Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Courthouse: Forms and materials move us
Happenin' People: Guadalupe Moreno, Renee Damon and Nancy Bray
TEETERING ON SPRAWL
The Eugene City Council teetered on the verge of urban sprawl last week.
The council on Jan. 17 split 4-4 on whether to launch a land supply study that would be the first step toward expanding the urban growth boundary. Such an expansion is a long-sought goal of local developers and land speculators who would make a windfall turning farm and forest land into cul-de-sacs.
Mayor Kitty Piercy broke the tie vote in favor of delaying the inventory. Her vote supported the votes of Councilors Bonny Bettman, Betty Taylor, Andrea Ortiz and Alan Zelenka. Councilors Mike Clark, Jennifer Solomon, George Poling and Chris Pryor voted to speed up the survey.
At issue was whether the city update its land supply survey years before required to do so by state law. State law requires cities to periodically perform a study showing they have an adequate supply of land for housing, commercial and industrial development. Eugene's next residential land study isn't due until 2015, and the commercial and residential land studies aren't due until 2010, according to city attorney Emily Jerome.
The city estimates that it currently has a "generous surplus of commercial and industrial land," 122 and 2,404 acres respectively, and a "modest surplus," 350 acres, supply of residential land remaining.
But developers and their conservative allies on the council hotly dispute those numbers and argue that the city should do detailed continuous studies to make its land supply numbers more accurate.
"It's essential to know how current and accurate" the land supply numbers are, argued Pryor.
But progressive councilors said constantly updating the land supply studies, which often take years to complete and adopt, would be too expensive, time consuming and unworkable and would circumvent the long established state process.
"As soon as you do a study, that one's dated," Zelenka said. The city couldn't have a totally up-to-date study "without spending an enormous amount of money."
"This would be a total shift in the way we go about looking at things," Piercy said. Cities throughout Oregon follow the state rules that it's "reasonable" to update the land studies every 20 years, she said.
A decade ago, Eugene residents overwhelmingly supported holding the urban growth boundary in city surveys, which led to the council adopting a growth management policy to "support the existing Eugene urban growth boundary by taking actions to increase density." Since 1950, Eugene's population density has declined 29 percent due to urban sprawl. — Alan Pittman
MARCH ON WASHINGTON SATURDAY
A peace march predicted to be the largest since the Iraq War began is planned for Saturday, Jan. 27, in Washington, D.C., and a contingency from Lane County is on its way there, along with confirmed groups from 30 states and 111 cities.
The purpose of the protest, organized by United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), is to urge Congress to stand up to President Bush's war escalation plans, and to begin bringing U.S. troops home now.
MoveOn.org has called upon its 3.2 million members to join UFPJ, describing the march as potentially a "turning point for the war" comparable to how "Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington in 1963 was a turning point in the fight for equality and civil rights," according to the MoveOn website.
Six Eugene-area peace activists have announced they are flying to Washington, D.C., Thursday and will join the Saturday march through the streets of the Capitol. They will be participating in teach-ins and lobbying Sunday and Monday and will return Tuesday.
Eugene activists Pam Garrison, Doe Tabor, Karla Cohen, Rich Klopfer, Michael Carrigan and Aria Seligmann will be representing Oregon Women's Action for New Directions (WAND), Eugene Code Pink, Justice Not War and CALC's Progressive Responses.
"Now that peace is within reach, the Democrats not only need our support, but also our encouragement," reads a statement from the group. "By marching in the streets and lobbying, we are showing that we hold the people we elect accountable."
The group adds that they want to "put pressure on our elected officials to move them to actually do something that's definitive and binding."
Speakers slated at the pre-march rally include Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, the Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr.; Rep. Dennis Kucinich; Rep. Maxine Waters; Bob Watada, father of Lt. Watada; and several Iraq veterans.
For more information on the weekend events, visit www.unitedforpeace.org
GOOD EARTH HOME SHOW
Want to make your home more eco-friendly? Want more birds and butterflies in your backyard? Want to make a fortune providing green products and services? Want to restore a vintage trailer house? There's a bit of something for everybody at this weekend's Good Earth Home, Garden & Living Show at the Lane County Fairgrounds.
The show, unique in the U.S., begins at 5 pm Friday and runs from 11 am to 8 pm Saturday and 11 am to 5 pm Sunday. Admission is free.
