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Keeping in touch: Notes from the Mayor

Mayor Lucy VinisThis blog aims to nurture our conversation and understanding of the issues before us. Every week, I will provide a weekly update on the activities in the city government, my activities as mayor, and brief reflections on progress, opportunities and challenges. You are invited to respond with reactions, insights and questions. We do this work together.

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Apr 10

April 10, 2020

Posted on April 10, 2020 at 4:22 PM by Elena Domingo

Council held our first virtual work session on Wednesday, the 8th. Eugene-Springfield Fire Chief Heppel provided an overview of the city’s Emergency Operations and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He opened with the comment that the Governor’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” order is just two weeks old. It sure feels like a life-time.

That said, city staff in just a month have made a full transition to a new mode of operation, enabling ongoing city functions to continue smoothly, while also investing in significant emergency programs, particularly with respect to our unhoused population. The city’s website has full information about this work and is updated daily, so I will not delve into the details here. I will say that our specific efforts to provide shelter and outreach to the unhoused are key to reducing the spread of coronavirus because of their vulnerability and lack of access to hygiene. The “shelter in place” protocol that allows homeless campers to stay where they are in order to reduce their travels throughout the city is not simple. The city is now refining that rule with a restriction on camping in neighborhood parks which are not large enough areas for campsites and neighborhood visitors to maintain safe distance. Thank you all for your forbearance, and for keeping us informed about how things are working in your neighborhoods.

I have spent quite a bit of time talking to local businesses who are all struggling to cope with the loss of business and employees during this time. While Eugene, Springfield and Lane County have created an emergency loan fund, it was quickly flooded with many more applications than we could satisfy. Again, the city’s website has links to all of the resources available. A major challenge is the confusion and slow pace around applications for federal small business relief funds. Rep. Peter DeFazio and State Senator Floyd Prozanski joined me in a Zoom conference with local businesses on Thursday and both are continuing to advocate on behalf of our local business needs. Our City of Eugene Economic Recovery Team is looking beyond this acute phase of the crisis to our longer term recovery.

Also on Wednesday, Council voted to extend the current franchise agreement with NW Natural for another six months in order to provide more time to negotiate the carbon-reduction elements of that agreement.

On Monday, we’ll hold our first council meeting with both a public forum and two public hearings. The video will be live-streamed and available afterwards on the city’s website. You may speak at the forum and hearings by phone. Instructions for how to do that are included on the “Public Webcasts andMeeting Materials” webpage on the city’s site.

I am grateful to all of you for doing your part to stay home. It will be harder in these sunny days to resist the temptation to crowd our parks. We’re all feeling restless, but our collective effort is working. Thank you.