This was a quiet week for Council, which doesn’t hold meetings during the first week of the month. I expect next week to be relatively quiet as well. Councilors Taylor, Semple and Evans will all be attending the National League of Cities conference.
On Monday we held our first budget committee session. This was a preparatory workshop to give committee members a chance to make specific requests regarding budget issues and information that we would like to have on hand or before budget deliberations begin in May. Not surprisingly, housing, homelessness and public safety topped the list, mirroring the concerns shared in the Council goal setting workshops last month.
On Wednesday, I listened to the keynote address by UO professor Mary Wood to high school students participating in a Leadership in Action conference focused on climate change and social justice. A boomer who came of age during the Vietnam war, Prof. Wood urged the students to action with the comment, “The military draft mobilized my generation. Climate change is your draft.”
On Thursday, I drove to Portland to meet Mayor Ted Wheeler and his staff to talk about their strategies for addressing both housing and homelessness, and had the chance to tour one of Portland’s shelters for women and couples. It is inspiring – Portland has a challenge as massive as ours, and more resources to bring to bear. They are currently spending $21 million annually to provide a range of housing and services. We won’t be able to match that; but our projects including car camping, rest stops and Opportunity Village are models they would like to copy. We’ll all keep learning from one another and continue to work together.
Finally, my email has been deluged with messages from UO students upset by the recent spate of robberies and the absence of ridesharing options to get home safely at night. Here’s a reminder of where we are: Council has directed staff to create an amended ordinance to incorporate changes to the background checks and insurance requirements for drivers. That draft ordinance will come back for a public hearing once it is complete.