News Briefs: City Gets Flood of Good Ideas for Better Biking | Wolves Get Protection on ESA List | Medical Pot Gets Review Next Week | River Float Promotes Local Goods | EPA Grant to Centro, OTA | Activist Alert | Lighten Up | Corrections/Clarifications |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
City Gets Flood of Ideas for Better Biking
View Eugene Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan in a larger map
|This interactive map on the city website documents public input|
Bike and pedestrian advocates have posted more than 140 comments on an interactive map the city set up as part of their effort to draft a new bike/ped plan for the city.
The site (http://wkly.ws/px) will accept comments through Aug. 27. Here’s some highlights from what’s already been posted:
• Cars leaving strip mall driveways on Coburg Road poke through sidewalks and bike lanes while waiting to turn. “This is the scariest section of road I use regularly,” said a commenter.
• Convert Grand, Blair and Monroe streets into a bike boulevard/expressway with bike lanes, traffic calming, improved crossings, etc., reaching from the fairgrounds to the river.
• Connect the Amazon bike path to the river with a two-way protected bikeway from South Eugene High School along High Street to the river.
• Make 12th Avenue into a bike boulevard from UO to the Fern Ridge path by turning stop signs and improving crossings with major streets.
• Build a bike bridge to connect the Fern Ridge path to the Target/Walmart shopping area. “Make the developers pay for it!!! How did they NOT?!” said one comment.
• Make Broadway through downtown a bike boulevard.
• Convert south Willamette Street between 18th and 29th to two car lanes, a center turn lane and bike lanes. “This is one of the most bike un-friendly corridors that I encounter.”
• Build a bike/ped bridge or bridges over Amazon Creek south of 36th where the creek splits neighborhoods.
• Add sidewalks on West 11th and improve connections form the Fern Ridge path to West 11th businesses.
• Build a new riverfront bike path along the McKenzie and Willamette rivers from Armitage Park to Beltline.
• Build a cycletrack on Alder all the way to the river. “This would be a crucial connection for thousands of cyclists everyday.”
• Connect Santa Clara to Eugene with a bike/ped bridge over Beltline.
• Improve 15th with bike boulevard treatments including better crossings, traffic diverters, traffic calming and markings.
• Add bike lanes to 13th Avenue. “These should have been installed before. The 12th Avenue excuse doesn’t work; cyclists need a thoroughfare as well.”
• Create a “traffic garden” near the Rose Garden for kids to learn traffic skills with “a scaled down city with working traffic lights, signs, crosswalks, roundabouts, sidewalks, bike lanes, work zones, paths, intersections, etc.”
• Build a protected two-way cycletrack on 24th from Amazon Parkway to Patterson to reduce the dooring hazard.
• Add bike lanes to Patterson to serve SEHS, Roosevelt Middle School and the Y. “Patterson was just repaved and should have had bike lanes put in.”
The city expects to report on existing bike/ped conditions by next month, create a funding plan for improvements by February and then adopt a final Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan by June next year. — Alan Pittman
A version of this story first appeared at Eugenecycles.com
WOLVES GET PROTECTION ON ESA LIST
The gray wolves of the Northern Rockies are back on the endangered species list, thanks to a ruling by federal judge Donald Molloy. Wolves in the eastern third of Oregon will now return to the protections of Endangered Species Act.
According to Dan Kruse of Cascadia Wildlands, “Federal law supercedes Oregon law; the Oregon plan acknowledges its provisions apply only when federal protections are removed.” Gray wolves were protected under Oregon’s state Endangered Species law, even when they weren’t protected federally.
But recently, under the Oregon Wolf Conservation Plan, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife gave permits authorizing the killing of wolves in Oregon’s small wolf pack after wolves from the Imnaha pack attacked and killed cattle in Eastern Oregon. The radio-collared alpha wolf has gone missing, and conservationists objected to the permits. A “range rider” program has since been funded and put into place to help reduce the risk of depredation.
Kruse says issues for the federal ESA listings for Northern Rockies gray wolves arose when Wyoming refused to develop a state plan to protect wolves. Molloy ruled that the wolf’s removal from the endangered species list in Idaho and Montana, but not Wyoming, was a political solution, and that separating the endangered list by state didn’t comply with federal law. He ruled that the Northern Rockies gray wolves must be listed, or delisted, as a distinct population and protected accordingly.
“Whether the species is endagered is based on the survivability of the population, not some arbitrary state boundary,” Kruse said.
Brooks Fahy of Predator Defense, another Eugene-based group that has been working to protect wolves, called the ruling “fantastic” and said, “It’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out.”
“We’re just really happy that wolves will be continued to protected at least in the near future and increases the chances for wolves here in Oregon,” Kruse said. Wolves were not reintroduced to Oregon; they have been entering from neighboring states. Wolves are a native species in Oregon but were hunted into extinction in the 1930s. Oregon’s Imnaha pack recently had a litter of puppies.
While Oregon’s small population of wolves has not been opened up for hunting, the wolves in Montana and Idaho have been subject to sport hunting, and wildlife officials from those states are said to be looking into a way to allow the state-sponsored hunts to continue this year in some form. — Camilla Mortensen
MEDICAL POT GETS REVIEW NEXT WEEK
The initiative to expand the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program to include dispensaries and growers has become Measure 74, and the measure has been selected for a Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) to be held Aug. 16-20 at the Salem Conference Center. The review process is open to interested citizens and the media. This week the CIR is examining Measure 73, which would increase minimum sentences for certain sex and drunk driving convictions.
