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June 17, 2008 05:50 PM

Eugene's riverfront bike trails are one of the most popular things ever built in Eugene. Last Sunday saw a wide range of Eugeneans out enjoying the sunny weather and riverside parks. Thanks to a video camera strapped to the handlebars with an old inner tube and songs from Mal Webb and David Rovics, here's a quick tour:

June 17, 2008 05:04 PM

Five developers or community groups have submitted proposals to fill the eyesore Sears pit and adjacent parking lot on the half block across from the downtown library.

The proposals to the city include a six-story student apartment building, a five story office/apartment mix, a green housing and transportation center, a hip hotel with 105-120 rooms and a community/art/housing center.

The Eugene Redevelopment Advisory Committee will review the proposals from 4:30 to 7 pm Thursday, June 19, at the Sloat Room in the Atrium Building downtown. The City Council plans to consider the proposals at a work session July 16. For the complete proposals, surf to the city website.

Here’s a rundown of the pit proposals:

• Opus — six-story student apartment building

The $40-million, 200,000 square-foot Opus project has 60 parking spaces embedded on the ground floor and a coffee shop with apartments for 472 students above. The developer says it will pay the city $482,360 for the half-block site. Opus wants the following city subsidies/actions: a 10-year property tax break, closing and selling a public alley, expedited permits, bulk leasing of 100 spaces in the Broadway Place Garage across the street, capping of permit and development fees at $100,000 and two reserved curbside spaces for ZipCars, a car sharing service.

Opus wrote that the project will “activate” the retail area downtown with new residents. The students will be “relying heavily on bicycles and busses for their daily commuting.”

Opus said a market study it commissioned and recent news stories show high demand for student housing in the area. Opus wants to start the project this year and finish it by the spring of 2010. “The timing is critical.”

Here's a look at the Opus ground floor, about half parking:

The ground-level of the west side of the Opus apartment building largely presents an unfriendly blank wall to pedestrians:


• WG — five-story office/apartment mix

Local developers Wally Graff and Nathan Philips propose two floors of offices topped by three floors of apartments. The $28-million, 200,000 square-foot, mixed-use project includes 83 apartments and 65 embedded parking spaces. Pacific University, which offers teacher education in Eugene, intends to occupy a “significant portion” of the office space, according to WG.

WG wants the following subsidies from taxpayers: give the half-block to them for $1, parking rental agreement for Broadway Place, reduced development charges, 10-year tax break, pay for alley and any off-site improvements, consider below-market loan, consider brownfield grant or loan, assistance with market analysis, expanded policing downtown and any potential environmental mitigation of the site.

WG wrote the project will “enliven” the area and increase “eyes-on” security. The building includes a police kiosk, small café, wide-sidewalks, street trees and a “quasi public urban plaza” with event space towards the library. The project may offer bus passes and “could meet” LEED Silver status for green building, according to WG.

The local developers say they have backing from banks and $10 million from unnamed investors for the project. If a planned market study shows lack of demand, WG said it may take a “phased” approach, building only half of the project first.

WG has parking underground in the pit and embedded on the groundfloor, which also includes a plaza facing the library:

Here's another view of the five stroy building from the library:

The west side of the WG project is also not pedestrian-friendly:


• Jim Wilcox — Green Housing Transit Center

Local resident Wilcox proposes an environmental and community-oriented “Tranovation Center.” The proposal has many green elements including: solar powered electric vehicle charging and parking; electric vehicle sales and service; a “BikeStation” with secure bike parking, repair, rentals and changing rooms; a car sharing service; a theater/community education facility; green housing; an indoor/outdoor farmers market; and an environmental transportation R&D center for UO and OSU engineers. The passive and active solar facility will generate as much power as it uses and offer car-free living, according to Wilcox.

Wilcox writes his proposal “lacks many technical requirements” the city asked for. He wrote: “This will not be a simple project. It will require participation by the City of Eugene, LCC, LTD, the U of O and OSU, private investors, downtown citizens and business owners. The City can make an investment by procuring an initial fleet of electric vehicles that could be charged in this location.”

• Canterbury Group — Hip hotel with 105-120 rooms

Canterbury proposes to build a $10-million, “lifestyle” hotel for the “Aloft” unit of the large Starwood Hotels chain. The Aloft vision includes a “lobby with a lively communal setting and a bar” and a futuristic, luxury “loft-inspired design and free flowing energy.”

The proposal includes the following taxpayer subsidies: no property taxes; city help with permitting and no delays; and land subsidized so that the developer will pay only $175,000 for the half block.

