City Planners Keep Us In The Dark

Almost no one who owns or rents a single-family home in Eugene has the slightest awareness that Eugene city planners have drafted new zoning code that will rip apart many of Eugene’s neighborhoods, leaving their destinies entirely to predatory investors. As Paul Conte explains in “Housing for the Rich” (EW, 8/12), investors will maximize profits by replacing smaller, more affordable rental homes with large, expensive multi-plex apartments.

Planning staff have intentionally chosen not to send notices to all affected property owners or renters. Instead, staff have carefully orchestrated the so-called “Middle Housing” project (aka “HB 2001 code amendments”) so that vested interests and deregulation zealots have the inside track and are used to create the illusion of meaningful public input. 

Staff deceptively described alternative levels of deregulation as removing barriers to encourage and incentivize more housing development. When expressing their preferences, most ordinary citizens thought this meant encouraging or incentivizing more housing that low-income households could afford. But in staff’s recommended code amendments, all the incentives accrue only to investors who seek to redevelop and gentrify neighborhoods.

Put bluntly, the city planners — who are paid by homeowners through property taxes — are running a faux public process to keep the public in the dark about what the planners are really up to until it will be too late for citizens to be able to have a meaningful voice in the future of our neighborhoods.

Rene Kane