By Carleen Reilly
I was remiss last week in not providing Andy Kading’s email address to you. Andy works at Eugene’s Traffic Operations and informed neighbors at the River Road Community Organization (RRCO) January meeting about traffic signal lights and how they are synchronized. I didn’t have his email available a couple of weeks ago, but members of the RR CRG sent it to me. AKading@eugene-or.gov Our members are a fount of wisdom.
Land Use Conversations. Pat and I attended the first Conversation, held at Countryside Pizza, Monday at Noon. We had a full house and a lively discussion about the draft proposals for zoning along the River Road Corridor for housing and commercial activities. The best thing you can do is sign up to attend a Conversation (See Calendar), listen to others, and provide your views. We received a postcard in the mail yesterday, so you have a hard copy to square with your calendar. What I have to say here are my personal views, and other Conversations may center on different areas of the neighborhoods than ours did.
My first observation was that nearly all land use questions morphed into transportation questions. As we add new housing, new people in our neighborhoods will need to get to school or work, need to buy groceries, go to doctor’s appointments, attend lectures and meetings, and travel to visit friends and family. When new dwellings are added to current parcels–one at a time, no traffic impact analysis would be conducted. Is there a way we could conduct annual traffic analyses to give us indicators about traffic trends and implement more incentives for people to use public transit, or bike and walk? Employers might give employees a bonus if they use public transit, bike, or walk to work. I think it might be seen as vindictive if employers charged their employees for driving and the use of a parking lot. There are times an employee needs to drive in order to get to a doctor or dentist appointment or go to an event after work.
Then, a question arises as to whether our neighborhood plan would require parking be provided on the property for each dwelling. River Road and Santa Clara have a particular problem in that our lanes are narrow, often just two vehicle lanes and fog lines on either side. When neighbors park their cars in the rights-of-way, it makes walking or biking dangerous. Pat and I sometimes see a woman in her wheelchair early mornings, ‘walking’ her dog. She has to go quite a ways out into the traffic lane to go around parked cars. This puts her in the line of fire as she is unable to maneuver quickly when vehicles come around the corner.
Another area of discussion was about agricultural land within the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). I see this as a trade off. Some are adamant about protecting this ag land, but, I am adamant about protecting the large agricultural area beyond the UGB and the City Limits. I would love it if every parcel had its own garden, but if we do not provide sufficient parcels for housing within the UGB, then we will have to extend the UGB to bring in additional land for housing, encroaching on ag land. One thing we learned in Envision Eugene, some 9+ years ago, was that when you take in more territory, you would want to build single-family housing, because it would produce fewer vehicles commuting for jobs and school than large apartment complexes.
A related topic is to provide adequate land to add sufficient housing for new residents, both within our neighborhoods and the larger community. One comment was that this concept extends zoning too far out into the neighborhood (1/4 mile). First of all, House Bill 2001 only allows (not mandates) an owner to add another dwelling unit to their parcel, if they choose to. My fear is that if we plan to add most new dwelling units closer to the corridor, then we would have to build such tall apartment houses–close together–along the corridor that it would feel like a canyon when you walk or ride along River Road. I would rather have people have the opportunity to build further out into the neighborhood, scattering the new dwellings, and providing a variety of housing (rather than big blocks of housing going up all at once).
A powerful comment was made about how to provide housing for the unhoused. I am very proud of our neighborhoods’ welcome of affordable housing. We are lucky that our affordable housing is currently very well managed and great community assets. Many people and groups are working toward providing dwellings for unhoused and underhoused people, and the City and County are cooperating to locate parcels and finding funds to underwrite this effort. The state has recently provided additional funds for housing the unhoused for out community and around Oregon. But, as long as people have private property rights, we do not have mechanisms to require that dwellings built be affordable. We can set zoning across an area, but setbacks, heights, and limits won’t keep someone from choosing to build a McMansion. Incentives like MUPTI (Multi-Unit Property Tax Exemptions) could be used to encourage more affordable dwelling units or even ADA units for seniors and physically impaired people.
I heard a piece of transportation-related data that affordable housing groups have fewer cars and utilize public transit to a greater extent than other market-rate apartment or single-family residents. This bodes well in our efforts to transition from single-vehicle trips to public transit or walking and biking.
I hope you will attend a Conversation and get your copy of the Corridor map that shows proposed housing and commercial concepts with specifics about zoning setbacks, heights, buffering, and details. Make your own educated conclusion of how these concepts will work on your street and in your life, then provide information to help make the best decisions for our community overall.
- THURSDAY, January 30, 2020, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Let’s Talk Land: Neighborhood Plan Community Conversations. Santa Clara. RSVP for meeting location. firstname.lastname@example.org
- THURSDAY, February 6, 2020, 7:00 p.m. Santa Clara Community Organization. Messiah Lutheran Church.
- THURSDAY, February 6, 2020, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Let’s Talk Land: Neighborhood Plan Community Conversations. River Road. RSVP for meeting location. email@example.com
- MONDAY, February 10, 2020, 7:00 p.m. River Road Community Organization General Membership meeting. River Road Annex, 1055 River Road.
- WEDNESDAY, February 12, 2020, Noon to 1:30 p.m. Let’s Talk Land: Neighborhood Plan Community Conversations. River Road. RSVP for meeting location. firstname.lastname@example.org
- THURSDAY, February 13, 2020, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Let’s Talk Land: Neighborhood Plan Community Conversations. River Road. RSVP for meeting location. email@example.com
- MONDAY, February 17, 2020. River Road Community Organization Board meeting. River Road Annex, 1055 River Road.
- MONDAY, February 24, 2020, 11:30 a.m. Eugene Planning Commission. Work Session on River Road/Santa Clara Neighborhood Plan. Atrium, Sloat Room, 99 West 10th Avenue.
- MONDAY, February 24, 2020, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Let’s Talk Land: Neighborhood Plan Community Conversations. Santa Clara. RSVP for meeting location. firstname.lastname@example.org
- WEDNESDAY, March 4, 2020, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Let’s Talk Land: Neighborhood Plan Community Conversations. River Road. RSVP for meeting location. email@example.com
Disclaimer: The RR CRG weekly messages are my personal views and interpretation of community events and neighborhood planning efforts. I am not a Board member of RRCO (River Road Community Organization); SCRRIPT (Santa Clara-River Road Implementation Planning Team) has transitioned leadership to the Community Advisory Committee (CAC); and I have never been a City employee.
Carleen Reilly has lived in the neighborhood for over 40 years. She served on the RRCO board of directors from 2007-2013, and has been involved over the years with the Joint Strategy Team (JuST), the Santa Clara-River Road Outreach and Learning project (SCRROL), and the Santa Clara-River Road Implementation Planning Team (SCRRIPT)
She publishes a weekly e-newsletter called “River Road Community Resource Group Newsletter” that focuses on land use, transportation, parks and open spaces, economic development, and Community interests as they are related to our Neighborhood Planning activities in conjunction with the Santa Clara neighborhood. If you would like to subscribe you can contact Carleen at: carleenr |at| gmail dot com.