Organizers with the Oregon Community Rights Network (OCRN) have launched a campaign to put a constitutional amendment on the Oregon ballot in November 2016 that will affirm the right to local self-government and potentially reframe how environmental debates play out.
The amendment would protect the right of local governments to pass ordinances — even if they conflict with the interests of corporations — and ensure that these ordinances are legally binding.
Motorcyclists may see some new laws on the books after this legislative session, including ones that would let them filter through traffic jams and pass through some red lights. BikePAC of Oregon — the main motorcycle lobby group in the state — has been working hard to persuade legislators to take up a few motorcyclist issues.
Eugene’s Whiteaker neighborhood is an eclectic blend of houses, businesses and industrial complexes, “a mixed-use neighborhood,” as Ninkasi CEO Nikos Ridge puts it. This mix can bring unwelcome noise to Whiteaker residents: Shouts and music from the booming nightlife scene on Blair Boulevard make their way in to households or, in Ninkasi’s case, industrial noise from its new brewing facility.
When a society uses mass incarceration as a means of control, we know it has social impacts, but a panel on “The Ecology of a Police State” at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) March 6 explored how prisons also impact the environment.
Eugene’s six community garden sites, from Amazon Park to the Whit, brighten local neighborhoods with colorful bursts of tomatoes and chard. It takes a network of volunteers, nonprofits and city staff to keep the garden plots up and running.
Last year, however, the city of Eugene reorganized its staffing and cut the staff time of the community gardens manager in half, from .5 full-time equivalent (FTE) to .25 FTE.
• Weyerhaeuser, 744-4600, plans to ground and aerial spray 6 acres located 1 mile southeast of Cottage Grove near Taylor Butte with Accord Concentrate, Atrazine 4L, Weedone LV6 EC, Velpar DF, Oust XP, Oust Extra, DMA4 IVM, Transline and/or Sulfomet XP. See ODF notification 2015-771-03472, call Tim Meehan at 726-3588 with questions.
Pacific Recycling has been fined yet again for environmental violations, this time involving asbestos. (For a listing of past appearances in this space go to goo.gl/fNr376.) The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) assessed a civil penalty of $32,000 against Eugene-based Pacific Recycling on February 3 for asbestos violations associated with an abatement project at a facility in Independence, Oregon, owned by CPM Development Corporation. DEQ assessed a separate penalty of $10,400 against CPM.
“I’ve gotten better and better in the role of watchdog,” says Commissioner Pete Sorenson of his decision to run again for his long-time South Eugene seat on Lane County’s Board of Commissioners in the May 2016 primary.
The election might be more than a year away, but Sorenson has already begun lining up endorsements, from local politicians — Mayor Kitty Piercy — to legislators in Salem — Rep. Phil Barnhart.
Oregon state legislators are worried that their constituents don’t know enough about state government.
There are three bills proposed in the current 2015 session to improve civics education in Oregon: HB 2977, HB 2955 and SB 484. Each has a different angle, but all stem from the same general feeling: Kids graduating today don’t know enough about the legislative process to understand that they have a stake in the system.
A representative from a local advocacy group has filed a formal request with the Lane County District Attorney’s Office seeking the release of records from Greenhill Humane Society.
At issue is whether Greenhill — a private nonprofit that runs its own shelter but also receives public funds from the county to administer the First Avenue Shelter — is subject to Oregon’s public records laws regarding the work it does at First Avenue.
Greenhill took over the management of FAS from the county in 2012.
It’s school board election season, and board positions are opening up at Lane Community College and Eugene School District 4J. Two candidates, one for LCC and one for 4J, are ready to fill soon-to-be-empty spots, running on platforms of affordability, equity, transparency and more.
The latest brewery to bubble up in the Willamette Valley is getting ready to take off, and you can help make it happen. Old Growth Ales recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $20,000 for equipment, truck upgrades, licensing fees, marketing and other expenses. The end goal: to make locally sourced botanic and medicinal ales commercially available.
In 2003, a Lane County Animal Regulation Advisory Task Force Report said that the animal shelter shared by Lane County, Eugene and Springfield was in need of a “thorough overhaul or a complete replacement” and 60 more kennels. Instead, First Avenue Shelter, which is home to the area’s strays and now run by Greenhill Humane Society, has the same 30 kennels it has had since the 1970s and is stretched beyond its capacity, according to longtime shelter volunteer Misha English.
Oregon might be seen as a green and healthy state, but its laws protecting people, pets and lands from the chemicals drifting from aerial herbicide sprays are weaker than the laws in Idaho, Washington and California. Lisa Arkin of Beyond Toxics hopes a new bill introduced into the Oregon Legislature Feb. 10 could change that.