Canterbury said the project will enliven the area with an architectural landmark, use green building materials, attract redevelopment and create tax revenues.

• Energy Village — community center/housing

Energy Village is a “grass roots” group of local progressive people proposing a community/education/art center and housing project with a broad spectrum of community-based tenants. The proposal is “exploring design concepts” including possible: modern art museum; rooftop gardens; public park space; education programs, youth programs; childcare; music lessons; jazz jam space; artist workshops and classrooms; and sustainable clothing workshops, classrooms and boutique.

The Energy Village proposal states, “We are currently engaged in a capital campaign for private investment, which we then hope to match with public funds.” The proposal says it will help revive downtown with “creative class” people and provide jobs while providing “truly affordable housing,” learning opportunities and a “vibrant, inclusive” community center. The proposal, “embodies the philosophy of creativity and independence that Eugene is known for and plays it forward in a way that is edgy and truly progressive.”

To email the mayor and council with comments on the proposals, click here.

June 11, 2008 03:31 PM

Today's best news story, hands (hoofs?) down.

Here, you can watch mud-phobic little Cinders the pig trek around in her boots.

Yes, we need this kind of story. It boosts morale. Especially on Wednesdays.

June 10, 2008 10:37 PM

A woman named Loving died last month, a pioneer in the fight for equal rights to marriage. She was black, but the parallels of her case to the current fight for equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples are striking.

In 1958, Virginia deputies broke into Mildred Loving and her white husband's bedroom shinning flashlights and carted the couple off to jail for breaking the state's laws against interracial marriage. Arguing that God did not intend for the races to mix, a Virginia judge convicted the Lovings of felonies, fined them and banned them from the state.

The couple later appealed, and in 1967 the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the interracial marriage bans in Virginia and other states as violations of the Constitution's equal protection and due process clauses.

Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote the unanimous decision. The court found marriage discrimination "odious to a free people whose institutions are founded upon the doctrine of equality." Warren wrote, "The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital
personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men."

Last year Mildred Loving issued a statement on the 40th anniversary of her Supreme Court victory calling for equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians.

Last month the California Supreme Court overturned that state's gay marriage ban as unconstitutional. In 1948, the same court was the first to overturn a state interracial marriage ban, followed by the U.S. Supreme Court two decades later.

June 9, 2008 11:29 AM

Photobucket




I'm not always one for making grandiose claims about the year's best films before the year is through, but this time, I feel pretty justified in saying that Tarsem's The Fall really is the most beautiful film of 2008. I'm absolutely delighted that it's coming to the Bijou later this month. Watch the preview here and then make plans to go. Seriously. Do not dillydally; do not wait. You have to see this. (And not just because it continues proving that Lee Pace is the new Ryan Gosling/Christian Bale/Ed Norton/James McAvoy/greatest young actor, etc., though that is a bonus.)

June 5, 2008 09:16 AM


Quiz:

Which of these did the Eugene planning department require a conditional use permit (CUP) for?

The Dharmalaya Meditation Center, straw bale backyard shelter for quiet retreats:

The UO's 12,500-seat basketball arena, at roughly $250 million, the most expensive arena ever built with plans for games, rock concerts and other mass events almost every weekend:

Answer:

The Eugene planning department required a CUP for the meditation center but not for the huge arena. Both decisions were thrown out on appeal by a hearings official. Now the arena requires a permit and the meditation center does not.

Strange.

Did the city of Eugene get bad legal advice on this? The city doesn't have any attorneys on staff. It gets almost all its legal advice from the private law firm Harrang Long Gary Rudnick P.C.

Harrang Long's president is Bill Gary. Gary served with his friend UO President Dave Frohnmayer as his top deputy when Frohnmayer was Oregon attorney general.

In the past , Gary and his firm have denied any conflicts of interest between the private firm's work for the city and private clients.

June 5, 2008 10:12 AM

From our Summer Guide's captions:

Hermiston, not "Hermistan"
Labyrinth, not "The Labyrinth"
Billy Bob Thornton, not "Thorton"
Amphitheater (or -tre, if you're an annoying place), not ... however else it turned up.

Whoops. But hey, it's done! It's a pull-out for the first time ever! And it's ENORMOUS. So that's cool.

June 4, 2008 11:37 AM

A car struck and killed a cyclist Monday, June 2 at 13th and Willamette.

The Eugene Police Department reported that a car driven by Latasha Ann Williams, 31, of Eugene struck and killed cyclist David Matthew Minor, 27, of Eugene at 3:47 in the afternoon.

