Council advanced a couple of key issues this week. On
Monday, we opened a community forum to hear public reaction to the
recommendations contained in the Ad Hoc Committee on Police Policy
report. It was a milder forum than we expected given the significance and
passion surrounding the subject. Most people who testified urged us to
fully consider all the recommendations; many asserting we should adopt them
Council will continue their deliberations about the recommendations this
Monday when the City Manager, Police Auditor and Municipal Judge present their
framework for the range of steps need to consider and potentially adopt each
recommendation. Some, as the public testimony noted, are more readily
adopted than others. As I said at the meeting, this Council is committed
to acting on the work completed by the Ad Hoc Committee – this is the beginning
of a long, iterative process with significant steps and improvements along the
way. I am grateful to all of the people – community members, staff and
Council – whose hard work has brought us to this point.
On Wednesday, the Council was updated on the status of the creation of safe tent and car sleeping sites and approved moving forward on three locations. One is located on LTD property and can host both tents and vehicles with a capacity of 50-60; the second is a small site at Chase Commons that would be established like a rest stop with 20 Conestoga shelters. The City is working with providers to finalize agreements about management of the sites, which we hope will open by the end of August. A third site was approval of six medical respite pallet shelters at St. Vincent de Paul’s Service Center.
Although Council was frustrated by the relatively slow pace of progress in
establishing the sites, the staff has many more in the pipeline that are not
quite ready for Council action. If logistics and plans come together
before Council returns from its summer break, Councilors requested an emergency
session in August in order to keep moving.
Next Wednesday Council will have a related discussion when they meet jointly
with the Lane County Board of Commissioners to review progress on
implementation of the TAC report recommendations to create a permanent shelter,
improve outreach and services to the unsheltered, as well as build more
permanent supportive housing.
Finally, I joined a group of elected officials, city and county staff on a
tour of transportation projects for the Oregon Department of
Transportation (ODOT) Director Chris Strickler and Assistant Director Cooper
Brown. Springfield, Eugene, Coburg, Lane County and LTD cooperate through
their joint leadership in the Metropolitan Policy Committee in seeking and
overseeing investment of state and federal dollars on transportation projects.
At Mayor Van Gordon’s urging, we invited ODOT leadership to see for themselves
the work we have done and need to do. At the top of Eugene’s list are:
current improvements to the Delta interchange at Beltline; enhancements to Franklin
to transform it to a multi-modal corridor for biking and walking; seismic
upgrades to the Beltline bridge across the Willamette, creation of a local
arterial connecting Delta to Hunsaker to reduce local traffic on Beltline, and
to make improvements at the Beltline/River Road interchange to make it safer
and to create an area that pedestrians and bicyclists can safely
navigate. Peter DeFazio included in his Infrastructure bill $1 million to
support the creation of a bike and pedestrian bridge that would enable students
to cross the Beltline to get to and from North Eugene High School.
I understand that we all feel the anxiety and urgency of global warming and
the threat of wildfire. Our sunny, breezy weather is a mixed blessing
when we need rain. At the same time, important work continues on all of the
cascading issues before us. The ongoing work in Council confronts racial
justice, homelessness, and the impacts of transportation on climate and
equity. Your investments as a community are helping to build a safer, more
humane, and equitable future. Take heart.