More than 250 environmentally friendly businesses are displaying their goods and services, 40 seminars and workshops are planned and nationally known designers and authors will be presenting.
Among the speakers are Rebekah Green, an expert on the design and construction of modern green buildings and passive solar homes. Julie Lewis, president of Jade Planet, Inc., will talk about venture capital in eco-entrepreneurship. Marc Vassalo will talk about his book, The Barefoot Home & the New Informality. Other authors include Barbara Ashmum, Kris Wetherbee, Elizabeth Grossman, Heather Flores, Harry Wiland and William Sullivan.
See www.EugeneHomeShow.com for details or call 484-9247.
REY HERE FOR FORUM ON WORKERS
Federal officials including Mark Rey, USDA undersecretary for Natural Resources and the Environment and Alex Passantino, deputy administrator of the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division, will be in Eugene Wednesday, Jan. 31, to discuss new efforts to protect the health and safety of contract workers on national forest lands. The officials will hear comments from the public.
The forum will be held from 1:30 to 5 pm Jan. 31 in the Pittman Room at the Len Casanova Center, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, near Autzen Stadium. Sustainable Northwest, the UO-Ecosystem Workforce Program, Watershed Research and Training Center, Communities Committee, Alliance of Forest Workers and Harvesters and the UO are sponsoring the event with participation from the Forest Service and the Department of Labor.
The Forest Service has made changes in contracting rules for seasonal workers who perform various tasks on national forest lands. Those changes include recognizing and reporting health and safety violations; providing safe housing for workers when housing is provided; and ensuring that contractor violations be a factor in evaluating future bid awards. Contractors provide a variety of work in the forests including tree thinning, brush removal, stream restoration and fire fighting.
Those wishing to address the forum can sign up when registration begins at 12:30 pm and will have three minutes to speak. People can also provide written comments. For more information visit www.sustainablenorthwest.orgor http://ewp.uoregon.edu
DANGERS OF ARTISTIC EXPRESSION
Steve Kurtz made national headlines several years ago when he was accused of bioterrorism after police found lab equipment and books on bioweaponry at his home, all part of a harmless art project. Kurtz, an artist and professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo, will talk about the convergence of art, technology and radical politics during a free public lecture at 7 pm Thursday, Jan. 25 in Room 177, Lawrence Hall at the UO
Kurtz will speak on the topic "Art and Discipline" which, he says, will explore why violence against cultural resistance has escalated and intensified over the past five years.
The case against Kurtz began to unfold on May 11, 2004 when he called 911 after his wife, Hope, died at home of heart failure. Police officers who responded to the call saw the body, the lab equipment and the books and alerted the FBI. Kurtz was using the lab to produce harmless bacteria as part of a video installation on bioterrorism.
Federal agents impounded Kurtz's equipment — including Petri dishes, test tubes and computers — and seized his wife's body from the coroner. He and his collaborator Robert Ferrell, former chair of the Genetics Department at the Graduate School of Public Health, at the University of Pittsburgh, were accused of bioterrorism and mail fraud each potentially carrying a sentence of 20 years.
Both men are members of the Critical Art Ensemble. Members use high school lab equipment and common household supplies to create art installations that publicize the increasingly privatized worlds of science, technology and information.
"Marching Plague," an exhibition for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, was one of the projects Kurtz was working on when the federal agents seized his laboratory equipment and his library, correspondence and computers.
Lane County Herbicide Spray Schedule
The Oregon Legislature is expected to deal with issues of pesticide spraying this session. In 2006, 800,000 acres of aerial or ground herbicide applications were identified in Oregon Department of Forestry notifications filed between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30. Of those 800,000 acres statewide, Lane County had 74,468 acres, Lincoln County had 24,577 acres, Benton County had 16,545 acres, Linn County had 65,914 acres and Douglas County contributed 321,782 acres. Visit www.forestlanddwellers.org for details of locations, land owners and operators for these herbicide applications.
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
Lane County commissioners and public safety officials are brewing up another try at an income tax to support the Sheriff's Office, jails, drug treatment and other public safety needs, and we hear animal control will be included this time for several reasons: Animal control is a responsibility of county government, it sort of falls under public safety and it's a popular program bound to garner some votes. Adequate funding of animal control could lead to better investigation of animal abuse cases, more spaying and neutering and a no-kill policy for adoptable animals. What would make a new tax even more attractive, however, would be an increase in the share of funding that goes to crime prevention and intervention and a lower overall tax than was on the ballot last November. Another challenge facing the county in passing this tax is the double majority rule. Except in general elections, money measures require a 50 percent voter turnout in addition to a majority of votes. The 2007 state Legislature is expected to address this problem one more time, but don't hold your breath.
