Council addressed a pair of big issues this week.
On Monday, they circled back to review the Supplemental Budget. The Supplemental Budget is an opportunity for council to vote on budget items for which the need or revenue has changed since the annual budget was initially passed. In this case, Council was being asked to agree to financing the first phase of infrastructure for the Riverfront Development. Both the extent of infrastructure to be installed and the financing structure have changed. In this decision, Council agreed to move forward with some interfund loans and the issuance of bonds to fund the first phase of the infrastructure that will connect the new Riverfront park with roads, electricity, water and sewer. The park is on schedule for completion in the summer of 2021. This section of the infrastructure will also connect the section of the Riverfront neighborhood designated for affordable housing. A Phase Two build out will extend the infrastructure the full length of the district reaching to the Steamplant.
It is challenging to approve a financial investment of this sort given the economic uncertainty of the times. I fully support Council’s decision to move forward. Public investment in a long-sought and strong master plan is part of our economic recovery plan, creating jobs, opportunities and housing that we need.
On Wednesday, Council returned to a discussion of Short Term Rentals. Council is seeking a path to providing enough regulation of short term rentals to ensure neighborhood livability while at the same time enabling people to earn income through this kind of rental. An ordinance presented at a public hearing last fall was controversial; and council directed the manager to convene an advisory group. Based on the experience and issues that continue to reverberate in and about the advisory group, Council was asked to take an intermediary step toward better understanding the Short Term Rental market in Eugene. On Wednesday, Council voted to direct staff to prepare a new ordinance for a June public hearing that is more limited in scope. This first step would create a licensing requirement that will enable the City to better understand how many Short Terms Rentals there are; whether they are owner occupied; where they are located; and how actively rented they are. Council also directed that the ordinance should contain an accountability requirement to ensure that rentals that are in repeated violation of noise, social host or nuisance codes would lose their license.
On other fronts, the Budget Committee met for the second time on Wednesday night. Discussion mostly focused on our annual contribution to the Human Services Commission, as members are concerned about our capacity to meet the needs of people who are homeless. The committee will hold its third and final meeting next week at which time specific motions for funding will be discussed and voted.
Next week, we’ll return for another discussion of the Riverfront development to review the terms with the developers, Williams Dame; and will hear an update on the Climate Action Plan 2.0. Council will also be asked to support a resolution in support of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and that condemns hate and bias speech and crime, particularly in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Enjoy your holiday weekend, but please wear masks in crowded situations and don’t wander too far from home! We want to protect our small coastal towns from an influx of visitors during this Phase 1 reopening in response to COVID 19.