Clear Lake Development Strategy
The Clear Lake area is a recently adopted expansion of Eugene’s Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) needed for additional jobs, parks, and schools. This expansion adds 924 acres of land to Eugene's UGB between the western edge of the city and the Eugene Airport. The community envisions the Clear Lake area primarily as a green employment center offering large sites for low-impact manufacturing, light industrial uses, offices, commercial services, and health & technology uses. Also anticipated is a new Bethel School District elementary school and enhancements to Golden Gardens Park, a large community park adjacent to the existing Bethel neighborhood. Expansion of city infrastructure will provide roads, stormwater, and sewer services to these developments as they annex into the city. An area-wide green infrastructure system is planned to manage storm water, protect wetland and floodplain resources, and mitigate impacts to natural resources and the environment.
This expansion is the largest since the original adoption of the UGB in 1982. The types of employment sites included in this expansion are an important strategy to support the Regional Prosperity Economic Development Plan and the city’s economic development goals. A comprehensive analysis of areas outside the current UGB revealed few areas that fit the needed criteria for such sites.
The need for an expansion started with the identification of target industries that have higher than average wages and a high likelihood of locating or expanding in our community. Typically, these targeted industries require parcels greater than 10 acres and access to major transportation routes. After identifying land inside the UGB that satisfies these requirements, it was found that 11 more large sites were still needed, resulting in a UGB Expansion Analysis identifying areas for expansion to bring the industrial employment land necessary for economic development within the UGB.
The Clear Lake expansion incorporated extensive analysis, public outreach, and community meetings in addition to formal processes and amendments through the Eugene Planning Commission, City Council, and Lane County Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners. Once the local process was completed, the UGB Adoption Package went to the State for approval.
Tax lots contained within the newly expanded UGB, but outside the city limits are zoned Agricultural, continuing their pre-existing use. Upon annexation to the city, the following land use changes apply automatically:
- Updated Land Use Designations
- Clear Lake Overlay Zone preserves large development sites for light-medium industrial and campus employment development and addresses environmental justice-oriented concerns around the siting of additional industrial and employment uses in an area of existing concentration and in proximity to residents with moderate to higher rates of economic and social vulnerability.
- Water Quality Overlay Zone protects and improves the physical integrity and water quality function within and adjacent to otherwise unprotected waterways.
The CAS overlay currently encompasses the entire expansion area and stays unchanged.
Ecology & Environmental Sustainability
The community, through Envision Eugene, has highlighted our responsibility to protect, restore, and enhance natural resources. The entire Clear Lake expansion area contains 924 acres of land amidst active streams, canals, wetlands, and riparian corridors of the Willamette Valley, which are an invaluable asset to our local and regional ecosystems. The city of Eugene’s Stormwater Basin Master Plan provides area-wide guidance to manage stormwater runoff, protect local wetlands and floodplains, and mitigate detrimental impacts to our vibrant and cherished natural resources.
While wetlands are present throughout the entire Clear Lake expansion area, many are lower quality than those in other areas studied and are a potential asset for alternative stormwater functions or open space uses. According to the Goal 5 ESEE Analysis for Significant Wetlands and Riparian Corridors study, existing wetlands in areas north of Airport Road are of lower quality and create conflicts between wildlife and airport operations. Therefore, the focus is on protecting water quality and storage functions of wetlands and drainage channels through the /WQ Overlay Zone rather than protecting the area within existing boundaries of wetlands and conservation setback areas that have been significantly degraded as a result of farming practices.
Public Health, Schools, & Parks
According to a 2014 Environmental Justice Briefing, nearby heavy industry produces approximately 99% of Eugene’s toxic air emissions and the children of the Bethel School District experience asthma at nearly double the rate of children in other Eugene neighborhoods. In combination with appropriate riparian vegetation, greenspace plantings, and landscape requirements, the low-impact uses proposed create a built buffer between future industrial emissions and existing residential uses, limit the total amount of industrial emissions that will come out of the expansion area, and utilize natural systems to help purify toxins from the environment. Industrial toxins and their adverse health effects do not have boundaries, and safer and healthier industrial uses in the area comes as a benefit to all. Vegetation (especially trees) improves air quality and removes pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, and airborne particulates. They purify the air and remove pollutants, which can save money in long-term healthcare and associated costs. While improving air quality and reducing related respiratory illnesses, riparian vegetation can also reduce stress for people who live or work close to these areas.
A recent study determined a need for an additional school site in this area for the Bethel School District (BSD). The BSD has already purchased approximately 74 acres in the expansion area adjacent to the neighborhing Bethel neighborhood and has determined a need to develop approximate 50-60 acres for school use with the remaining wetland areas on their property conserved for educational and mitigation purposes, which would have positive social and environmental effects for the area.
Nearby residents have less access to parks and greenspace amenities than residents of other areas. The Clear Lake area will provide 222 acres of needed greenspace for these underserved residential neighborhoods. According to a recent feasibility study, there is a market for a large sports complex and the Golden Gardens Community Park has been identified as a potential location to provide large-scale recreational opportunities and accommodate large group activities. These parks typically include children’s play area, basketball courts, open play areas, picnic areas, restrooms, ball fields, pathways, trails, natural areas, on-site vehicle and bicycle parking, and transit access. The city of Eugene’s Parks, Recreation, & Open Space Vision Plan contains policy commitments to protect natural resources in park design that support a balance between planned park development and environmental conservation. Recreational facilities constructed in suitable areas of the site alongside restored natural features will enhance park users’ experience of and access to nature and amenities.
Jobs & Economic Growth
Eugene is a regional economic hub with forecasts calling for the city to add about 37,000 jobs for residents by 2032. Estimates show the Clear Lake area accommodating up to 3,000 of these jobs. Ensuring a 20-year supply of employment land can help contribute to Eugene’s role as a regional economic hub, help local and new businesses grow in Eugene rather than looking elsewhere, contribute to reducing unemployment, and increase the average wage of our residents. The area is relatively free of certain development constraints (e.g., floodplain, steep slopes) and embodies the necessary site characteristics for many of Eugene’s targeted industries:
- Clean Technology/Renewable Energy
- Environmental Services
- Waste Remediation
- Health & Wellness
- Specialized Manufacturing
- Software/Information Technology Services
- Food Processing & Manufacturing
Additionally, the Eugene Airport has recently undergone an Airport Master Plan process outlying their expansion needs over the next 20 years. The Clear Lake area will respond to these Master Plan needs in an ecologically and environmentally sensible way that enables sustainable development alongside the Airport capital construction phases as they come online. The Clear Lake area sits between this regional transportation hub and Downtown Eugene, effectively acting as a gateway between the two. Gateways can enhance the boundaries and edges that create psychological transitions between spaces. They delineate a sense of arrival into an area. A gateway, when effectively implemented, can offer much more than simply a threshold moment of arrival; it can create a sense of what is to come. By utilizing lush natural landscape elements, lighting, and signage, for example, a gateway can offer clues that visitors are entering an environmentally significant area containing contemporary technological enhancements.