NIT’S TIME TO DO SOMETHING
On acceptance of the West Broadway Advisory Committee’s final recommendations on Monday (9/24), the City Council approved a package of amendments which included a call for a comprehensive study of historic properties in the West Broadway redevelopment footprint and a potentially larger public open space at 10th and Olive.
The recommendations of the council prescribe building an open space or corner plaza across from the Eugene Public Library, on the northwest corner of Olive and 10th, that is between 1/4 and 1/8 city block with a mix of hardscape and greenery, possibly a fountain and public seating areas.
The amended recommendations passed 6-2. Councilors Bonny Bettman and Betty Taylor were opposed.
It remains to be seen whether any degree of compromise will satisfy opponents of Measure 20-134, who have fought against significant public investment in West Broadway since day one. They came to the table with a predetermined mindset and have made no indication they will ever meet the other side halfway. Compromise is not in their vocabulary.
Ironically, the demands brought to the table by proponents of a half-block public park and other proposals (i.e., restoration of so-called “historic” buildings) would effectively kill any significant redevelopment on West Broadway and are proposals that would, if brought to fruition, generate little or no new property tax revenue.
Yet opponents of Measure 20-134 claim the proposed redevelopment project favored by the City Council will “divert” $86,940,000 from 4J schools, Lane Community College, Lane ESD, Eugene’s general fund and Lane County over the next 23 years — or the equivalent of $3.8 million per year that would be available to public schools and other taxing authorities when the urban redevelopment district sunsets in 2030 (if the measure is approved by voters).
But only if there is actually a substantial revitalization of West Broadway that would require some level of public investment and would generate those levels of new property tax revenues. And that requires a strong public/private partnership working in concert to improve West Broadway.
At minimum, the urban redevelopment district remains in effect until the year 2024, regardless whether or not voters approve 20-134. For this reason, many of the opposition arguments regarding reallocation of tax revenues seem specious at best.
Opponents, with their incremental approach to downtown redevelopment, have no plan to generate those levels of new tax revenue for public schools or any other tax district. A city park will generate zero new property tax revenue. “Affordable commercial space” (i.e., dilapidated low-rent districts) will not contribute much either.
The status quo is no longer acceptable to the broader Eugene community. People have told us loud and clear they want the city to do something to revitalize West Broadway.
Eugene needs new housing, new retail, new jobs and more 24/7 vitality downtown. The time is now! To read more about the advisory committee’s work and recommendations, please check out my personal blog at www.eugenedowntown.blogspot.com
Eric A. Stillwell, West Broadway Advisory Committee
I am glad that the cover of EW (9/20) headlined Lance Sparks’ article “The Grapes of Worth,” because the article itself, entitled “Looming Wine,” left the reader wondering if there is a new land use issue to worry about. I don’t believe that Lane County will ever be “Napa-cized.” What could happen is that our vineyards could continue to develop into the bigger business to the north in Polk and Yamhill counties. I took a trip up there earlier this year and was amazed by the pastoral beauty of land so close to the Portland metro area.
I have lived in the Lorane Valley for almost 20 years on acreage where we raise quite a bit of our own food. We don’t make our living from agriculture, and I can’t think of anyone in the area who does, except the vineyards. To me, every acre that goes into grapes is land that won’t be paved over into developments. We particularly appreciate King Estate, which is certified organic. Iris Hill is a wonderful neighbor, too. We feel so fortunate, after an active Sunday on our land bringing in firewood, tending livestock or harvesting vegetables, to go up the hill to one of these wineries and enjoy the sunset with a glass of pinot noir.
I have also noticed through the years that Eugeneans appreciate the Lorane valley and love to visit, often by bicycle. The route between Eugene and Lorane functions as a huge pastoral park, and I would so love to see a real bike path constructed so that people could feel safe when they ride out for a peaceful day in the country.
Please vote yes on Measure 49. As Lance Sparks points out, housing developers can outprice potential vineyards. Support Oregon agriculture and preserve the natural beauty of Lane County.
Cathy Boucher, Eugene
A GIFT HORSE
Sigh. Why is it that some people in Eugene believe that everything they don’t agree with is some sort of conspiracy? The latest example is the proposed new basketball arena. Writers to EW would like you to believe that Phil and Penny Knight are donating their $100 million as a business strategy! Trust me on this: If the Knights want to make more money, they wouldn’t invest here in the People’s Republic of Eugene.
Folks, they are making a gift. They love the UO, and, having already donated a law school and a library, they are now donating a basketball arena. It is a gift. There is no plot to rule the world or place nanotechnology in your underwear or make the Nike swoosh the UO logo or anything else. It is a gift.
As for the idea of preserving Mac Court, please don’t make me laugh. I have seen many basketball games there. It is a fun place with lousy facilities, poor ventilation, poor sightlines from many seats, too few seats, awful access in and out and a host of other problems. Not to mention that it is butt ugly.
