A month has passed since my last blog. In that time I was called away to tend to my mother in NY and connected remotely to council and budget meetings. Last week, I attended the Boston Climate Summit followed by the US Conference of Mayors. I returned in time to preside at Monday’s council meeting this week.
A quick recap:
Council has held two work sessions regarding Secondary Dwelling Units (SDUs) to comply with Senate Bill 1051. They have taken a conservative route: approving an ordinance to change all reference in Eugene code of Secondary Dwelling Units to be renamed Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU), and adopted the state’s definition of ADUs in order to ensure that Eugene language matches state language. After long discussion spanning the two meetings, council approved the expansion of the areas of the city that permit ADUs, including agricultural, R-2, R-3, and R-4 land; but carved an exemption for Jefferson Westside and Chambers neighborhoods which already allow additional dwellings in R-2.
This is not the end of this deliberation. Council has agreed to a second phase of discussions about the design and siting criteria, also including questions of owner occupancy and parking requirements associated with ADUs. I proposed to initiate this conversation as a workshop on June 11th in the hope that we might be farther along before SB 1051 becomes law on July 1st, but it is clear that we cannot move to this second phase that quickly. I will participate in a conversation about the best process going forward at the Neighborhood Leadership Council meeting on June 24th.
The work on ADUs is one piece of a larger conversation about housing availability and affordability. We have parallel policy conversations about barriers to housing as a follow up to the proposed Construction Excise Tax; the beginning of a conversation about Clear and Objective Standards, Urban Reserves, and growth monitoring. The challenge will be to orchestrate so many concurrent public involvement processes that are both inclusive, timely, and respectful of citizens’ capacity to attend meetings.
We are not alone. In the three days of the US Conference of Mayors, I attended five different meetings that addressed housing and homelessness. I am excited about two future potential collaborations: first, working with the West Coast Alliance of Mayors to advocate for federal support for solutions to homelessness; and second, coordinating with a new group, Mayors and CEOs for Housing Investment, that aims to promote public/private partnerships to leverage more investment in housing.
And finally, this week Eugene was fortunate to host Paul Hawken, author and visionary, who presented his work Project Drawdown, an action list of 100 ways we can reverse global warming, which is explained in his book titled “Drawdown.” Here’s the good news: most of the work we should do to reverse global warming is work we should do anyway. For example, strategies number six and seven are educate girls and provide family planning.