An EPD press release states: "A very preliminary review of the investigative information indicates that speed does not appear to have been a factor. It appears that both parties likely had green lights, and that the bicyclist made a left-hand turn into the vehicle’s path."

Cyclists worried about the death may want to check out this web site on defensive riding:

The site covers many common hazards, but doesn't have much on safe left turns at busy intersections. Such turns are perhaps one of the most difficult urban cycling challenges for cyclists.

According to this site, one approach is to behave like a car and wait in the middle of the intersection for a gap in traffic. With tons of lethal hunks of metal hurtling all around, that could require some bravery and muscles for quick acceleration. Another approach is to go to the curb at the right-hand corner, turn your bike and then wait for the green to go the other direction. That may be safer and less frightening but requires twice the wait at the light.

A traffic engineering fix could involve a traffic island in the center of the intersection for bikes. Cyclists could take refuge there while waiting for a safe gap to turn left. The island would have to be designed so drivers could maneuver around it.

The city might also consider reexaming its heavy use of one way streets downtown. Such streets can cause dangerous confusion and are designed mostly to maximize car speeds. That's an odd goal in urban settings where the city is trying to reduce speeding for safety and get people to enjoy downtown. Many cities are converting one-way streets to two-way to increase safety and make downtowns more than just a place to speed through.

Many cities have also installed "bike boxes" to reduce "right hook" accidents where cars and trucks turn across bike lanes. Eugene has had one on High Street near City Hall for years. The boxes could allow a cyclist at a light to more safely shift to the left for a left turn. When painted brightly, these boxes could also help left turns by alerting motorists to watch for cyclists. But Eugene's box isn't painted.

Here's a bike box video showing Portland's brightly painted approach:

In contrast to Portland's highly visible bike safety improvements, below is a tiny street marking the city of Eugene recently put on a bike way through town. It's hard to see how a motorist would know what it is.

Meanwhile, the site of David Minor's death in Eugene has collected a highly visible, growing pile of flowers.

June 4, 2008 03:38 PM

Buried in the back pages of The Register-Guard today is the headline-making news that mayoral candidate Jim Torrey opposes an independent police auditor to examine complaints against police.

The paper attributed to Torrey this statement about whether he supports the police auditor:

"Torrey said he, too, supports the auditor, although he believes she should report to the city manager, not to city councilors."

The whole point of the new police auditor was that it was independent of the city manager and under the city council. The 2005 charter amendment creating the function stated:

"Under the Eugene Charter, only the city manager may hire or appoint individuals or boards to investigate or review complaints against city employees. This measure would amend the charter to allow the city council to hire and supervise an independent police auditor and to appoint a civilian review board to investigate or oversee investigations of complaints involving police employees."

Under the old system, a non-independent police auditor reported to the city manager along with the police chief. Under that system, EPD officers sexually abused more than a dozen women despite years of complaints that EPD officers ignored.

The 2005 ballot measure was opposed by the police union which made the same argument as Torrey that the function should be under the city manager. The measure to create the independent auditor passed with 57 percent voting yes.

Now the union is one of Torrey's biggest financial backers and Torrey is running for mayor against the independent police auditor.

June 3, 2008 05:07 PM

Local activist and videographer Tim Lewis has posted video and stills of Eugene police tasering a protester at a May 30 rally downtown against pesticides.

Citizens have organized two gatherings in support of the “Kesey Three” arrested at the rally in front of the author’s statue.

The first is planned for Thursday, June 5 from 12-3 pm at the UO’s EMU Amphitheater.

The second is a “silent” event planned for Saturday, June 7 in Kesey Square at Willamette and Broadway at 12 noon. “Many will have an ‘X’ painted over their mouths or will be wearing tape over their mouths as a statement of how the police are trying to silence free speech with their violence,” an email announcement states.

The events are organized by Crazy People for Wild Places , a UO student group. The group is gathering photos and media links about the taser incident here .

May 31, 2008 11:12 PM


Photos by Todd Cooper

My ears, they ring. There weren't enough bodies in the Indigo District tonight to absorb enough of the treble coming out of the speakers, which looked small but sounded big enough to hold several Johnny Whitneys and all their falsetto notes.

