I have been silent for a couple of weeks and not able to attend council meetings. A family emergency required a trip to NY for a week in June and will pull me away again this coming week, July 8-13. In addition, I traveled to the Climate Summit and US Conference of Mayors, June 26th-July 2nd, where I presented on five panels. I will return to preside over council meetings beginning July 15th.
The key council actions on June 24th under Councilor Semple’s able leadership as presiding officer were the votes to extend trespass control over planting strips and votes on the FY20 budget. I agree with the council’s unanimous vote in support of the ordinance clarifying the right of property owners to include planting strips when posting for trespassing. The profusion of campsites in these heavily trafficked sites presents safety hazards to campers, impedes pedestrians, and has created sanitation challenges both for the city and property owners. At the same time, spots are available at the Dusk to Dawn site on Highway 99. I am happy that the Eugene Police are now distributing garbage bags to help campers manage their refuse – an idea that I have been championing. We need sanctioned locations for people who are unsheltered and our work to implement the TAC recommendations for sustainable solutions is moving forward. Council will receive an update on July 17th.
Secondly, the FY20 budget includes a few noteworthy additions: council approved a $120,000 fund to improve sanitation downtown, specifically to support more bathrooms; as well as $130,000 to support the creation of a multicultural liaison. The liaison role was recommended by the Human Rights
Commission in their “Marginalized Voices” report issued two years ago.
At the Climate Summit, I shared our Climate Action Plan 2.0. focus on buildings, particularly housing, consumption, and transportation. Of particular interest to other participants is our emerging collaboration with EWEB, the State Dept. of Transportation and a statewide nonprofit, FORTH, to extend the adoption of electric vehicles to a broader sector of the community.
I spoke in four panels at the US Conference of Mayors. First, I joined a panel reviewing best practices in responding to homelessness. Our TAC implementation plan to create a city/county role of Strategic Initiatives Manager immediately drew a response from other mayors as an idea to consider.
Congressman DeFazio presented a keynote address about the potential for federal action on infrastructure and transportation investments. I followed his speech on Saturday in two panels where I reiterated the challenges and prospects for federal investment in these key areas, and called on other mayors to press their federal Representatives and Senators for action, and to leverage contacts they have in the Trump administration, to prioritize and fund investment in our roads, bridges, harbors and airports.
On Monday morning, I challenged fellow mayors to fight for local control of our public rights of way in light of FCC rules that give those rights away to the telecom industry to install 5G small cell antennae. Again, the goal is to galvanize cities to galvanize in turn their federal delegations.