[NLC] thoughts on Envision Eugene - hearing tonight - Tuesday 2/22/2011
pconte at picante-soft.com
Tue Feb 22 12:27:50 PST 2011
I join Kevin's encouragement to neighborhood leaders and residents to
express their views either in person at tonight's hearing or by one
or both of the following means:
* Send an e-mail to:
<mailto:MayorAndCC at ci.eugene.or.us>MayorAndCC at ci.eugene.or.us
* Respond to the survey at: http://www.envisioneugene.org
As Kevin says, the process is "hard to see and not easy to describe."
Eugene<http://www.envisioneugene.org/> Draft Proposal" is notable for
not having any accompanying maps or quantitative findings. Thus, for
example, it's impossible to understand how the following strategy
would be accomplished or what the implications would be for neighborhoods:
Meet all of the 20-year multi-family housing and commercial (office
and retail) lands needs within the existing UGB, through development
of vacant lands and also focusing new development and redevelopment
in core commercial areas, corridor areas and downtown.
If this statement were phrased as: "Our goal is to meet all of the
20-year multi-family housing and commercial (office and retail) lands
needs within the existing UGB," this statement might have little more
meaning than simply to follow State rules for complying with Goal 10,
i.e., by first looking for capacity inside the current UGB.
However, if this statement is read as "We will meet all of the
20-year multi-family housing and commercial (office and retail) lands
needs within the existing UGB," this statement is not supported by
adequate accompanying evidence.
Note carefully that I'm not saying there isn't such evidence, but
rather that the evidence doesn't accompany the "draft proposal," and
therefore the public cannot examine the sufficiency of the evidence
or the implications of Council approving of this conclusion.
Similarly, it would be premature for Council to "approve" any of the
other quantitative conclusions that don't have accompanying evidence
or assessment of impacts. These include:
* Meet all of the 20-year commercial land needs (office and
retail) within the existing urban growth boundary (UGB). (p. 1)
* Re-designate 100 to 200 acres of marginal industrial lands
(generally 2 acres or less in size) to commercial lands. (p. 1)
While I have no complaint with Kevin's promoting the list of "talking
points" as talking points, at this stage I don't believe Council or
the public has been presented adequate analysis to determine the
appropriate housing mix or whether W. 11th Ave is among the best
choices for redevelopment.
I'm aware of the arguments in support of these talking points; but,
for example, I think there are stronger arguments for W. 6th/7th
Aves. as a much better choice for redevelopment. Thus, the subject is
ripe for talking, but not for a Council decision.
I would suggest that the most important focii at this stage of the
"hard to see and not easy to describe" EE process are the
"neighborhood livability" and "natural resources" pillars and
accompanying strategies, as well as strategies under other pillars
that address "neighborhood livability", including (but not limited to):
* Develop and apply design guidelines, in collaboration with
Infill Compatibility Standards (ICS) to address compatibility, while
increasing flexibility in land use regulations to achieve desired
outcome. (p. 3)
* 3.Protect adjacent neighborhoods and provide housing options by
creating transition areas between commercial and higher density
residential uses and lower-density, single-family neighborhoods in
accordance with the goals and recommendations of the Infill
Compatibility Standards and Opportunity Siting Task Teams. (p. 6)
There's a risk of becoming complacent about neighborhood livability
because there's what appears to be an unambiguous "pillar" in the
"draft proposal." However, this is the time to show Council community
support for this principle, and not let it be undermined the way this
principle was in previous City-wide planning efforts (e.g., as
produced the Growth Management Policies).
One of the critical elements of the "draft proposal" that needs
attention is the first strategy under the "neighborhood livability"
pillar, which states:
Do not increase densities in neighborhoods above those allowed by
existing regulations, or undertake new strategies that impact
neighborhoods unless they are in accordance with the goals and
recommendations of the Infill Compatibility Standards and Opportunity
Siting Task Teams.
In some areas of SUNA, WUN, SCCO, RRCO and others, "existing
regulations" allow seriously incompatible development. As stated,
"undertake new strategies that impact neighborhoods" covers one set
of potential problems, e.g., amending the code to reduce minimum lot
sizes as an "efficiency" measure would conflict with this strategy.
However, this strategy also needs to make clear that the CIty will
not assume housing density in neighborhoods that is higher than the
current built-out density. Without this provision, the assumptions in
EE could lock out future code amendments to appropriately protect the
This is just one example of why it's so critical that any proposals
adopted by Council include accompanying maps and analysis.
Council should not be approving housing strategies until there are
publicly available maps that show the assumed areas and densities of
housing capacity associated with the various strategies.
Several CRG members, including myself, have repeatedly pointed this
out to staff, but to little or no effect.
