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 12

May 12, 2023

Posted on May 12, 2023 at 4:04 PM by Cherish Bradshaw

It feels as if we raced through the week touching down on very big topics fairly briefly: Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities, Fossil Fuel Risk bonds, and the Willamette Greenway.

Monday’s discussion of Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities (CFEC) was short and to the point.   As a reminder, CFEC is a state mandated set of rules issued in response to former Governor Kate Brown’s Executive Order which called on state agencies to take actions to reduce and regulate Greenhouse Gas Emissions to meet state targets. The Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission issued the CFEC rules last year, and the city’s planning staff used Monday’s work session to offer a quick update on our process in meeting their requirements.   The message to take away from this work session is that while CFEC imposes tight deadlines and significant planning time, the goals align with other policies and priorities previously adopted and being implemented in the city including the Climate Action Plan 2.0, the Transportation System Plan, the Housing Implementation Pipeline, Middle Housing code amendments, and downtown development.  

On Wednesday, Councilors were given an overview of Fossil Fuel Risk Bonds and insights from a couple of case studies.  These bonds are a tool to evaluate and respond to the financial risks associated with each stage of production, transportation and use of fossil fuels.   The issue is one of several Council is exploring in response to the impact of industrial pollutants, specifically the air and soil contamination caused by the J.H. Baxter plant in Bethel for which the company claims to be unable to pay for the remediation costs.   Councilors are very interested in moving forward in creating a financial accountability mechanism like this, preferably to address other toxic and dangerous materials in addition to fossil fuels.  They directed the manager to return with a work session that would clarify how much information the city currently understands about possible hazards, and the framework of information that could be included in a Request for Proposals for an outside consultant to develop the recommendations about the appropriate accountability tool.

And finally on Wednesday Council was briefed on the code amendments to the Willamette Greenway which are required in order to meet state requirements for Clear and Objective Standards.   The proposed amendments have been approved by the Planning Commission and will be open for a Public Hearing on June 20th.  During the Planning Commission’s process, Council heard a lot of concern and some misinformation about how these amendments might impact the Greenway.   This session was a chance for Council to receive a clear description of the changes.  Ample information is available on the City’s website, but a summation has six key points:

The proposed amendments maintain:

  • The requirement for a public hearing for all applications in the Greenway;
  • All other environmental protections for Eugene’s water resources; and
  • The existing boundary of the Willamette Greenway.

The proposed amendments DO NOT;

  • Change the land use designation or zoning of any property in the Greenway;
  • Increased the allowed housing density or change allowed uses in the Greenway; or
  • Remove or reduce any public pedestrian and/or bike paths.