For the first two weeks of the legislative session in Salem, Sen. Chris Edwards (D-Eugene) has focused all his attention on passing the clean fuels bill. But he also has several bills to foster a healthier environment for Oregonians in the works.
The next “big” bill Edwards says he’ll be working on is the Children’s Toxics bill (SB 478). He started work on the bill back in 2013, but he says supporters were unable to get it passed because not all Democrats voted for it. He says after several iterations, it is “a better bill now.”
Eugene has bulldozed hundreds of historic homes and commercial buildings over the years, many with architectural as well as historic value, and the destruction continues. But not all have been lost. So what is it like to get an old and significant home or office building designated as a City Historic Landmark (CHL) or other designation in Eugene? The benefits include tax credits and assessment freezes, low-interest loans for rehabilitation and more.
• Weyerhaeuser Company, 744-4600, plans to ground and aerial spray 367.5 acres near Farman Creek, Coyote Creek and Gillespie Corners with atrazine, clopyralid, hexazinone, sulfometuron methyl, Crosshair, Grounded, Foam Buster, Odor Mask and/or No Foam. See ODF notification 2015-781-03426, call Brian Peterson at 935-2283 with questions.
When Lisa Gillis received a collections notice in the mail on Jan. 30 for a parking ticket nearly 10 years old, she says she was surprised. The date of the infraction, she explains, was in 2006, but she did not own the vehicle even then. “I sold that car in 2004,” she says. “I was so irritated.” Since she was not the legal owner, Gillis says she is trying to obtain documentation to prove she does not need to pay the fine of $24.01.
It’s time for the Oregon Legislature to do its part to help solve eastern Oregon’s “juniper problem,” according to Rep. Julie Parrish (R-West Linn).
Since the 1870s, the trees have flourished to an unnatural and dangerous extent, Parrish says. “It’s more like a weed than a nice part of the forest.” Her proposal is to assist juniper harvesters to get the trees out of the dry soil and into the marketplace. However, some conservation groups have concerns about the bill.
Weyerhaeuser Company, 746-2511, plans to aerially spray 47.8 acres and 96.4 acres near Mohawk River tributaries with Velpar DF, Velossa, Vista XRT, Transline, Sulfomet XP, Rodeo, Hardball, Crosshair, Epoleon N-100 odor masking agent, Foam Buster and/or No Foam. See ODF notifications 2015-771-02709 and 2015-771-02586, call Brian Dally or Nikolai B. Hall at 726-3588 with questions.
The city of Eugene recently sent Pacific Recycling (which appears in this space on a regular basis) a warning letter for Clean Water Act violations at its facility on Cross Street. The city’s letter warns Pacific Recycling for shoddy employee environmental training practices; failure to take stormwater samples that are representative of discharges; failure to employ erosion and sediment controls; and failure to provide secondary containment for a barrel of unknown material.
The Oregon “Right to Rest Act” will be introduced in the Legislature this week, according to the office of Sen. Chip Shields, a Democrat from Portland who is sponsoring the bill. The Right to Rest Act, which is also sometimes referred to as a “Homeless Bill of Rights” by some supporters, would decriminalize the everyday and necessary acts of sleeping, sitting, standing, eating or sharing food, according to Paul Boden of WRAP, the Western Regional Advocacy Project, which is pushing for bills in Oregon, California and Colorado.
Lane County continues to move forward with its attempts to develop the community of Goshen much to the dismay of local land-use advocates. Goshen, just south of Eugene, is a rural industrial area that has been home to several mills and is the site of designated wetlands. Developing Goshen has become a pet project of Commissioner Faye Stewart.
On Feb. 3, a wastewater feasibility study for Goshen done by Kennedy/Jenks Consultants was presented to Lane County’s Board of Commissioners for discussion.
Eugene’s food carts and trucks are sprinkled down West 11th, dotted around downtown and parked at Whiteaker breweries — their transitory nature means they’re not always easy to find. Once again, technology is here to save the day: The Street Food Eugene app for iPhone and Android debuted last month, making it a cinch to pin down your favorite food cart, check out new carts or find nearby carts.
“This app could be a pivotal tipping point in the Eugene mobile food scene,” says KC Brooks, owner of Sammitch. As of press time, the app has been downloaded about 800 times.
The weather has been hitting us with record-breaking warm and dry temperatures recently. It would be nice to greet the recently blooming flowers with joy, but there’s reason for trepidation. These warm, dry days mean, as Julie Koeberle, a hydrologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Services puts it, that “the snow has been elusive.”