So on behalf of all Duck fans I say thank you, Phil and Penny Knight, for your incredible generosity to the academic and athletic programs at the UO. The new arena will be about five blocks from my home in the Fairmount neighborhood, where we have lived for 31 years, and I look forward to walking to many basketball games and other events at the great new facility.
Randy Kolb, Eugene
The question remains: “Who are the real ecoterrorists?” The government says, nonviolent vandals. Greens reply, corporate planet plunderers.
If we’re talking about the most damage to the Earth and its life forms, CEOs have got nothing on the mastermind behind such terrorist acts as hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, droughts and volcanoes.
The evil genius responsible is, of course, humanity’s ancient arch-nemesis — the ultimate ecoterrorist — Nature. From day one, Nature has done everything in its power to bring humanity to its knees because Nature hates us and our freedoms.
If daily terrorist acts since the dawn of time aren’t enough to hang Nature on, we have a chance to catch the tyrant in the act of its latest fiendish plot: the climate crisis.
But even if we thwart climate change, Nature’s final solution (in the undetermined future) is to detonate the greatest weapon of mass destruction ever conceived, annihilating Earth once and for all: the sun.
We Americans must act now because no other country is going to fight this war! Let’s nuke fault lines, volcanoes, the molten core of the Earth!
Poison and bleed dry the planet’s water supply! Spew pollution into the sky, choking Nature to death!
If this doesn’t work, we’ll need a preemptive strike to blow up the sun before it blows us up instead! Because we’ve got to do something!
What’s that you say? “Adapt our way of life to what Nature can sustain”?
Come on. That’s not the American way.
Josh Schlossberg, Eugene
An article about how the Constitution is not being taught in our schools should also include our Congress. The Constitution states that it is the jurisdiction of the states’ supreme courts to settle election disputes, not the U.S. Supreme Court, thereby negating the Bush presidency.
I don’t mean to be mean or impeach the impeachment movement, but constitutionally you can’t impeach someone who is not legally in office. I wonder if the court can indict itself for failing to uphold the law of the land.
Vince Loving, Eugene
A BETTER IDEA
For sale, one registered voter. Will vote for your initiative, tax ballot or cause for X amount OBO.
We live in an era of lobbyists outright buying local, state and federal government representatives — you know, the people who are supposed to be working for us. Well I’m fed up with the elected officials and lobbyists making all the money and spending tax money however they please while we get ripped off. So I have a better idea.
Our votes are too valuable to give away, so I suggest, like the people we elected, you sell your vote to the highest bidder. Hey you, big tobacco, you want to stop the tax on cigarettes (man, that cuts into your profits) to support health care for kids, and you’re spending millions to stop it. Save your money; buy the vote directly from me and cut out the middleman. Of course it’s going to have to be enough to cover my health care costs, but hey, that’s business.
Developers want to transform downtown Eugene into their vision? Sure, not a problem; I’ll vote in favor of it for the right amount of money. How much will your project cost me in taxes or loss to the local economy? That’s how much it will cost you to get my vote. Do the math, and make your pitch.
Remember as a citizen and voter, it is your duty to be involved in government, make your vote count and get paid for it.
Alisa McLaughlin, Eugene
A CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY
A civic responsibility, it seems to me, is also a moral responsibility and a part of our code of ethics.
Most of us love Oregon. Why? We love our trees, parks, forests, the scampering squirrel or soaring hawk, the rivers, mountains, ocean — all the glorious places that make up creature habitat. We are only one species, but we keep driving all the others into extinction, by some 20,000 species per year now.
Two years ago, Oregonians voted for Measure 37, which seemed at the time, to most, a reasonable protection of property rights or the right to build another home or two on their own property. What they did not foresee was its potential for exploitation by developers.
There are Measure 37 claims to build two Wal-Marts, several rock quarries and rock blasting operations, a mine and expanded garbage landfills next to rivers and neighborhoods. There are plans for massive housing subdivisions in areas without adequate water supplies. Overall, there are more than 7,500 claims covering more than 750,000 acres, much of it for sprawling development on irreplaceable farmlands and forests — with a documented potential cost of more than $15 billion
In response to this dilemma, which would essentially abandon Oregon’s environment to reckless development, Measure 49 will appear on our ballot. Although it is not a complete solution to Measure 37 crises, it will be a huge improvement. It will help protect our farms, forests, and areas with limited water supplies. I urge you to vote yes on 49.
Barbara Kelley, Lake Oswego
SCREWING THE WORKERS
The SEIU ratified a contract on Aug. 24 that gave workers a 3 percent COLA increase retroactive to July 1. However, the UO has decided that workers who separated from the UO between July 1, 2007, and August 31, 2007, will not get the retroactive pay increase that they earned while employed under contract at the university. Bear in mind that these increases were for the union employees who represent the lowest paid workers on campus. The amount that the university is so stingily hanging onto? In my case it’s a whopping $166.92. How many workers left the OUS system in those two months? Ten? Twenty? What a way to reward staff for years of service!
