Slant 1-31-2013

• The proposed $10 a month stormwater fee hike has been reduced to $5 after a public outcry against it and doubts that the City Council would approve it. But some interesting ideas have surfaced that might be worth pursuing as the city struggles to raise much-needed revenues. One proposal kicking around unofficial email lists is changing our city stormwater fee to reflect the footprint of living units and other impermeable spaces. Under such a plan, Chip Kelly’s huge mansion with its basketball court, paved parking and large outdoor pool would pay an additional fee on top of the normal stormwater charge. A student apartment with street parking might not pay anything extra. We hear other cities have done this with some success. Citizens might be inclined to support such a billing system because it would not be such a burden on low-income apartment and house dwellers. 

A direct relationship exists between the square footage of impermeable surface and the volume of stormwater runoff that needs to be piped and treated before it goes into the river. An extra fee might encourage the tearing up of some concrete parking areas to be replaced with permeable surfaces. Architects would have a financial justification for designing eco-friendly parking areas. We see on that Chicago is planning to replace 1,900 miles of back-alley concrete with permeable surfaces to filter millions of gallons of stormwater currently polluting Lake Michigan. Ashland has some small commercial parking lots (dentist offices, etc.) that look like lawns from a distance, but up close you see ordinary bricks with holes, turned sideways, filled with sand and planted with grass seed.

• Want a back issue of EW? Call Portland’s Willamette Week. After the “Off the Grid” episode of Portlandia, mocking the way readers prefer short links over the actual news they might link to, was shot in our northern neighbor’s offices, WW posted an annotated office guide to what was visible on screen including, apparently, EW’s unofficial archives: a bookshelf of two-decades worth of our rag. Thanks WW, we read you too but we also recycle.

• Tone deaf, out-of-control and careless with cash are some of the accusations we’ve been hearing about Lane County’s money issues lately. Rather than look into ideas like cutting upper-level salaries to help with the county’s public safety and budget trauma, the R-G reports that the county instead put it on the table to raise controversial County Administrator Liane Richardson’s salary from $152,345 to $175,656 and the newest county counsel, Stephen Dingle, from $145,995 to $166,400. The vote would have been on the same day the County Commission discussed a tax levy for public safety. Dingle and Richardson decided to “table” the discussion until later. That’s nice. How about the county holds off on tens of thousands of dollars in raises until it comes up with a sustainable way to pay for public safety as well as programs for low-income families and those in need?

• After listening to two civic-minded business owners and one city traffic engineer Jan. 25 at the City Club of Eugene, we still have at least one persistent, unanswered question about the South Willamette traffic snarl. Paul Moore, owner of Arriving by Bike, Scott Landfield, owner of Tsunami Books and Chris Henry, city traffic engineer, were the speakers. Our question: What will development of the Civic Stadium site do to South Willamette’s traffic riddle? Now that School District 4-J has decided against building a new Roosevelt junior high in the civic space, maybe the district, the city, the YMCA, all the fans of soccer, track, summer music, parks and open space can come up with a historic solution for that precious acreage. The pressure’s on to do something before Willamette Street is torn up yet again.

• It’s good people are paying attention to the Oregon State Aviation Board, which meets to rule on Waldo Lake and seaplanes this week. We expect a lot of opposition from the public at this meeting, but board members have unanimously been in favor of allowing seaplanes to use Waldo, with some rather meaningless restrictions that ignore the dangers to this pristine gem of the Cascades. We will see if this board represents the interests of the people of Oregon or the few wealthy pilots. The hearing begins at 6 pm Thursday, Jan. 31, at the Willamalane Center in Springfield. 

Cynthia Wooten, prime mover of the Oregon Country Fair, Eugene Celebration, Saturday Market and other institutions that have shaped Eugene, brought us the Good Works Film Festival last fall showing the extraordinary labor documentary Brothers on the Line, and we hear the DVD is now available to check out at the Eugene Public Library downtown. Wooten makes her home in Berkeley these days but keeps returning, always with interesting projects. We hear she’s back in town this week planning for another Good Works indie film, In the Family by Patrick Wang, about two gay men raising a son in Tennessee. Screening dates will be March 16 and 17. Stay tuned.

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