This was a momentous week including major steps forward in long-held goals as well as big public conversations.
The city finalized the purchase of the EWEB property, which now opens the way for more specific plans and timelines. Several pieces are coming together at once – continued discussions with Williams/Dame about their draft plans as well as a separate request issued by the city for re-envisioning and renovating the historic steamplant. Council will hear more about this on Monday, the 23rd.
On Thursday we launched “PeaceHealth Rides”. This bike share system is the outcome of a collaboration between the city, LTD, and the UO to offer short-term bike rentals to enable people to pedal between campus, downtown and Whiteaker. PeaceHealth stepped forward as the title sponsor. May is “Bike Month” and will offer many opportunities for people to become familiar with this new link in our transportation system.
In addition to these signature accomplishments, council hosted a robust night of public hearings on Monday. First up, three speakers addressed the amendments and additions to our ordinance governing Transportation Network Companies (eg Uber and Lyft). Council will vote on these changes including background checks, vehicle inspections and, and insurance on Monday, the 23rd.
We heard from 56 speakers about our proposed code amendments governing Secondary Dwelling Units. These amendments are the first of two phases to bring the city code into compliance with SB 1051 enacted by the Oregon legislature last year. The intent of this legislation is to help remove barriers to the construction of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU), which Eugene code has called Secondary Dwelling Units (SDU). Council heard many perspectives roughly falling into two categories: those who were concerned that the phased approach is too little and too slow a response to this state law; and those who objected to the speed of the process and were concerned that neighborhood voices have not been heard or heeded.
Our next step is to vote on the first phase on May 14th. In brief, the code changes clarify where ADU.s are allowable, responding to the requirement of SB 1051, that they be permitted in all R-1 zoned properties, incorporating the name change from SDU to ADU; and allowing two ADU’s on property owned by communities of faith. This was in direct response to churches which are eager to provide affordable housing to families.
As recommended by the Planning Commission, Council will quickly turn to the second phase of changes with a meeting in June. My plan is to invite neighborhood representatives from neighborhood associations and other constituent groups to discuss with staff and council specific challenges or outcomes related to height, setbacks, building size, owner-occupancy and parking. Council will move with deliberation to be in compliance with the state legislative timeline of July 1st.
I want to close with a shout-out to the high school students from across Lane County who are planning this year’s “Pink Prom” set for May 12th. The Pink Prom is an alternative to traditional proms that celebrates LGBTQ teens. I was invited to their planning session and left smiling and hopeful. The group radiated optimism, enthusiasm, and fun.