking summary):

"Though present on more streets than not, auto parking
in great amounts, is not a characteristic of great
streets. They seem to do well without 'enough'."

Jacobs also says (Great Streets, p312):

"Places to walk, physical comfort, definition,
qualities that engage the eyes, complementarity, and
good maintenance are physical characteristics of all
great streets, but far from all streets that have them
are great. More is required: what I have been calling

"Beyond the functional purpose of permitting people
to get from one place to another and to gain access
to property, streets - most assuredly the best
streets - can and should help to do other things:
bring people together, help build community, cause
people to act and interact, to achieve together
what they might not alone."

At this level, the broad citizenry of our small city may better grasp an essence than some city planners who have to steep in the details every day.

Thanks again for the discussion. While we are necessarily engaged with the current downtown plan as adopted, Friends of Eugene also looks forward to opportunities for the community to redress the impacts of the heavy and non-representative Chamber of Commerce bias under which the current Downtown Plan was assembled.

An updated downtown plan, more specific, more visionary, and based on a much more inclusive community consensus, like the consensus some community leaders have touched on in the Jobs and Land Use Roundtable, or like that developed with the help of community planning process facilitators like Fregonese Calthorpe Associates, will help cut the crony out of crony capitalism - and will employ more and better architects, like you guys, to help build up the right kind of downtown Eugene.

Best wishes,

Kevin Matthews
President, Friends of Eugene
Editor in Chief, ArchitectureWeek

* Ironically, it seems the Downtown Plan gets it both ways at once: It does contain enough on a east side parking garage to support David Hinkley's suggestion that it's not the unanticipated idea necessary to authorize a supplemental budget, yet the plan doesn't site the garage so as to support Mike Sullivan's public statements that we're simply implementing the plan.

On Tue, 14 Mar 2006 09:47:58 -0800, John Rowell wrote:
> Dear Kevin,
> Thanks for taking the city plan seriously. It's a good document:
> visionary, flexible, concrete–the city and community did a good job.
> In the Downtown plan see Page 40: "A key strategy is to foresee,
> plan, and direct developments. . .where planned developments are
> likely to occur. In downtown, development around the Federal
> Courthouse. . ." etc.
> See page 41 under Projects, last bullet "Construct a new parking
> garage to support the east side of downtown and the new Courthouse
> district."
> You can say it's on the wrong side of the street, but I think it's
> clever that it's on the side biased toward the downtown core. It's in
> the right place. It will also force the city to make a decent
> crossing for safety reasons. Aesthetics rarely rule the day.
> Why a big market? See Page 7: Strong Regional Center
> Why work with developers? See Page 11 Building Partnerships,
> Capitalize on Development Opportunities. Note big circle 7 at
> Broadway and High on Page 45.
> I interpret this to support the kind of development proposed. It says
> nothing about not partnering with non-local businesses. That would be
> a very foolish message indeed.
> Of course any planning document is going to be somewhat flexible to
> allow responsiveness to opportunity and can be interpreted to fit
> your image of the world (see the Oregon experiment). I'm all for
> aggressively growing the in city inward, not at the boundary. It's
> hard and expensive, but it's the core of the downtown plan.
> Respectfully,
> John
> John Rowell, Principal
> Rowell Brokaw Architects, PC
> v 541 485-1003
> f 541 485-7344
> cell 541 954-4326
> On Mar 14, 2006, at 1:33 AM, Kevin Matthews wrote:
>> Dear John,
>> Nice to see you participating in local development politics Monday
>> evening. You and Greg could have gotten double duty from the effort
>> if you'd mentioned you were local architects!
>> I was surprised, though, to hear what I thought I heard in your
>> comments to the City Council during the hearing - a statement that
>> the proposed parking garage is in the Eugene Downtown Plan, and that
>> to fail to proceed with the project would be a failure of planning
>> follow-through.
>> You spoke with palpable conviction on the importance of leadership
>> to see things through.
>> Yet I re-read the Downtown Plan on Sunday just to double-check, and
>> I don't find anything in there indicating a garage on the proposed
>> site. In fact, as would seem fairly obvious, I see several stated
>> policies that would motivate against putting a parking garage on one
>> of the "great streets", especially on a gateway block.
>> I'm really very curious, are we looking at the same downtown plan?
>> Is there something there that I'm not seeing? If so, could you
>> perhaps share the specific reference in the plan to this parking
>> garage, to help me see what I'm missing?
>> Sincerely,
>> Kevin Matthews
>> Friends of Eugene
>> --
>> Together it is within our reach:

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!

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