My first full week in office has been exciting, daunting, informative and inspiring. It began with my participation in the MLK march and celebration – the biggest ever, cold and sunny, culminating in speeches and performances at the Shedd that included comments from Peter DeFazio, UO President Michael Schill, and Human Rights award winner, Phil Carrasco, among others. We were energized by our shared commitment to stand for dignity, respect, equality and fairness. Many thanks to Eric Richardson and the NAACP for orchestrating a terrific event.
The same day, I was proud to announce two grants of $350,000 each from Kaiser Permanente to support the work of ShelterCare in stabilizing formerly homeless adults with ongoing behavioral health services and Willamette Family in supporting families to ensure their ongoing stability.
City Council held a robust trio of public hearings on Tuesday night. Over 25 speakers addressed the proposed changes to the Rental Housing Program, which is due for renewal. Councilors and I have received many emails expressing both support and opposition to this program, which is designed to ensure that rental properties are safe and healthy. The Council will make a decision this Monday, the 23rd, on proposed changes to the program and whether to continue the sunset clause or make the program permanent.
At Wednesday’s work session, the Council reviewed the staff’s timeline and plans for engaging the public in a review of the Envision Eugene plans that are a critical step in our final approval of the Urban Growth Boundary changes. We encourage you to participate in the community outreach to ensure you understand the proposals and offer your comments. Information is available at www.envisioneugene.org.
I met with Representatives Phil Barnhart, John Lively, Paul Holvey, and Julie Fahey on Thursday, talking through the challenges of meeting our transportation, housing, and revenue prospects in the coming legislative session. In between these one-on-one sessions, I met with and toured Ya Po Ah Terrace – familiar to most of you as the tall apartment building in front of Skinner Butte. This almost 50 year old building is home to 220 low income senior tenants, and is one of our critical subsidized housing assets. The City of Eugene has been committed over the years to ensuring that this affordable housing continues to be available.
That same day was my first as a member of the Poverty and Homelessness Board, the key public/private partnership that seeks to develop and support immediate, transitional and long term solutions to homelessness.
I ended the day on Thursday at the Northeast Neighborhood Association. The capacity crowd of over 100 assembled primarily to hear from City staff and ODOT about proposed improvements to the Beltline interchange at Delta Highway, and from City planning staff about an approved subdivision, The Nines. I was grateful for the chance to hear their questions and concerns about traffic planning and neighborhood impacts. Everyone feels the effects of growth, and these community conversations are incredibly helpful in understanding how to accommodate change in a way that is respectful of existing neighborhoods.
I will continue to be busy this weekend and look forward to the Women’s March and Rally on Saturday – to which men are invited and welcome -- the open house at the Eugene Mission to see their new and improved kitchen, and to enjoy a musical and cultural presentation hosted at the Korean Central Church.
Whew! That’s it – besides continuing to figure out how to answer emails, read council packets and manage my calendar!