Fears and Facts

Recently the community was asked to consider a safe sleep parking facility in the previous Park and Ride station at River Road and River Avenue. The city was considering that spot or one a block or so away at a church that had closed. There was a long thread in Next Door about this possibility. Many important and legitimate concerns were voiced including prevalence of North Eugene High School students who congregate there, the busy traffic and freeway entrance, and the fact that it is very close to a service center for the unhoused across the street.

But the thread also surfaced many fears that the presence of homeless folks seem to raise. Some of these fears are based on assumptions about that population, primarily that they are criminals and sex offenders. For most of us with modest security, it is hard to understand their circumstances. This is an opportunity to learn more.

So RRCO endeavored to document some facts. It turns out that facts are hard to come by because the population is transient. There are two sources of data: the Point In Time count done every January, and the By Name count compiled by agencies that serve the unhoused population. Obviously these two methods are going to come up with different numbers, and many of the questions we have aren’t answered in the data.

To me the biggest take-away is that we have a very high rate of mental illness in Oregon that is not adequately resourced.

Here is our fact sheet. This will likely be revised as we learn more.

A Welcoming Attitude

By Carleen Reilly

The River Road neighborhood lawn signs say, “Building Community Together.” Living in a neighborhood that chooses to focus on building community feels good. ‘Community’ opens the possibility of accomplishing tasks large and small to make the whole neighborhood shine with pride. Our ‘River and Garden District’ offers many chances to work together, clearing invasive species along the river, planning for a neighborhood to serve future needs, or working to protect good air quality and clean water.

One problem that looms large in our neighborhood and across the broad metro area is how to meet the needs of a growing population of unsheltered people. The River Road neighborhood likes to think of ourselves as a welcoming community, but voices on social media tell us that we should be fearful of new people arriving in our neighborhood, whether they are moving into an apartment complex or seeking the simple shelter of a Conestoga hut.

How do we choose a welcoming attitude towards new people? For one thing, we must learn to set our fears aside and see the gifts new people bring with them. New neighbors often have enthusiasm for community projects. Current neighbors who have been in the trenches for a long time are tired. This injection of new energy often pushes a project over the goal line. New neighbors bring skills and knowledge that revitalize our energy stores and offer new ideas to improve our vision.

Iris Place, a new affordable housing project, will open this year on River Road, just north of our DariMart. We can choose to welcome our new neighbors or hold them at arms length. It is exciting to have this well-planned project underway. We are delighted to know that our new neighbors will be well cared for. Educational and social services will provide support as they raise children and learn to live in community.

Our neighbors put a great deal of thought into requesting energy efficiency, plenty of landscaping, and adjustment of building placement to minimize impacts on surrounding neighbors. This is a joint effort between the neighborhood, the City of Eugene, and St. Vincent de Paul. SVdP has a team of River Road neighbors who are kept up to date on the construction project and advise the construction team about neighbors’ desires and concerns. This team communicates with the River Road Community Organization about the status of the project.

Iris Place will have a community room open to the broader neighborhood and will provide a place for us to get acquainted with one another. We can start thinking, right now, about how we can integrate with one another. A few ideas come to mind.

Working together on tasks and holding socials are good for learning about one another. The Willamette River may be common ground that allows us to learn together: Walking tours along the river to observe wildlife, learning which paths access the river from River Road, locating public parks, and planning for clean up parties.

Another neighborhood held a welcoming celebration for residents and staff at a new affordable housing project. The project itself has pathways from one side of the neighborhood to a park on the other side. Regular social events, like ice cream socials, game nights, singalongs, and educational activities can knit a community together. Current affairs discussion groups, book clubs, children’s craft groups, sewing and quilting circles, fix-it cafes, and helping-hand events allow us to get acquainted in non-threatening situations. This brings to mind a childhood song: “The more we get together, the happier we’ll be.’ Building friendships rather than nursing separations will make everyone happier.

Let’s all choose a welcoming attitude and build a sense of community with one another. And once we are beyond the pandemic, we can live out our dreams together.

By the way, you, too, can obtain your River Road Community Organization lawn sign by going to the website and ordering one up. That would be a good start toward choosing a welcoming attitude.


Disclaimer: This article is 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.

River Road Community Update #255

By Carleen Reilly

Coronavirus, Neighborhood Planning, and meeting cancellation. Well, dear friends, a lot has changed on the health front since my last message to you. Info about how to take care of yourself, family, friends, neighbors, and the larger community abound. Thus, I will not repeat it here. This crisis makes us particularly aware that building community connectedness is critical to health, well-being, and survival. This crisis thoroughly reveals ‘why’ ‘Community’ has been built permanently into our neighborhood planning efforts.

This link isn’t the most recent version of the draft plan, but it covers all categories. Most changes are to combine, wordsmith, and move actions from one category to the other. Please look at the Community goals, policies, and actions. Some of the critical work supports our vital services, like fire protection, water delivery, law enforcement, and emergency preparedness. https://www.eugene-or.gov/DocumentCenter/View/48190/November-2019-Draft-of-Goals-Policies-and-Actions

As a result of the virus, most community meetings have been cancelled, including our Land Use Conversations. 🙁 If you were planning to attend something, you may want to check to see if it has been cancelled.

