A month has passed since I last wrote: I spent four days in early March with colleagues from Springfield, Lane County, Lane Transit District, Springfield Public Schools and Willamalane Parks and Recreation on the annual “United Front” lobbying week in Washington, DC. and Council meetings took a two-week break in the end of March. This week, I convened a special council meeting on the ordinance prohibiting fossil fuel infrastructure in new low-rise residential construction.
As you know, this ordinance was approved by Council on February 6th. Subsequently, a petition was circulated to put the ordinance to a public vote. The required number of signatures were gathered and certified in mid-March. Eugene Code requires the Manager to present a petition referred to the voters to council no later than 20 days after the signatures are certified. Council is not required to take action; and that is what they chose. Councilors concurred that the petition should proceed to the ballot on November 7th.
The main concern now is that the ordinance as approved by council has an effective date of June 30, 2023; and that is the date that will appear as the retroactively effective date in the title and description on the ballot in November. Because it is now referred to the voters, the ordinance is stayed – not effective -- creating an uncertain limbo after June 30th until the ordinance is either approved or fails in November. Councilors could choose one of several pathways to create clarity around the effective date if the ordinance is passed by the voters, and there seemed some interest among councilors for considering their options. No motions were made at this week’s meeting calling for any changes or follow-up work sessions.
On a more personal note, during the March break I had the pleasure of visiting Eugene’s Sister City in Kakegawa, Japan at the end of a personal trip to visit my son who is in graduate school in northern Japan. Eugene has been a Sister City with Kakegawa since 1979, but the last official visit was in 2005 when former Mayor Piercy led a delegation. We were treated with generosity, excitement, and overwhelming hospitality. We toured tea farms where they grow and dry their famous green tea; and received an exhaustive tour of the stages of producing sake at a family-owned 150-year-old distillery. It is beautiful country and I was grateful for our local Sister City chapter who helped prepare me for the visit; and for our wonderful hosts in Japan.