RRCO Board Testimony for River Road / Santa Clara Neighborhood Plan Hearing

      River Road Community Organization                                The River and Garden District

Date: March 11, 2024

From: River Road Community Organization Executive Board
To: RRSCPlan@eugene-or.gov.
Re: Testimony for River Road /Santa Clara Neighborhood Plan and Code Amendments Hearing before Eugene City Council and Lane County Commission
Dear elected officials,

We, the members of the River Road Community Organization Board, are writing in unanimous support of the Draft River Road/Santa Clara Neighborhood Plan being submitted by the Eugene Planning staff, the RR/SC Community Advisory Committee, and the River Road and Santa Clara community organizations.

For the past seven 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 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 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, the River Road Community Organization Board has identified three core areas of opportunity that were eliminated from the plan. As these are central to the desires of our community, we are committed as a board to continue to advocate for them to meet the needs of River Road residents. 

  1. No Parking Resolution for County Streets:  Lane County controls 76% of River Road Local Streets (58% of Santa Clara’s) and they have little 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 become more intense.  Many of the county streets in our neighborhoods are not developed to urban standards and have limited capacity to accommodate the overflow parking almost certain to occur.   Without some way to regulate on-street parking, further densification will lead to more unsafe streets in our neighborhoods.

Howard Meadows, an under construction Middle Housing development at Lake Drive just north of Howard Avenue, illustrates our concern. The project consists of 11-fourplex lots, appearing to have 2 on-site parking places each.  The planned Safe Routes to School project to be built this summer will only allow on-street parking on the north side of Howard Avenue.  Howard Meadows residents with additional cars will be parking on Rosewood Avenue which is a one-lane County Local Access Road with limited off-site parking opportunities. Eight other nearby streets are also under County jurisdiction with neither capacity nor authority to regulate parking.  This and many other middle housing projects in our neighborhoods will likely result in parking conflicts for neighbors just like we have seen on the streets surrounding ECCO apartments off River Road.

We request that the City Council direct the City Manager to explore and report to the

Council potential solutions to the parking issues in our Neighborhoods as part of the Climate Friendly and Equitable Community Parking Reform process.

2.  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 which would have required commercial use on the ground floor 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. 

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.

At the February 20,2024 Council Public Hearing, staff presented proposed code to require that the building frontage for C-1 & C-2 Mixed-Use Residential Developments include either 80% or 60% of the ground floor be used for commercial or non-residential purposes1. We are requesting that similar language be adopted for C-2 buildings in River Road and Santa Clara.  We also question why it is important to preserve commercial uses in C-2 when middle housing is a component of a building but not in the C-2 zoned properties in our neighborhoods likely developed at even higher density. 

We request that the City Council direct the City Manager to conduct a feasibility study to determine how to encourage more commercial services in the River Road/Santa Clara area and report the results to the City Council for your consideration.

3. 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 we 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 seven 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.

We request that the public record remain open for 7 days after the hearing for additional public testimony.

Thank you for your consideration,

/s/ River Road Community Organization Board Members


1. (from City Council Agenda Page 72 February 20, 2024 Public Hearing – Item 4)

9.2161 Commercial Zone – Land Use and Permit Requirements Special Use Limitations:

(6)  In the C-2 zone, up to two dwellings are allowed in a structure

if the ground floor of the structure is used for commercial or non-residential purposes consistent with Table 9.2161.