RRCO Board meeting. Monday evening, the RRCO Board met virtually. Joshua Kielas set things up on Zoom, and members carried on! Here’s an iteration of meetings cancelled that are known:

  • Land Use Conversations
  • Affordable Housing Meeting
  • Coffee with the Chief at Black Rock
  • Mulch-a-Palooza (rescheduling uncertain)
  • Community Advisory Committee meeting was not scheduled for Spring Vacation.
  • River Road Park and Recreation District classes and activities are closed from March 14 through March 31. Reassessment will be made later. Scheduling for Spring classes continues by phone at 541-688-4052 or message through their Facebook page.

The March General meeting was discussed. Contact will be made with candidates to see if they would submit information about their qualifications and proposals for their races that could be distributed to neighbors. Another option is to hold a ‘virtual’ meeting with the neighborhood, just as the RRCO Board had, if the candidates are also willing to participate. It is time to employ 21st century technology to keep ourselves connected and make progress on our projects.

  • WEDNESDAY, March 19, 2020, 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. Let’s Talk Land: Neighborhood Plan Community Conversations. Cancelled.
  • FRIDAY, March 20, 2020, 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Police Chief Skinner.  Cancelled. 
  • SATURDAY, March 21, 2020, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00. Mulch-A-Palooza 2020.  Cancelled.
  • TUESDAY, April 7, 2020, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Let’s Talk Land: Neighborhood Plan Community Conversations.  Cancelled.
  • SATURDAY, April 18, 2020, 11:00 to 2:00 p.m. Annual Awbrey Park Wildflower Walk and Santa Clara Community Celebration. 

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.

River Road Community Update #248

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.

Calendar

  • 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. cepddrrscplan@ci.eugene.or.us
  • 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. cepddrrscplan@ci.eugene.or.us
  • 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. cepddrrscplan@ci.eugene.or.us
  • 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. cepddrrscplan@ci.eugene.or.us
  • 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. cepddrrscplan@ci.eugene.or.us
  • 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. cepddrrscplan@ci.eugene.or.us

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.

Pushing Back on Cars Presentation

Presentation by Jan Spencer
Tuesday, Dec 3, 6:30
River Road Recreation Center, 1400 Lake Drive, River Road Neighborhood

A growing number of cities and towns all over the world are pushing back on cars. Parklets, Intersection Repair, community plazas, congestion pricing, redesign of streets and limiting cars and trucks from city centers are only a few push back approaches. Nijmegen and Groningen, Holland; Copenhagen, Oslo and Madrid can boast of impressive strategies – and results – for encouraging bike, walking or transit trips rather than cars. Barcelona, Spain’s Super Block Program is perhaps the world’s most ambitious effort at car push back to reclaim streets for people, public health and livability. Even New York City is active in pushing back on cars.

Pushing back on cars can happen at home as well – take out the driveway and replace with food production, turn a garage into living space.

The Dec 3 slide show/presentation will touch on the history of pushing back on cars in the US, describing highways in the US that have been removed such as the Embarcadero Freeway in San Francisco and highways prevented such as the Southwest Corridor in Boston. Critical Mass bike rides and Parking Day are grass roots examples of pushing back on cars. Eugene’s Sunday Streets is a mild push back on cars.

Times Square in NYC is only the most well known example of dozens of Community Plazas in New York City. The Vauban Neighborhood in Freiberg, Germany is a vacated and repurposed French military base that was purposefully designed to dramatically reduce the presence and use of cars. In Eugene, turning River Road into an EmX corridor would also include new bike lane design that would give bike riders much greater protection from car traffic.

Jan will also show a new proposed bike map of Eugene that would take lanes of traffic from various streets and turn them into a city wide network of protected bike ways.

Finally, a review – the benefits of pushing back on cars.

Please join us for a fascinating presentation and Please forward this message.

More info at http://suburbanpermaculture.org and related podcasts at https://player.whooshkaa.com/shows/creating-a-resilient-future

This image from Groningen, Holland. A small city with a population about the same as Eugene and Springfield. The scene show part of the bike park at the railway station.

Another town in Holland. Car free center of the city. You cannot drive across town.You have to go out to the ring road and drive in. Its faster and easier to ride a bike for trips between neighborhoods.

Resilience Festival Followup and Video

Over 300 people enjoyed the Community Resilience Festival on Aug 24th! They browsed, tabled, heard about solutions for resilience from speakers, and collaborated on ideas for community action such as a local food system network. A banner was created to represent River Road in the Eugene Parade. Thanks to all who participated and made this event such a success!

There are pictures and comments on https://www.facebook.com/River-Road-Community-Organization

If you weren’t able to make it but are interested in seeing some of what happened you can watch video that has graciously been taken and made available by Todd Boyle.

Plenary Talks:
Jan Spencer – “Towards A Green and Resilient Culture and Economy”
https://youtu.be/YSaLrs7iFjs?t=325
Terry McDonald, Executive Director of St. Vincent de Paul – “St. Vinnies Builds Community Economic Resilience”
https://youtu.be/YSaLrs7iFjs?t=1032
Charlie Tilt and Kate Perle – “Local Food Systems Build Regional Resilience”
https://youtu.be/YSaLrs7iFjs?t=1622
Clare Strawn – “Creating a Regenerative and Resilient Local Economy”
https://youtu.be/YSaLrs7iFjs?t=3377

Residential Coops:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8cjoEIy9v0&t=1449s
Skeeter Duke – East Blair Housing Cooperative
Rob Bolman – Maitreya Eco Village
Tom Atlee – Walnut Street Co-op
Joanne Fox – PDX Commons, Portland