Bravo to the university for saving a couple thousand dollars while once again screwing the lowest paid workers on campus. Maybe they can use my salary savings to buy a brick for that eyesore obelisk in the quad.
Tiffany Brannon, UO employee, 2000-2007, Seattle
SO MUCH FOR JUSTICE
In rebuttal to writer Anetta Forrer (8/9), whose husband was a grass-seed grower: We do not blame the grass-seed industry for growing grass-seed. We blame them for burning their fields, polluting the air and making allergy sufferers far worse when they could dispose of grass-seed waste without burning it all off. That is what we blame you for.
Everyone knows that grass-seed fields and excess junk do not have to be burned off, yet the grass-seed industry continues to do it because it is cheaper for them than disposing of it through other methods. We Oregonians know that has been going on for many decades, and there are no real laws stopping it because the grass-seed industry is very powerful in Oregon and has paid off the Oregon Legislature to overlook it.
Ms. Forrer may have had a husband with allergy problems who wound up in the emergency room, but I had a dad who always had sinus trouble and a bloody nose because the grass-seed growers saved money by burning their fields every summer. Everyone in my family has bad sinuses because the farmers burn their fields, always have, and always will.
So much for justice. If it is ever meted out, it is only done by God.
Dorothy Bucher, Eugene
WIND BENEATH HER WINGS
It does appear that Hillary Clinton is on her way to the Democratic nomination and an eight-year stay at the White House as the president. It is in no part a small thing that George Bush has so wonderfully and skillfully torpedoed his own presidency that has placed Hillary on the glide path she is on today. The skills and abilities that we need are the ones Hillary is displaying: a keen understanding of the modern U.S. polity and an ability to get along with the U.S. public from both red and blue states.
Bush has made so many careless errors and has so completely undermined the legitimate need for security for U.S. interests in the world that it does appear that even the “military-industrial complex” is now supporting Hillary Clinton for president. What a change from just a few years ago when the GOP was the stalwart of corporate world domination. Now the wife of the man who brought the world NAFTA is poised to become the most powerful person on the planet.
Gerry Merritt, Eugene
Is Lane County Oregon’s largest carbon emitter?
In 2006 logging in Lane County generated about 300,000 tons of carbon to the atmosphere. Lane County led all counties in logging for Oregon at 594 million board feet.
In addition, those trees were not able to sequester approximately 120,000 tons of carbon per year.
That equates to about 100,000 Lane County cars (averaging 30 mpg) driving cross-country roundtrip in one year.
A Douglas fir stand of 40 to 60 years old can store 100 to 150 tons of carbon per acre and when logged will release approximately 31 percent of that carbon (roots, slash) within the first five years after logging. Also, these younger trees are capable of taking in or sequestering about 2 tons of carbon per year per acre.
Now, Peter DeFazio and some environmental groups are considering the sacrifice of at least five million acres of these future forests on public lands to appease Oregon’s big timber. This is a little better than the BLM current attempts to destroy nearly one million acres of old-growth forests.
We have more science than ever pointing to the fact that if we don’t immediately save collapsing ecosystems and zero our carbon footprint that we are doomed as a civilization and maybe as a species.
It’s time to play political hardball with big timber, politicians, corporations, the BLM and Forest Service because all life including human life is depending on us reversing our course as a civilization.
The reality is, the people will lead and the politicians will follow. Failure is extinction.
Shannon Wilson, Eugene
I wish to comment about the horrible movie reviews in your publication written by Jason Blair. In his Sept 13 review of 3:10 to Yuma, he commits the cardinal sin of reviewers by giving away too much of the plot. Fortunately, I have been seeing movies prior to reading Jason’s reviews. But if I had not, I would have known that the members of the posse die during the trip, until the farmer and his son are left to face the final challenge alone.
Knowing that would have totally ruined the experience of watching this film. Jason gives away far too much information about how the movie ends, too. This is another rule that no reviewer should ever violate.
Even worse is his Sept. 20 review of Jodie Foster’s The Brave One, in that, besides these faults, he also makes factually false statements about the film. He attempts to portray the film as being racist (when it clearly isn’t), and states, “all the victims are black or Hispanic,” which is not true. The very first wife murderer Foster kills, the man who kidnaps and tortures a prostitute, and the illegal arms dealer who also killed his wife are all clearly Caucasian.
Either Mr. Blair is incompetent or he has such a personal bias against this film that he has actually stooped to lying about it in order to badmouth it.
Whichever it is, he certainly does not deserve to write for your publication.
Lance Jacobs, Springfield