Last weekend was filled with highs. I was proud to see so many people assembled for the Women’s March; moved by the Sunday afternoon dedication of the MLK Jr. mural on the south wall of the First Christian Church; astonished by a musical performance at the Korean Church later that evening in Springfield in honor of Korean War veterans and Korean adoptees and their families; and inspired by Monday’s MLK march and gathering.
On Tuesday, Council joined the Lane Board of Commissioners in a joint meeting to review the Shelter Feasibility and Homelessness Study by the Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC). This report offers our community a strategic plan to guide our investments in staffing and program coordination as well as a permanent shelter. Our first step is to form a steering committee including electeds, staff and nonprofit representatives that will advise on the implementation of the 10 recommendations. I intend to sit on that committee; and we will get to work quickly. The heavy lift will be funding, and much of that burden rests on the county -- but the plan calls for improving and expanding existing services, notably the Coordinated Entry System through which people access services. Improvements can be phased-in over time; will include streamlined processes; and may ultimately save our community money that we now spend in public safety and emergency services.
On Wednesday, council reviewed and approved a motion to direct staff to write code language for eight “Clear and Objective” standards. These are critical but wonky standards that clarify how and where housing can be developed. The revised standards cover issues including retention or replacement of trees, percent of acreage that must be left open, and maximum allowable slopes for new developments. The revisions will codify in many cases what is already happening now through a more cumbersome and time-consuming “discretionary” building approval process. This work aligns with the goals of the Housing Tools and Strategies workgroup to streamline and reduce costs to encourage the construction of more housing people can afford. The code language will come back to council for approval and then to a public hearing.
Council also reviewed our current rest stop ordinance. Council’s goal to increase the number of rest stops as transitional shelter has been difficult to implement -- there are still only four rest stops, three in Ward 7. The fourth in Ward 2 has just been approved to increase from 12 residents to 20. Council is reviewing the regulations on location and process with an eye to enabling more rest stops to be created. There were more questions than answers and this will come back for another work session.
Despite all of this constructive work, the week has been challenging as we waited for the District Attorney’s determination on the fatal shooting of Charles Landeros at Cascade Middle School. Yesterday the DA released her judgment with the body cam videos of the event, determining that the shooting was justified. On Monday, council will receive a briefing from our Police Auditor on the city’s deadly shooting review process. This is painful in all ways, but at least the information is now public.