Council meetings this week were high level – looking at the broad landscape in human rights, urban planning, parks and climate action.
Council voted on two important pieces:
1. They approved amendments to our 2017 Ordinance Protecting the Rights of Individuals – commonly referred to as the sanctuary city ordinance. The amendments ensure that the city will only collect and maintain individually identifiable information about immigrants under three circumstances: if the information is required by state or federal law; if it is voluntarily given by the individual; or it is provided to the city as part of an application for employment, contract, business permit or license from the city.
2. The council also unanimously approved a resolution in support of the student climate strike. Even though the strike was last month, councilors want to be on record in support of students who continue to push us for urgent action in response to global warming.
At Monday’s work session, council heard the annual report and approved the 2020 workplan for the Human Rights Commission. This commission consistently advocates for marginalized communities and will continue their work in outreach to the community and linking their work to an array of boards and commissions.
Council also on Monday received an update and overview of the work and decisions ahead related to both the Downtown Urban Renewal District and the Riverfront District. Both of these districts are the focus of investment in our public landscape. For downtown, council will be considering the proposed re-design of the town square park blocks, Kesey Square, the former LCC building on Willamette, completion of the high speed fiber network, and the “Wayfinding” project to improve signage downtown. Up first is the town square discussion on October 30th. Discussion of city hall is also coming soon as council begins discussion of design values and budget. City hall funding is currently separate from the Urban Renewal District, so it is related but was not a part of this update.
Along the riverfront, council will review bids for completion of the infrastructure on the former EWEB site – including roads, water, sewer, electricity; review of the railroad quiet zone and design and funding of the new riverfront public plaza both coming to council on the 28th. Farther along in the calendar is a review of the steam plant renovation and the affordable housing project.
At Wednesday’s work session, council enjoyed an upbeat presentation of 15 years of investment in our “Rivers to Ridges” work to conserve and improve open space throughout and encircling our city – spanning from Mt. Pisgah on the east to the new Wild Iris trail on the west. This work has restored 6,736 acres of habitat, planted over two million plants, opened 59 miles of stream for fish passage, and built 29 miles of paths.
And finally, council reviewed the transportation strategies of the CAP 2.0, our climate action plan. This work builds on the foundation of our Transportation System Plan improvements and our Envision Eugene goals. There are three essential elements geared toward reducing the amount of driving, increasing fuel efficiency, and encouraging electrification. The bottom line is that we will need to more of everything to meet our climate recovery goals – more biking and walking, more transit, more fuel efficient vehicles – both buses and cars—and more electric vehicles. In well-timed public testimony on Monday night, a group of UO students newly returned from biking in Denmark and Sweden, urged council to act to invest in much more bike infrastructure.
It was City Manager, Jon Ruiz’s last week and last council session. Council honored him with a tongue in cheek proclamation and thanked him for his responsive, thoughtful, effective leadership. We look forward to beginning a new era with Sarah Medary as our interim city manager. In the coming months, council will discuss the process for hiring a new permanent city manager.