[SEN-M] Monday, May 21, 2007 at 7:30PM - Amazon Headwaters Hearing!
matthews at artifice.com
Sun May 20 20:51:46 PDT 2007
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This is likely the single most important public hearing for the environment in the Amazon Headwaters for a decade. So I do hope you'll forgive me if this is the fifteenth (and sixteenth?) message you're getting on it!
*** Calling All Neighbors ***
Amazon Headwaters Hearing
Monday, May 21, 2007
Eugene City Council Chamber
This is THE public hearing, in front of the Eugene City Council, on the proposed ordinance to use eminent domain to buy the Beverly and Green properties at fair market value, for preservation as public open space.
Unlike the PUD hearings we've had over recent years on specific development applications, this is a political hearing rather than a technical one.
As a result, it is 100% relevant to come and speak from your heart about why you feel it is in the public interest for the City of Eugene to acquire these properties.
A four-page white paper laying out some reasoning in support of this action is provided below in plain text. It is also available in a formatted PDF document online at the neighborhood web site:
It may be useful for background and perspective, and you are very welcome to use any or all of it in your own testimony. And the key top-level headings from that paper are copied below.
Other background information has appeared in recent editions of the Southeast Neighborhood News (SENN).
SENN, March 2007 - An essay on the watershed view, photos, and other related news:
SENN, June, 2006 - Location map of Beverly and Green properties (page 3) and other news:
And for the detail-oriented, the proposed City ordinance itself is online at:
The next major step after Monday's public hearing will be the City Council vote on enacting it. That vote is currently scheduled for June 25, 2007. (The council vote in April to start this process was just 4 to 4, with the mayor breaking the tie in nature's favor.)
I do hope you can come Monday evening and bear witness as a supporter of Amazon Headwaters protection. If you are able, do come and speak up and let the council know your personal views! If you have friends in other neighborhoods who love the Amazon Creek Headwaters, it would be terrific to help them come and speak as well. It is important to demonstrate the city-wide support for headwaters preservation as strongly and directly as we can!
If you can come to just one public hearing in a ten year period, please let this one be it.
All best wishes,
541-514-4766 direct mobile (no messages)
541-345-7421 office and messages
White Paper on the Amazon Headwaters . Updated . 2007.0519
Why should Eugene take action to protect the Green and Beverly
properties in the Amazon Creek Headwaters?
Protecting these key connecting links in the Amazon Creek system is
critical to the public interest of the citizens and City of Eugene,
broadly and specifically, because:
1) Protecting the headwaters of Amazon Creek is vital to the water
quality and environmental health of the whole watershed.
>From a watershed view of the Amazon Creek ecosystem, which is the
defining geographic province for about 60% of the area of Eugene,
preserving the remaining fraction of ecologically intact headwaters
is critical. The remaining natural headwaters of our primary local
watershed are a core community asset. We have a responsibility to
preserve this core asset for future generations.
We have protected substantial portions of the wetlands in west
Eugene. We have protected the Amazon Greenway to the west and to
the south of the downtown area. Protecting the headwaters is
critical to realizing the environmental value of these other
These special remaining headwaters areas also include old growth
trees and oak savannah habitats which are some of highest quality
wildlife habitat in the metropolitan area, home to several rare and
sensitive species, and are important to preserve simply for these
This is the last chance to create a public green corridor for the
main channel of Amazon Creek to connect from the ridgeline to the
2) Major earthflows overrun and threaten both the Green and
LIDAR earth scanning by Sky Research out of Ashland, Oregon clearly
shows large active earthflows that would complicate and threaten
development in either property. One earthflow system originates
high on the western flank of Baldy, continuing down through the
middle of the Green property. Another earthflow originates high on
the north side of Spencer Butte itself, which has historically
flowed down the valley to overlay much of the Beverly property.
At the least, adequate engineering to accommodate development of
these steep, wet, unstable sites would be unusually expensive. At
the worst, the City could have significant liability for allowing
dwellings to be constructed in these known geological hazard areas.
3) Independent testing of soil and runoff samples has shown that
both properties contain substantial excess arsenic which could be
released into Amazon Creek by development processes.
Given that Amazon Creek already has too much arsenic by EPA
standards, causing significant new releases could trigger Federal
violations, as well as harm life downstream.
4) The properties have already been demonstrated to be
not-developable according to the wishes of the current owners.
The developers of both properties have had a fair chance to develop
under the City code, but have submitted excessive development plans
that have been denied through extensive and expensive public
The recent Green PUD application for the Amazon Creek Headwaters
Forest area was denied by the hearings official, then appealed to
the planning commission which upheld the denial.
The Beverlys have submitted development applications for the Amazon
Creek Headwaters Keystone area twice before, both denied. Their
latest application called the Deerbrook PUD was little-changed from
the previously denied plans, and after city staff again recommended
against approval of the application, in April, 2007 the application
5) Reasonable attempts have been made for willing-seller
The city has made repeated good faith offers in the past to buy some
or all of each site for storm water and natural resources protection
on a willing seller basis, but the developers have declined to
substantively negotiate, let alone sell.
