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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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May 09

May 6, 2022

Posted on May 9, 2022 at 7:11 AM by Niyah Ross

The first week of the month is often a time to catch up and anticipate coming work without the pressure of Council meetings.  In my case, this week every month includes a monthly check in with both the Police Chief and the Police Auditor, as well as the monthly meeting of the Metropolitan Policy Committee.  I have added to my regular meeting schedule as well twice monthly meetings with the State Re-Build Task Force, and a monthly meeting of the EPA Local Government Advisory Committee.  Coming soon to my calendar are meetings with a national House America Initiative, and an Oregon Mayor’s Association Taskforce on Homelessness.  In this week’s blog I’ll give a quick view of the city updates as well as a snapshot of those other endeavors.

For Council, budget and Middle Housing discussions dominate the rest of May.  The City Manager summarized our financial prospects succinctly “We are facing a multi-million-dollar general fund gap at the same time as we are experiencing growing demand for our services.”  That said, the Budget Committee will consider some modest new investments in key areas, including a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion position within the Police Auditor’s office, ongoing funding for a Climate Analyst, as well as downtown investments.  We continue to benefit from federal American Rescue Plan funds to support our response to homelessness.


Middle Housing comes to Council on May 11 and May 18 for consideration of any amendments to the proposed Planning Commission Code. Council must finalize the code no later than May 23 in order to meet the State’s deadline. The public record is still open for comments and we expect to continue to hear testimony about this code at the Public Forums this month.


At the beginning of my second term in 2020 I made a commitment to work at a broader level on the pressing issues in Eugene for which we need investment and collaboration at state and federal levels.  Here’s a snapshot of those commitments:

Re-Build Task Force: This group was formed during the 2022 State legislative session under SB 1518.   It includes 27 members who represent specific stakeholders.  I fill the seat for an elected official from an urban area.  We are tasked with developing recommendations for the 2023 legislative session related to building code that will promote the State’s progress in decarbonizing our buildings and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the building sector.  This work aligns with the Council’s work on building electrification and decarbonization.


EPA Local Government Advisory Committee: I am one of 39 local government representatives from across the country tasked with providing recommendations to EPA on a range of issues.   Within this group, I serve on the Air and Climate Subcommittee.  Since convening in October 2021, we spent several months honing recommendations to the EPA regarding the implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.   The City of Eugene has benefitted from EPA support in assessing Brownfields for redevelopment, including the Riverfront Park.  As Council considers our options regarding chronic polluters to air and water, this is an opportunity to both learn and share insights about how EPA programs could support our priorities.


House America Initiative: This initiative was directed by Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Fudge to promote HUD’s efforts to re-house people who are homeless and increase the number of housing units created.  This is an opportunity to bring our experience and our success to the table to advocate for investments in alternative shelters, support services and fair housing.

 

Oregon Mayor’s Association on Homelessness: This new taskforce of Mayors from across Oregon is a follow up from the 2022 legislature and preparatory to the 2023 session.  We are collaborating to seek greater state investment in our local solutions to homelessness.  This is tied to all of the work the City is now doing to address homelessness, for which we received $5.75 million from the 2022 legislature.


Climate Mayors:  I have been a member of this national organization for several years and serve on their steering committee.  It is an important strong voice for the work we do at the City level to address global warming and to advocate for federal policy and financial support.


I have closed out my work week with one very upbeat meeting: an update from our staff about our preparations for OR 22 coming July 15-24.  The City is orchestrating a free, accessible fan festival in our new Riverfront Park to enable everyone to share in the excitement of this international track and field championship and to simply savor the opportunity to enjoy our new open space.  The City’s goal has used this opportunity to reinforce our values of sustainability, equity, and access by developing programming, temporary and permanent art installations, performance and gathering places for food that will be the community’s legacy and gift from this international event. I hope you will all find a way to roll, walk, bike, or take the bus to the Riverfront whether or not you are a track fan.