Well, so now it has come to this. Former Eugene mayor and downtown developer Brian Obie has apparently persuaded the Eugene City Council into granting him an additional 30-foot height variance for his latest 5th Street project, another multi-story abomination.
Under the disingenuous rationale that the extra height is necessary to secure “sufficient financing” for the project to move forward — i.e. to make the scheme profitable — as if he cannot afford to deface the Eugene skyline on his own buck. Obie is not satisfied with his current height exemption which granted his projects 70 feet. He now claims he needs 95.
Obie’s latest venture will not only compromise the natural beauty of one of Eugene’s most distinctive and well-loved landmarks, Skinner Butte, it will further sully the historic ambience of the 5th Street historic district — a portion of which Obie once had a hand in preserving. How’s that for perverse irony?
One would think that Eugene’s former mayor would have a vested interest in honoring and safeguarding the natural beauty of the landscape feature named after the town’s founder, rather than obscure the view enjoyed by its residents and visitors, all for the sake of short-term financial feasibility, beneficial to mainly the developers.
I am saddened and discouraged by the maddening pursuit of profit now rendering many of Eugene’s treasured establishments to rubble — the Glenwood Campus Café and the Excelsior Inn Ristorante being just the latest to fall. Will we soon see Skinner Butte’s own Shelton McMurphy Johnson House mansion sacrificed to the gods of filthy lucre?
Bob Dylan said it best: “Money doesn’t talk, it swears.”