It was a quiet week for council, which doesn’t meet the first week of the month, but a big week given the election. The good news is that Oregon voters aligned with Eugene -- supporting Measure 102 that gives the city an opportunity to partner with developers -- both commercial and nonprofit -- to support the construction of affordable housing; and opposing Measure 105 that would have repealed the 1987 state anti-profiling statute.
On the local front, coverage in the Register Guard about homelessness and city hall has prompted email traffic both to me and council. Regarding the opinion piece on Wednesday that suggested that the city has a homelessness problem because we make no demands on people to get their lives together is completely off-base. I appreciated Dan Bryant’s response today. In fact, providers of services to the unhoused in this community are extremely effective in helping people stabilize their lives. The fact that we have so many folks living outdoors is not because we are lenient (or don’t care, as some have alleged), it is because we don’t have enough services to meet the need, which is growing at a rate of 130 individuals monthly. Council will continue to have conversations about our investment. The budget committee reviews our annual support for the Human Services Commission, the multijurisdictional body that allocates public funds, including $1million from the city, to support ShelterCare, St. Vinnie’s, Catholic Community Services and many others.
Regarding city hall, council will hear more about the town square vision at our meeting on Tuesday night (Monday is a holiday, so we’re meeting a day later); and will also consider the option on the EWEB property. This moment has re-opened the conversation about EWEB as a potential city hall site. As it stands, the council is committed to building on the butterfly lot, a path that has been cleared by the legal decision on the proposed land swap with the county. In 2016, council made the decision that Plan A is to build on the butterfly lot; Plan B to build at the original city hall site Council rejected EWEB for several reasons: it is likely to cost more to refurbish and repurpose than building a new city hall; and the presence of city hall in the center of town supports our revitalization efforts to create a vibrant and safe urban core. We are deeply invested in increasing public access to, enjoyment of, the riverfront as we create a new park and public plaza. The EWEB building and plaza will remain as attractive features no matter who ultimately occupies the building. That said, much more information is coming and there will be many opportunities for people to weigh in.
As for other activities of the week, I enjoyed participating in the open house for the Trauma Healing Project, who have relocated to 1100 Charnelton in a building that was originally the abbey for St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Today, I drove out to Camp Alma for the transfer and dedication of this former Lane County work camp into a rehabilitation program for veterans recovering from homelessness, addiction, and mental health issues. Both organizations speak volumes about our capacity and will to help one another.