Monday’s council meetings began quietly enough, with few members of the public in Harris Hall.
Council first heard from the Police Auditor on the process for reviewing the shooting of Charles Landeros at Cascade Middle School, which begins with the EPD, including the auditor, reviewing the report by the Interagency Deadly Force Investigation Team (IDFIT). The Civilian Review Board will also have the choice to review the case. The CRB can identify this as a “Community Impact” case if the investigation alleges excessive force, bias or disparate treatment in violation of constitutional rights. This is a process the public can follow.
Council followed a brief discussion and direction to staff to create an ordinance adjusting the role of municipal court judge from a contractor to a salaried employee, in light of the time and commitment required to fulfill this role.
Our work session concluded with a discussion of increasing parking fees in the downtown and university districts. This is a decision that falls to the city manager, not council, but the manager wanted to hear council feedback and offer explanations. Council is concerned about employees who must park downtown and cannot afford the increases, particularly staff of Senior and Disabled Services who need to come and go to serve their clients. The city is working with Lane Council of Governments (LCOG) to address this challenge and others. Fees from parking support improvements and maintenance of our parking facilities and also support downtown activities.
The public forum was full and passionate in anticipation of Council’s Wednesday meetings about the regulation of natural gas and an update on our Climate Action Plan.
Council is considering options to ensure that our franchise agreement with Northwest Natural Gas aligns with our climate recovery goals, and reviewed a list of options with their impacts and costs. This is the first of several conversations as we weigh the implication of increased franchise fees, ways to hold NW Natural accountable to their potential agreement to decarbonize their product, and possible limitations on increasing fossil fuel infrastructure. NW Natural will present to council in early spring their “deep decarbonization” plans.
Council is also holding a joint meeting with EWEB on February 11 at which we will be able to discuss their short and longer range projections for renewable energy.
This topic flowed into the Climate Action Plan session, at which council was briefed on the impacts of a range of actions in helping us meet the Climate Recovery targets. Eugene is a leader for our targets and our methodology, but our next steps are hard. The large lever shareholders, including EWEB and NW Natural, are coming back for their second round of discussions in April to dial in strategies for filling the gap between goals and forecasts. There is a lot of impatience from advocates that the city is not moving fast enough, but the discussions this winter and spring are going to bring much of the work and progress into focus.