After five years and thousands of hours of neighbor’s collaboration, the Draft Neighborhood Plan is ready to move to the next step. The RRCO Executive Board has unanimously agreed on our feedback on the Draft Plan, Action Plan & Proposed Code Amendments to the Neighborhood Plan Community Advisory Committee (CAC). In summary we support the Plan documents, but we list three areas of concern that have been eliminated from the draft documents.
The CAC will meet on July 27th to review the feedback from both the River Road and the Santa Clara Community Organizations and craft their response to the Eugene and Lane County Planning Commissions.
Those Commissions will then deliberate to review the proposed documents and forwarded River Road / Santa Clara recommendation and prepare their joint recommendation to be presented at a public hearing sometime in the Fall. Once they review that public feedback, they will produce a recommendation to the City Council and County Commission who will also hold a public hearing and eventually produce an ordinance implementing a new River Road /Santa Clara Neighborhood Plan, Code Amendments and an Action Plan to guide our Neighborhoods’ development over the next 30 years. And to think it only took six years!
Following the RRCO charter, the general membership of RRCO will have an opportunity to vote on the Board’s letter of approval. We will have time for questions, discussion, and potential membership action on substantive issues at the beginning of Monday’s General Meeting.
Here is the RRCO Board letter to the Plan Community Advisory Committee:
Dear Mayor Vinis and Members of the City,
We, the members of the River Road Community Organization Board, are writing in support of the Draft River Road/Santa Clara Neighborhood Plan being submitted by the Eugene Planning staff, in conjunction with the Community Advisory Committee, and the River Road and Santa Clara Community Organizations.
For the past 6 years, our community and board members have engaged in this effort with enthusiasm and with the needs of our unique and fast-growing neighborhood in mind. The plan does not address all of the requirements outlined as part of the Envision Eugene initiative; however, we have heard from our community via a variety of vehicles and believe that the current draft should proceed through the adoption process, moving us forward from the refinement plan of 1986 that currently guides the development for our area. We are ready to partner with the City and County to move the draft plan forward and are willing to accept some of the shortcomings of the document in order to proceed.
While the new plan will define much of the direction for the neighborhood, we have identified three core areas of opportunity that were eliminated from the plan. As these three areas of opportunity are core to the desires of our community, we are committed as a board to continue to advocate for resolution of these issues to meet the needs of River Road residents. These are:
- No Parking Resolution for County Streets: Lane County controls 76% of River Road Local Streets (58% of Santa Clara) and they have negligible capacity to enforce on-street parking standards. The reduction in on-site parking requirements through the middle housing code amendments and other State standards means that our experience with parking overflow near ECCO housing will just become more intense. Many of the County Local streets in our neighborhoods aren’t developed to urban standards and have limited capacity to accommodate the overflow parking almost certain to occur with new properties lacking minimum on-site parking requirements. Without some way to regulate on-street parking on a significant majority of our streets, further densification will lead to more unsafe streets in our neighborhoods. One potential resolution would be for the City Manager to include deliberation on how to address the issue as part of the Climate Friendly and Equitable Community Parking Reform process.
- Potential Loss of Commercial Properties: When we asked our neighbors to set goals for the Neighborhood Plan, they placed strong emphasis on having more commercial opportunities, especially restaurants, gathering spots & groceries. They also called for 20 Minute Neighborhoods– businesses they could easily walk or bike to. However, the staff decision to eliminate the proposed Corridor Mixed Use zone leaves the majority of our current Commercial properties in the C-2 Community Commercial Zone. This zone allows 100% of the properties in the zone to be residential with no commercial at all. The eliminated Corridor Mixed Use zone would have required commercial use on the ground floor.
The economic study included in Sera Architect’s River Road Corridor Study showed that economic demand for housing is high and commercial use is low. Without regulation requiring it or some kind of incentive to encourage it, the commercial facilities we currently have may well be replaced by multifamily housing that ironically will create an even greater need for the commercial properties they replace. We encourage the City to conduct a feasibility study to determine how to encourage more commercial services in the River Road/Santa Clara area.
- Need for Neighborhood Specific Regulations for the River Road Corridor: We continue to believe that we need neighborhood-specific regulations to guide the development of the River Road corridor. We appreciate the C2 code changes proposed instead of a special area zone but recommend that you reconsider a one-size-fits-all ordinance for all seven corridors, as proposed to be enacted in 2026.
We wish to recognize the efforts of the Eugene Planning staff, the RRCO and SCCO boards, the Community Advisory Committee, and all of the members of our joint communities who have engaged with us over these past 6 years to reach this milestone. It is our hope that we will continue to collaborate over the coming years as we work to implement the Action Plan and resolve our parking, commercial, and corridor issues.
With kindest regards,
River Road Community Organization Board Members