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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Jul 26

July 23, 2021

Posted on July 26, 2021 at 8:24 PM by Niyah Ross

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 all. 

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.