But I get ahead of myself. Fact is, I can't speak to either of the opening bands, as I'm still not sure who was who. The second band had a nice dose of late-’90s I'm-in-a-basement-in-New-Jersey shouting crossed with early At the Drive-In, which was a good soundtrack to sitting at the nearly empty bar and shooting the shit. But we were there to see Whitney do his diva-hand (as seen above; the guy puts Cursive's Tim Kasher to shame with the diva hand) and the littler Votolato — that'd be guitarist Cody, as opposed to singer-songwriter fella Rocky, whom I also adore — and the rest of Jaguar Love do their thing. Us and about 30 other people. The band doesn't have an album out yet, so I kind of get the low turnout, but seriously, did Blood Brothers mean nothing to you people? (Confession: I had this spaced out moment at the door and kept referring to Jaguar Love as Blood Brothers. Well, two out of five ain't bad. Sorry, Pretty Girls Make Graves Guy. It's the vocals I think of first.)

It's hard to have a lot to say about the show when you've heard just four songs by a band, but the thing is, there's something about this kind of music that I find hard to describe in the best of situations. It's not like the danceable angles of a band like Q and Not U, where there's so much space between the instruments, and it's not like the density of a good poppy punk band, either. It's — this is the best I could do — an aural assault you can dance to. It hurts, a little bit, and it kept putting me in mind of Daphne Carr's paper at this year's EMP Pop Conference. She spoke about noise rock, and at the end, the lights went out and the noise started. And, just for a little minute, I got it. It's not physical the way a vibrating bass is physical; it's more washing, more drenching, than that. It doesn't just shake your eardrums, but blisters them. You can't do it very often.

The Eugenean audience exercises the right not to rock:

Jaguar Love hits that funny place where I want to cover my ears and I want to shake my ass. (Big internet imaginary hugs to the tall skinny guy in the plaid shirt who was totally shaking his. I admire you, sir.) The last three songs were the best; they were the catchiest, the whoa-oh-ohs slipping out from under the barrage of distortion and (too-sharp) snare drum to sink in just long enough to register as something to which you actually might sing along. And so I did. Just a little.

Listen to 'em here: Jaguar Love on MySpace.

May 30, 2008 05:38 PM

Witnesses alleged police brutality after Eugene officers tasered a protester at a peaceful anti-pesticide rally today downtown and arrested three people.

About 40 citizens and 10 police officers showed up for the noon rally Friday, May 30 at the Broadway and Willamette plaza. Numerous citizen witnesses alleged that police threw UO student Ian Van Ornum, 19, to the ground, pulled his hair, kneed him in the back, ground his face into the pavement and shocked him repeatedly in an act of unjustified brutality.

“I believe that’s torture,” protester Josh Schlossberg said. Schlossberg said he did not see Van Ornum do anything illegal or that justified the arrest. “They repeatedly tasered him after he was down,” he said. “I did not see him resisting.”

“When he was on the ground fully restrained, they tasered him three times,” said protester Mary Stevens, adding that the city should be sued.

“They were dragging him by the hair,” said Amy Pincus Merwin. “They ground his face into the ground with a knee on his back.”

“They were beating him,” said Carly Barnicle, who helped organize the rally with Van Ornum. She said Van Ornum is a very peaceful person and was doing nothing illegal or resisting and asking, “why, why, why” while police assaulted him.

The Eugene Police Department issued a press release describing their version of what happened at the “otherwise peaceful” rally. The EPD alleged that Van Ornum “was blocking and impeding traffic” and holding a sprayer. EPD alleged that when contacted by an officer, Van Ornum “raised the [sprayer] wand toward the officer asking, ‘Do you want poison in your face?’” When officers “began to escort him across the street,” the EPD alleged Ornum “began fighting with the officers” and the officers arrested him “with the assistance of a taser” for “resisting arrest” and “disorderly conduct.”

Numerous citizens that witnessed the event said that Van Ornum was not doing anything illegal, fighting with officers or resisting arrest. They said the sprayer at the rally against pesticides was only water and used at previous events as a protest prop.

The EPD alleged that “a crowd of 25 to 30 people began to converge” on the arrest scene. EPD alleged that Anthony Farley, 22, “swung his fists at the officers” and arrested him for alleged “assault, interfering with a police officer and disorderly conduct.”

The EPD alleged that David Owen, 50, “ran at the officers in an attempt to interfere with the arrest.” The EPD arrested Owen alleging “interfering with a police officer, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.”

Numerous citizen witnesses said that Farley and Owen shouted their disapproval of the arrest along with others but did not assault officers or resist them or interfere with them or do anything illegal.

“We started yelling shame on you” and “don’t hurt him,” Merwin said.

“They said they would taser me if I stepped any closer,” said Barnicle.

Stevens said police refused to provide information on how to file a complaint.

