This was council’s first week back in session since breaking for the holidays in December. We devoted considerable council time to a process session beginning on Monday and flowing into Wednesday’s session.
In that process session, council considered a few logistical issues. The one most visible to the public will be a slight adjustment to shift “Committee Reports and Items of Interest” to the 7:30 session when more members of the public will hear them.
The bigger concern for council centered on the public forum at the 7:30 meetings. Council has been concerned by the length of these meetings that can discourage members of the public from waiting to testify, and that repeating issues crowd out time sensitive testimony regarding a specific issue council is addressing.
Council has proposed three modifications as a six-month pilot: reducing testimony time to two minutes from three; capping the overall duration of public forum to 90 minutes (which would allow 45 people to testify); and randomizing the order of testimony rather than first-come, first-served. We will see how this works and will welcome testimony on these changes to inform our review in six months. The changes will begin at our February 10th meeting.
On Friday, I joined an interagency trip to Portland, including representatives from the City, Lane County and Lane Transit, to see Portland’s four-month-old navigation center. Our goal was to learn from their experience as we develop our own shelter and navigation center as part of the TAC implementation. This was my first time seeing a “sprung” structure, which is one of our options instead of building a brick and mortar construction. I was impressed -- it looks like a modern Quonset, with nice landscaping and outdoor seating areas. Inside is light and lofty with the feel of a community center. The center offers coordinated services which meet immediate medical needs as well as connecting residents to housing, mental health and other providers. People may stay for up to 90 days; the center houses 100 people at a time. Our concept of 75-beds and service access aligns with Portland’s program. In our discussions, we were most impressed with the coordination between the city and Multhomah County. It’s a good model that we are adopting with our new Strategic Initiatives Manager who will report to both Eugene and Lane County.
Coming up on Tuesday at 5:30 is the much-awaited council discussion of our revised ordinance governing Accessible Dwelling Units. I expect council to vote on the revised ordinance after time to review a few additional proposed changes offered by Councilor Zelenka. The state statute is now in effect and it is critical that Eugene’s ordinance fall into compliance this month.
I will be marching and speaking at the MLK celebrations on Monday and hope to see many of you there.