When people ask me how it’s going, I reply “it’s an adventure.” Every day brings me in contact with new people and deeper appreciation for the friends and neighbors who take time to participate in our civic life.
Monday’s public forum was my first, and probably one of the largest in recent memory. We heard from 74 folks, about half of whom spoke of their frustration and concern about safety in our downtown. We are working on this important issue. The Council will have at least one working session on this and related issues to hear staff reports on initiatives directly related to safety, as well as to hear the results of the Projects for Public Spaces review of our challenges and opportunities. It is a high priority.
Council approved a revised Rental Housing Code that expands protections for tenants, who comprise 53% of Eugene’s residents, and agreed to make the program permanent. Council also passed a resolution opposing oil train transit through our city. While this resolution lacks legal teeth, it unites Eugene with other cities in pressing the rail companies and the US Department of Transportation to ensure greater safety to communities who are exposed to potentially catastrophic rail accidents.
Council and I received many requests to pursue Eugene’s status as a Sanctuary City. We are moving forward. The Mayor’s task force, established by former Mayor Kitty Piercy, met today to refine their expectations of the outcomes of a city ordinance. Our goal is to confirm our commitment that Eugene is a safe and welcoming community. More specifically, the task force aims to confirm the separation of roles between the Federal Government, which is responsible for immigration policy, and the City’s responsibilities as outlined in our charter. Our ordinance will adopt much of what is contained in the existing State of Oregon statutes, but expand and update them. One more meeting is planned, followed by a council work session, before staff finalizes the ordinance language. A public hearing will also be scheduled.
This afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending the graduation ceremony for nine graduates of Lane County’s Treatment Court. The testimony and recognition for these people who have overcome drug and alcohol addiction to rebuild their lives is empowering and hopeful.