This was a full week for Council which began with a long
night on Monday including both a robust public forum and a public
hearing. On Wednesday, the Budget Committee heard the Manager’s
presentation for FY22.
On Monday, Council discussed two pathways to better manage the high number
of vehicles in which people are camping. This work session followed a
discussion two weeks ago in which staff provided data and maps indicating the
enormous increase in the number of people who are living in vehicles and the
impacts to neighborhoods and businesses. After full and detailed
discussion, Council agreed to move forward in two ways: first, to implement a
focused increase in parking signage in industrial/commercial areas,
particularly in West Eugene, to clarify where vehicles can and cannot park; and
second, to move proposed City Code changes to a public hearing that would
clarify and close some gaps in the parking code that impede the City’s ability
to manage where overnight parking is happening. For example, the new language
adopts a new definition of a “block” to include both sides of a street as
opposed to one side, which is how the code currently reads. Council voted
to move these code changes to a public hearing.
This is a hard discussion and reflects the urgency of the need to provide
safe sleeping options for people who are unhoused and the profound impacts of
such a large population of unsheltered people on the commercial and residential
streets where they are living for lack of better alternatives.
Following this discussion on Monday, Council held a public hearing on a
proposal to expand those safe sleeping options. Specifically, the
proposal would develop 200 additional vehicle and 300 tent sites in multiple
locations in the City. Due to the lateness of the hour, Council continued
deliberation over the ordinance language and approved the ordinance in the work
session on Wednesday. The intent of Council was to be sure that
designated sites provide garbage collection, toilets, hand washing and potable
water, and that the City will have an additional goal to be able to provide
electricity. The site management will be coordinated with service
providers in the same way that the temporary sites at Washington Jefferson Park
and 13th have been managed. A joint team of City and County staff are gathering
information on potential sites. Passage of this ordinance is necessary to
give the Manager authority to either purchase or lease those sites.
The deliberation over these two actions consumed both work sessions. A
discussion about the LCC aviation program at the Airport, and a review of the
proposed multi-unit housing development at the former LCC site at 1059
Willamette were postponed.
On Wednesday night, the City Manager presented her Budget framework and
priorities for the FY 22 budget. The proposed budget reflects $4.6
million in reductions, but includes on-going investments in Council’s priority
areas, including additional investments in homeless services and climate
policy. One of the hardest cuts to swallow for a number of committee
members is a reduction of one fire engine at Station 2.
The City is working in a changing landscape. We are discussing the
budget in light of known and projected resources, fully aware that American Rescue
Plan funds will have a positive impact in the coming fiscal year. We
simply don’t know enough yet about the guidelines and restrictions of those
funds. The Manager will reconvene the full budget committee for a
Supplemental process in FY 22 once this is clearer.
Finally, discussions about the Community Safety Initiative allocations
is coming to Council on May 10th. These funds are separate and dedicated
– they are not part of the General Fund.