At 07:14 AM 2/22/2011, you wrote:
>Dear Friends and Neighbors,
>Following are some personal thoughts regarding the emerging Envision
>Eugene plan, and the important public hearing on it this evening:
> Envision Eugene Public Hearing
> 7:30pm on Tuesday
> February 22, 2011
> City Council Chamber
> Eugene City Hall
>It's hard to know what to say, because there is so much in play and
>so much at stake. And the process is in an emergent, in between
>stage which is hard to see and not easy to describe.
>I think the bottom line is this:
>It is really important for the Eugene City Council to hear directly
>from as many people as possible, in your own words, just how much
>you care that we retain the current urban growth boundary (UGB), and
>that we focus our growth over the next twenty years (from a
>population of 179,000 to a projected population of 213,000) in the
>core commercial areas of Eugene, focusing in the inner half of the
>urban growth area with redevelopment in commercial zones with
>high-quality mixed-use buildings, to protect established
>neighborhoods and remaining natural habitat areas, while increasing
>overall housing affordability, walkability, and livability.
>The good news is that this essential vision, in which Eugene clearly
>changes direction in how we plan for growth, so that we really do
>start to grow inward *where appropriate* and become a stronger
>community in the process, is entirely compatible with the emerging
>vision in the "seven pillars" document that the City Council is
>being asked to endorse and fill in.
>Our challenge is that many forces of business-as-usual, in public
>agencies, in private industry, in development lobbying groups, and
>even among environmental activists have great potential to water
>down, divert, deflect, and ultimately compromise the plan to where
>it won't lead to the change we need.
>WHAT WILL MAKE THE DIFERENCE
>Most of the Eugene City Councilors haven't been to the public open
>houses and forums; haven't been to long neighborhood discussions,
>haven't been through more than a dozen day-long meetings as part of
>the COmmunity Resource Group (CRG).
>Some of them use words that don't show they grasp yet the essential
>difference between finding a good compromise - splitting the
>difference between opposing views so no one wins, no one loses - and
>what we can actually do here, which is forge a new, win-win outcome
>for the community overall and in parts.
>This is not about compromise. It is about change, making the right
>change, the change we need in these challenging times.
>Most of the Eugene City Council will not cast their votes on
>Envision Eugene based on finely-argued technical details - even
>though Friends of Eugene makes a huge investment of effort to help
>the process get things right technically.
>Conservative or progressive, they are not technical planners. They
>will respond more to their sense of the community, than to the fine
>details of the arguments.
>If the Eugene City Council doesn't hear from the voices that support
>decisive change to a truly sustainable growth pattern, the tendency
>will be to slouch back toward the false safety of business-as-usual.
>If the Eugene City Council does hear from you, firm and clear, that
>now is the time to walk our talk and make a decisively sustainable
>Envision Eugene plan... THEN they will be willing and able to hear
>the technical details it really takes to forge the effective plan
>for prosperous change that our community needs.
>You need to make it safe for the Eugene City Council to step up and
>take the risk of decisive change, from plans that sound sustainable,
>to plans that really are sustainable.
>- To plans that FIRMLY protect our established neighborhoods,
>surrounding farmland, and remaining natural habitat areas.
>- To plans that will gradually convert our sprawling, low density
>commercial areas, downtown and across the inner half of the UGB,
>into more productive, livable, walkable mixed-use urban neighborhoods.
>- To plans that will reduce our vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT) by
>putting growth in those commercial areas in the inner half of the
>UGB, so we have a chance of reducing our community carbon footprint.
>- Ask for a housing mix of 40% single-family-detached, 60%
>everything else. This is the right mix demographically, it will fit
>the real housing market, and we need it to stay inside the UGB.
>- Ask for no UGB expansion for residential lands. Yes, we CAN make this work!
>- Ask for firm, unwavering, protections for our established neighborhoods.
> - Transition zones between mixed-use and residential areas must
> not add density to the residential side unless the residents and
> the neighborhood associations want it.
> - The "Opportunity Siting" process must not add density in
> residential zoned areas unless the residents and the neighborhood
> associations want it.
>- Ask that as we densify, it becomes essential to provide parks,
>protect our inside-the-UGB natural areas, and to always work toward
>improving residential affordability.
>- Remind the Council that the consensus "New Vision for West Eugene"
>by the West Eugene Collaborative full-spectrum community project
>provides a clear roadmap for how to grow better, not just bigger.
>You can read the current draft pillars, the current proposal to the
>City Council, online at:
>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.
>The West Eugene Collaborative consensus report is a really important
>piece, painting out a broad, well-balanced overview representing
>many interests, is online here:
>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
>Another background piece at the technical planning level 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'
>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.
>We'll keep working on all this stuff over the coming weeks and months.
>Tonight is a chance to say what you feel, to the eight-plus-one
>people with the actual hands-on votes on Eugene's future.
>with best wishes,
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