Missing middle housing, sanctuary laws, Trump and more!

• What is “missing middle housing”? Is it missing in Eugene? And since it is, how do we remedy that? Those are the questions, and answers, Josh Skov and Kaarin Knudson laid out to the City Club of Eugene on June 9. The “missing middle” is the duplex, triplex, fourplex, courtyard apartment, bungalow, townhouse, multiplex and live-work arrangement. It is missing increasingly in Eugene, in part causing a crisis in affordability. The city can step up with code and zoning changes, plus incentivizing and showing examples. Councilors Alan Zelenka and Betty Taylor as well as Mayor Lucy Vinis all attended the meeting, which left us at that bottom line: How to make it profitable to build “missing middle” housing and how to raise incomes so our working people can afford it?

• Kudos to the 29 Lane County residents who spoke out in support of sanctuary laws in front of the Lane County commissioners June 13. Commissioners Pat Farr and Pete Sorenson expressed their discontent with how slow the progress has moved along. While the language of a county sanctuary measure is still uncertain, the strong public showing of support is crucial to push county government towards adopting an inclusive and welcoming community for all immigrants.

Trump’s administration took on the climate kids and didn’t come out looking so good in this round. Eugene-based nonprofit Our Children’s Trust has a case, Juliana v. United States, against the federal government alleging that the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs — ages 9 to 21 — were violated by the government’s promotion of the production of fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gases. They argue this harms the climate, which the government has a legal responsibility to protect for the public good. On June 9 in Eugene, Judge Ann Aiken denied a Trump administration move to keep the lawsuit from going to trial.

• As long as we’re talking about the climate, at 7:30 pm June 26 the Eugene City Council will decide whether to adopt the Eugene Transportation System Plan. According to Eugene’s own greenhouse-gas inventory, transportation accounts for one-third of community-wide emissions, Matt McRae of Our Children’s Trust tells us. He says, “Significantly greater investment in biking, walking and busing will be required in order to meet the City Council’s aggressive climate goals.”  Now is the time to weigh in with your city councilor and ask them for a transportation ban that meets our community climate goals.

• We applaud the (relatively inexpensive) moves the city is making to make downtown more fun, such as the new eating deck in the Park Blocks and planned activities like movies and games. It’s a huge improvement over ticketing people for sitting on low walls and locking broken bicycles to planters so people can’t sit down. Two questions: Will the city do more to help the unhoused, who are clearly being pushed out by more recent moves like the dog ban? And why didn’t the city listen to all the local smart people who have advocated for improvements like outdoor seating? Local businessman Ali Emami has called for outdoor seating in Kesey Square for years, but local politics clearly needed the nudge from an outside consulting firm with its $160,000 fee. Maybe that was the only way to get to the right result this time.

• What we’re reading: The Thing With Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds and What They Reveal About Being Human by Noah Strycker, the nationally known bird expert from Creswell (and full disclosure: Strycker is the son of EW Arts Editor Bob Keefer). It’s Strycker’s second book, published in 2014, and will be followed by a third this fall, Birding Without Borders: An Obsession, a Quest, and the Biggest Year in the World, about his “big year” birding around the world. We can hardly wait. His writing helps us fly away from our despair about Donald Trump.

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