So what happens now that the best laid plans have gone astray for the public-private partnership that would have built a Whole Foods Market on East Broadway? The commercial site near the new U.S. Courthouse is prime property, and we predict something good will eventually be built there. Whole Foods is reportedly looking at building somewhere else in Eugene on a less expensive site, but that doesn't make much sense to us. Downtown is destined to get a big influx of housing and commercial development, and city subsidies are available there and not on the outskirts. Where else would Whole Foods build? Market of Choice is already meeting the demand for gourmet food shopping in north, south and east Eugene, Trader Joe's is a hot spot in the Ferry Street Bridge area, and the chain groceries are filling in the gaps for neighborhood shopping. We love the little corner groceries downtown. Maybe all that Eugene's growing downtown population needs is just another locally owned Kiva-style store on East Broadway — sharing a building with restaurants and apartments.
The cancellation of Whole Foods downtown puts the proposed adjacent city parking garage on hold, and that's fine with us. We can debate all day whether or not the garage would have been a subsidy for Whole Foods. One thing for certain: We can find a better use for the $7 million to $10 million earmarked for that concrete bunker. What would better serve downtown and the people of Eugene? Send your suggestions for how to better spend $10 million to email@example.com
Our cover story this week examines the potential devastation of Measure 37 claims, most of which are outside of urban growth boundaries. These claims violate the spirit, if not the letter, of Oregon's land use laws and directly impact our state's liveability. Meanwhile, growing pains are evident in neighborhoods in Eugene that abut forests and farmlands. Even without Measure 37 claims, we are encroaching on our urban growth boundary, and in the process residents are seeing their neighborhoods change for the worse. Quiet paths through woods and meadows are being bulldozed for expensive housing developments. We hear Churchill Area Neighbors will be meeting this week to talk about the paving over of forest land and a natural meadow at the top of Hawkins.
Looking for a new career in sustainable energy? Become a plumber's apprentice! We hear there's a big demand for qualified solar water heating installers in the valley. We also hear Springfield and Eugene could become manufacturing centers for for solar water heating systems. A lot of information on solar energy and other sustainable technology and practices can be found at the Good Earth Home, Garden & Living Show this weekend at the Fairgrounds. This is going to be a remarkable and fun show and we encourage everyone to check it out. Website is www.EugeneHomeShow.com
People come and go at Eugene Weekly, as reflected in changes in the "Who You Gonna Blame?" box in the Letters section. We only write about these changes when the person leaving is well known, such Lois Wadsworth, who retired last year as our arts editor. But we're getting calls and emails asking what happened to our reporter Kera Abraham. We were sad to see her leave in mid-January. She was recruited by a larger alternative newsweekly in California. Kera is a rising star in environmental investigative journalism and has gained a national reputation based on her work for EW the past two and a half years. Don't be surprised to see her at the Eugene Celebration, Oregon Country Fair and the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference. She says she loves Eugene and plans to return as often as she can.
SLANT includes short opinion pieces, observations and rumor-chasing notes compiled by the EW staff. Heard any good rumors lately? Contact Ted Taylor at 484-0519, firstname.lastname@example.org
GUADALUPE MORENO, RENEE DAMON, AND NANCY BRAY
As a kid growing up in Lane County, Nancy Bray earned summer spending money picking beans in area farm fields. "I became aware that there were families out there picking for their basic needs," she says. Bray volunteered with the Migrant Ministry while in high school. Later, at the UO, she boycotted the EMU for serving non-UFW union lettuce. Since graduation, she has taught in Springfield schools for 30 years. When she began teaching English Language Learners in the mid-'90s, one of her first bilingual assistants was Guadalupe Moreno, recently arrived from Baja California. "I had two years of English classes at LCC," says Moreno. "I was lucky to get the job and help the Latino community." Since 2003, Bray and Moreno have worked together as director and coodinator of the Lane Education Service District's Migrant Education Program, providing educational and social service support to children of migrant workers. A native of Winston, Ore., Renee Damon has served seven years as program assistant for the MEP, managing the paperwork to satisfy state and federal regulations.