Merwin said she has contacted the police auditor’s office to file an official complaint.

Lisa Arkin of the Oregon Toxics Alliance said she attended the rally but left before the taser incident. Arkin said it appeared that the police “purposely waited” until some of the older attendees and press had left.

Arkin said the rally focused on praising efforts by the state, city and county to limit pesticide use and was carefully organized by UO students. “These were not kids looking to cause a problem.”

The incident comes at a time of rising tension between the police and Eugene citizens.

The police union recently taunted a progressive city councilor online with an ugly caricature and a “she’s baaaack” quote from a horror movie. The union opposed councilor Bonny Bettman’s successful effort to create an independent police auditor and citizen review board to investigate complaints against officers.

Citizens criticized the police attack against a councilor and a previous written attack by the police union against an anti-global warming song at the Mayor’s state of the city speech as expressions of hate directed at the city’s liberal community. Police defended their rhetoric as free speech.

Protesters at the pesticide rally said police used a taser and violence to violate their free speech at the environmental protest.

Eugene police recently changed their policy to arm officers with tasers with few binding restrictions on their use. Where previously the EPD rarely used batons or guns to arrest subjects, the department has begun using tasers on a regular basis, always, they allege, with justification.

Tasers fire 50,000-volts into victims causing violent pain. Nationally, the controversial weapon has been linked to more than 70 deaths and hundreds of lawsuits and complaints
of police abuse.

Police tasered Ian Van Ornum (left) at an environmental rally he organized with Carly Barnicle (right). Photo is from a May 22 EW story on the planned rally.

Below is David Owen's photo from a 2006 EW story about people protesting rural herbicide use.

May 23, 2008 11:00 AM

That should be the subtitle for the new Weezer video for "Pork and Beans," the lead single from the band's new album, um, Weezer. Wait, didn't Weezer already release Weezer? I'm so confused. But I'm also glad that when my friend Jack and I saw the video for "Undone (The Sweater Song)" on 120 Minutes in the Rubin Hall lounge all those years ago, we were wrong when we agreed that the song was totally frickin' fantastic — but no one would care when Weezer released their second album.

May 21, 2008 05:02 PM

The new McKenzie-Willamette hospital could be built on a widely-supported downtown site centered on the Eugene Clinic under a proposal sent to the hospital this morning, May 21, by Eugene planning director Susan Muir.

The site centers on the medical clinic at 12th and Olive streets and its surrounding surface parking lots as well as adjacent largely underutilized downtown real estate. A similar downtown site was once proposed as an alternative to moving PeaceHealth to Riverbend by a coalition of progressives opposed to urban sprawl.

Muir wrote that the site offers the wide support, size, easier approval, lower cost, quicker construction and high visibility that the hospital has said it needs. The downtown location "will be of maximum benefit to all parties, build upon our existing assets and continue to create a vibrant, economic center within our city and our region," Muir wrote.

The city council has expressed "unanimous support" for a downtown hospital and the clinic site has "very strong support across broad spectrums of our elected officials, as well as our community," Muir wrote. Muir said the city has approached PeaceHealth to talk about the city purchasing an option for the clinic property or selling the property directly to McKenzie-Willamette.

The site, adjacent property and nearby room for medical office buildings totals about 22 acres spanning over up to a dozen downtown blocks, according to Muir. That’s larger than the 13-acre UO Riverfront Research Park that the hospital recently expressed interest in.

Muir described the regulatory approval process for the site as "minimal." The clinic site "is in the heart of our city and already planned to accommodate the type of trips your hospital would propose," she wrote.

With the help of city urban renewal funds, the site can be made "shovel ready" within the price the hospital has said it is willing to pay, Muir wrote. The downtown location requires less spending on new road and other infrastructure, she said.

A hospital could be finished at the clinic site within the preferred four-year time frame expressed by McKenzie-Willamette, according to Muir. PeaceHealth has said it will vacate the clinic not later than the end of 2010. Before then, McKenzie-Willamette will have time to work on building plans and approvals.

The centrally located site has high visibility and is easily accessible, and near the bus station, downtown library and BRT line, Muir wrote.

If the hospital chooses the site, Muir said the city will offer substantial help and subsidies. The city will pay for a new 500-car parking garage for the hospital by expanding the downtown urban renewal district, vacate parts of 12th and Olive and public alleys and give the land to the hospital, pay for or waive regulator fees and assist with the acquisition of land for the project.

Here's a link to a Google map of the proposed hospital site. Not all
the identified potential land/buildings may be used for the project.