Both properties are vacant, and were purchased by the current owners
simply as financial opportunities. In both cases there is no
current residential occupancy or active business occupancy which
would prevent the owners from being made whole by a public buy-out
at fair market value.
In both cases, the current market value buy-out price would be
substantially more than the purchase price paid by the current
owners, so in both cases a fair value buy-out should leave the
owners with significant capital gains.
6) Preservation of critical elements of our open space system and
natural ecological infrastructure is consistent with established
City of Eugene plans and policies.
In particular, Growth Management Policy 17 says, "Protect and
improve air and water quality and protect natural areas of good
habitat value through a variety of means...". The Metro Plan
Diagram has for years shown a habitat corridor to be preserved
connecting the Ridgeline park and the Amazon Greenway. Both of
these areas are bisected by Goal 5 waterways which would be damaged
Going back to the 1970s, when most of the south hills were still in
a natural undeveloped state, the community consensus of South Hills
Study outlined the important of upland forest preservation for all
of Eugene, as well as the inherent problems of developing on our
7) The impact of these conservation acquisitions on the local
inventory of residential buildable land within the Eugene Urban
Growth Boundary will be minimal.
Although the total area of these headwaters parcels is about 65
acres, once the patently non-buildable area of these properties --
Goal 5 stream corridors, active earthflows, BPA, EWEB, and other
public utility easements, excessively steep slopes, rare plant and
pre-European tree communities -- is accounted for, relatively few
acres of actually-buildable land remain. Even the developer Joe
Green, in City Council testimony, acknowledges that conservation as
parkland is the best use of more than half of his East Fork
headwaters Forest property.
Talk about a loss of 65 acres of buildable lands is simply not based
>From a larger perspective, this year marks the 20th since
professional fieldwork was started for Eugene's basic state-mandated
natural resources inventory -- and that first complete, legitimate
natural resources inventory of our upland habitat areas still
remains unfinished, to this day -- while residential land
inventories have been done and done again in the same time period.
The natural resources inventory work is ongoing in the form of the
South Ridgeline Habitat Study, but that will still not be completed
for a long time.
In recognition that natural resource inventories had not been
completed, the current residential lands inventory in Eugene already
includes allowances for anticipated natural resource set asides.
Since the current residential lands inventory is not
parcel-specific, it can always be debated which category applies to
any given parcel. But considering that the 65 acres of Amazon Creek
Headwaters in question are part of the single highest-rated
habitat-value area in the metropolitan area, it is not a reach to
consider that the already-existing natural resource allowances in
the inventory would apply to them most properly.
Over time, comprehensive integrated land use, transportation, and
environmental planning is required to provide for the public
interest in our overall landscape and infrastructure. Such planning
needs to stand on a foundation of well-established facts, and at the
appropriate time, an updated residential lands inventory, like the
initial natural resource inventory, needs to be completed.
However, the timely protection of a few dozen critical watershed
acres is quite a different issue from the city- or metro-wide
inventory updates regarding hundreds of thousands of acres.
Independently, each is essential to the long-term public interest.
Chaining them together , in contrast, would be pure politics.
8) Funding for a public buy-out is currently available.
Primary funding for public buy-out, expected to cost less than $2
million, is available now in the $7.75 million Ridgeline area
allocation in the 2006 Parks Bond Measure.
In addition, stormwater funds have already been allocated for stream
corridor acquisitions in each of these properties, and these
allocations should reduce any amount of parks bond funding required.
Grants from other state, federal, and private sources may also be
available to further supplement or replace parks bond funding.
9) The time to take action is now.
At least three generations of community members have worked
tirelessly for more than ten years, at great expense, toward the
protection of these fragile areas. These unique headwaters areas
are much more valuable to the community as they are now, for safety,
open space, special habitat, and water quality reasons, than they
would be if developed with new roads and a couple of hundred houses
that could be sited elsewhere, in a less costly, less dangerous, and
less sensitive site.
Virtually any other legal sites in the metropolitan area would be
less costly, less dangerous, and less sensitive than these
irreplaceable last remnants of the Amazon Creek Headwaters.
Despite their sensitivity, importance, and high public value as
natural open space, both of these properties are under imminent
threat of development. Right now, in fact, they are being degraded
by pre-development construction activities.
Using eminent domain with a "quick take" process, the City of Eugene
can take these properties out of jeopardy almost immediately, and
save them once and for all. As recently as April 9, 2007, the
Eugene City Council has considered use of eminent domain for
critical park land acquisition.
Just as previous generations in Eugene are honored today for their
foresight in preserving Hendricks Park and the upper parts of the
two buttes, so as time goes by, our children and theirs will only
value and honor the decision to save the Amazon Headwaters more and
-- Kevin Matthews with Southeast Neighbors and Friends of Eugene
Working to together to preserve the livability of our most
immediate surroundings, for all the people and creatures
therein, and for generations to come.
Please help save Eugene's threatened Pileated Woodpeckers
and Amazon Creek Otters! Support headwaters stewardship
and upland wildlife habitat protection.
Please help stop destructive infill development. Support
the South Hills Study, design standards, and design review.
Think globally - Act neighborly! (tm)
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