As Paul Conte stated in “Housing For the Rich” (EW 8/12), the Eugene Planning Division staff has conducted a misinformation campaign to push an agenda instead of providing honest, unbiased facts to citizens. Staff have also kept most primary stakeholders, i.e., property owners, from meaningful participation in how the city responds to HB 2001.
The staff’s manipulation of the process to amend zoning for accessory dwellings demonstrates how unwilling it is to engage with residents that will be impacted by major changes.
The Jefferson Westside Neighbors elected leaders have tried repeatedly since April to meet with the planning staff to seek common ground on possible modifications. Not until mid-August did the staff agree to a one-hour Zoom meeting; after which its response was a set of objections that had no basis in law or city policies. The staff then claimed that even considering the JWN recommendations would cause “significant delays.”
City planners should be willing to meaningfully engage citizens, particularly residents living in neighborhoods that will be transformed by the proposed changes. Current city staff and planning management seem driven by ideology to promote their agenda because “they know best.” Sadly, the City Manager has allowed this attitude to go unchecked.
The City Council should require that this process engage actual residents, not just advocacy groups such as the Realtors Association. If the staff ultimately push councilors to simply rubber stamp its proposals, the result will harm poorer households and provoke further mistrust of local government.