Our Public Emergency

There has been quite a bit of anger and frustration on all sides recently regarding our challenges of both homelessness and downtown business survival. I share these feelings and still believe the City Hall lot is the right place for a temporary day center, at the very least, and an overnight Dusk to Dawn.

It will not work to continue to ask people to change their behaviors when there are no alternative choices. 

I also believe there was insufficient outreach to homeless advocates, the homeless themselves and the business community. The lack of shelter and restrooms downtown is an emergency.

However, the proposal was announced with so little time no one could ask questions, consider options or speak to the Eugene City Council before our work session and vote. 

People do not feel heard. People are stirred up. On the good side, this gives us an opportunity and energy to connect. After all, that is our end goal — to work together to find equitable solutions for these critical issues of safe shelter for, and decriminalization of, our vulnerable unhoused and a safe, welcoming-to-all, thriving and successful downtown. 

I urge all of us to take this chance to communicate with each other, assume good intentions, leave behind boycotts (they worked; let’s see what happens), be open to outreach and respond thoughtfully to suggestions. 

Come together, right now, and give peace a chance. It’s really the only way we will succeed.

Emily Semple

Eugene City Council, Ward 1