Blog module icon

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.

View All Posts

Feb 05

February 5, 2021

Posted on February 5, 2021 at 3:02 PM by Niyah Ross

It was a quiet week for Council which doesn’t meet the first week of the month.  Councilors, staff and I used this first week of the month to touch base on issues and catch up.

There was a lot of catching up.  Our email was filled with demands related to homelessness and the franchise renewal for Northwest Natural Gas.  The week also hosted two meetings related to police reform – the full Ad Hoc Committee followed by the subcommittee on Hiring and Training.


The impact of homelessness is reflected in urgent calls for new, different and more solutions to the suffering in our midst.  I have spent the week connecting both to advocates for the unhoused and distressed residents and businesses whose neighborhoods are impacted by the number of unsheltered people.


The City has implemented guidelines related to campers to clarify expectations around campsite safety and cleanliness in order to allow people to shelter in place in response to COVID.  This has meant that Washington Jefferson Park, for example, is now almost filled with tent sites.  We continue to struggle to develop alternatives to allow smaller numbers of unsheltered people to camp in smaller groups and many advocates are looking for sites.  


Council has a joint meeting with the County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday to review our progress in implementing the ten recommendations from the Shelter Feasibility and Homeless System Assessment of 2018.  The emergency strategies that the City is now employing to provide outreach to unsheltered campers will increasingly strengthen the pathway from tent sites to shelter and services. We’re learning as we go, and I’m anxious to continue to connect with advocates about how we might improve and direct our work to make more progress at a faster pace.


Monday’s work session will discuss the franchise negotiations with NW Natural.  Those negotiations are at fevered pitch today, and we’ll know the status on Monday.  I reiterate my priorities: that we protect our control of our publicly owned Right of Way and that we move forward on our Climate Recovery goals.  I expect a full public forum that night after we’ve heard an update on these negotiations.


The Ad Hoc Committee on Police Policy continues to work through a huge body of information and voted to move forward on 10 motions related to Use of Force. Council President Jennifer Yeh opened the meeting by encouraging the committee to identify specific areas of policy change without trying to produce final, polished policy language.  Council will review these recommendations before any of them are adopted as policy. She also reinforced hope that dissenting opinions would be reflected in the final report to ensure that Council gets a full understanding of the range of perspectives.  The full committee has four more meetings, including one on February 17 that will include public testimony about experiences interacting with the Eugene Police. 


The next night, the subcommittee on Hiring and Training took a deeper dive into the ways in which bias, particularly white supremacist opinions, are identified in prospective police candidates; and the effectiveness of cultural competency in police trainings.  This is long, hard work; the committee is breaking new ground and we are learning not only about possible improvements to our public safety, but also how to effectively orchestrate this kind of discussion.