April is Fair Housing Month, a theme that has driven my agenda as well as council’s.
On Monday, Governor Kate Brown came to Eugene to deliver the good news that the legislature has committed $13 million for the renovation of Ya-Po-Ah Terrace. The building houses 223 low income senior tenants, most of whom benefit from rent subsidies. Its 50 year-old structure needs serious upgrading to its heating and cooling systems, as well as windows. The improvements will make it both more comfortable for tenants, less costly, and is another community step toward our Climate Recovery Goals.
On Wednesday, Council was briefed for the first time on Inclusionary Zoning. Thanks to 2016 state legislation, municipalities can impose a requirement for affordable housing in new apartments with 20 or more units. Council asked City staff to develop more detailed information about how inclusionary zoning has been used in other jurisdictions and analyze the market conditions and policy options for council to consider in a follow up session. This discussion also included the potential for creating an affordable housing trust fund by implementing a Construction Excise Tax of 1% on new construction, giving the City needed revenue to help support future affordable housing development.
Council also discussed the management of our increasingly packed Monday night forums. I’ve heard concerns from some constituents that we might reduce or truncate public testimony. This is not our goal. We are looking for ways to expand public input. Staff proposed video testimony as a way of enabling people who cannot attend Monday night meetings to testify at more convenient times. Council was interested, but in general prefer to see people face-to-face. I have suggested we offer a new sign-up sheet that would allow a group of people to pick a designated spokesperson. Everyone could stand together and be recognized by name, but only the spokesperson would speak. We will begin to offer this to see if folks are interested.
That said, Monday will be the second and last joint public hearing about the Transportation System Plan and I encourage you to share your thoughts on this 20 year plan for our community. You can find the draft plan here.
Finally, I am continuing to canvass and will walk the neighborhood streets near the planned and proposed developments near River Ridge Golf Course this weekend.