A panel of 24 Oregon voters from around the state will review Measure 74 next week. The CIR is a recent legislative reform to Oregon’s initiative process meant to provide voters with “clear and trustworthy evaluations of statewide ballot measures,” according to Tyrone Reitman of Healthy Democracy Oregon (HDO).
Each CIR panel is demographically balanced to fairly reflect the entire state electorate, Reitman says. The panelists participate in balanced hearings where advocates and policy experts present arguments and information about the ballot measures. After five days of testimony and deliberation, the panelists will craft a “Citizens’ Statement” to be published in the Oregon Voter’s Pamphlet. The statement will detail the most important information and “key findings” about the measures and will also report the number of panelists who support or oppose the measures based on their evaluation, according to Reitman (see www.healthydemocracyoregon.org).
Several national experts are expected to testify in favor of the measure, including Mary Lynn Mathre R.N., co-founder of Patients Out of Time; Steve DeAngelo of the Harborside Health Center; Don Duncan of the West Los Angeles Patients Group and co-founder of Americans for Safe Access; and Howard Wooldridge of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Citizens Opposing Prohibition.
Meanwhile the local campaign to pass Measure 74 kicks off at 4 pm Saturday, Aug. 14, at the Voter Power office, 687 River Ave., in Eugene. Follow-up meetings will be set. “Everyone who believes patients should have access to their medicine is requested to help,” Jim Greig says. For more information call 636-4472 or 844-1220. — Ted Taylor
RIVER FLOAT PROMOTES LOCAL GOODS
The Willamette River will be see a lot of boat traffic next week with both the 10th annual Paddle Oregon (see story last week) and something new (and old): a “wheat fleet” of human-powered boats carrying locally produced grains and beans from Harrisburg to Corvallis.
The wheat fleet of about 20 paddle- and oar-powered craft will leave Eugene early Thursday morning, Aug. 19, and pick up bags of oats, wheat, flax, corn, flour and other products in Harrisburg. The flotilla will deliver the products to the Corvallis Farmers’ Market between 10 am and 1 pm.
The Harrisburg Area Museum will provide a full size freight wagon like those that were used historically to transport goods to and from market, a hand-operated seed cleaner, and local grain and feed bags.
“This is a nod to the history of using the river as transportation and distribution for the products grown in the valley as well as a promotion of the rich variety of grain and beans raised today in the Willamette Valley,” says Paul Cauthorn, one of the organizers, in a press release. Cauthorn’s great-grandfather James A. Cauthorn owned and operated a grain warehouse at First and Jackson in Corvallis, the site of the present day Farmers’ Market. Cauthorn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
EPA GRANT TO CENTRO, OTA
As the Seneca biomass burning plant in west Eugene proceeds inexorably to its completion, residents in the nearby neighborhoods continue to be concerned about the pollution the plant will add to the already dirty air in the industrial corridor.
Oregon Toxics Alliance (OTA), and its community partner Centro Latino-Americano, received a $25,000 U.S. Environmental Justice grant award from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The groups began to work together after Seneca announced its plans to build the incinerator. The two organizations will work on the issue of the disproportionate air pollution exposure in the area and engage Latino and low income communities in environmental health initiatives.
Earlier this year, OTA attempted to engage Seneca in an alternative dispute resolution process through EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice, but the timber and sawmill company refused to participate in the mediation. Marcela Mendoza, executive director of Centro LatinoAmericano, says based on school enrollments the west Eugene neighborhoods have the highest number of Latino residents in the city. She says that many residents in the area are not informed about possible impacts to their health from industries like the Seneca plant, and among the Latino residents, “many families are even less informed because they don’t usually read mainstream publications.
She says the grant will be used to do canvassing in the neighborhoods and create an advisory committee of interested neighbors who will talk to the community about their concerns and take those concerns to elected and public officials.
The grant will also be used to host workshops on environmental health, asthma and respiratory illnesses and other outreach events, says Lisa Arkin of OTA. “We were encouraged to apply for the grant by Region 10 EPA when they saw the kind of work were are already doing.” Arkin says she’s excited about the kind of green jobs the grant will create, in addition to an outreach position OTA has already posted, “We are going to be hiring a number of part-time canvassers who will simply go to neighborhoods in west Eugene and ask people questions about how they feel about their health and environment in that part of town.” She says this sort of collection of information about illness and about perceptions of air quality hasn’t been done in this area before. This information will go into a report and sent to agencies like Lane County Public Health.
Mendoza says, “We are very honored to have received this EPA grant. They give out only a few across the nation. Somehow the reviewers saw the value in that we are both true community-based organizations and the value on studying the health effects that affect the poor.”
• Centro LatinoAmericano and the Mano a Mano de la Comunidad Program of the EPD will host a free barbeque for the community from noon to 2 pm Saturday, Aug. 14, at Centro’s offices, 944 W. 5th Ave. The event is intended to “strengthen long-lasting, supportive relationships between the Eugene police force and Latino families.” Centro LatinoAmericano is a bilingual, multicultural agency dedicated to the empowerment of the Latino community by offering human services, access to community resources, alcohol and drug intervention, and advocacy for fair treatment. Contact email@example.com
• Stand for Children’s Lane County chapter is planning to join the Eugene Celebration Parade at 9 am Saturday, Aug. 28, with 100 blue umbrellas. The “Don’t Rain on My Parade” march will be in support of a rainy day fund in the Oregon state budget. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or find Stand for Children on Facebook.
Why all the fuss these days over illegal immigration? That’s been a national tradition since undocumented British citizens entered this country at Plymouth Rock. — Rafael Aldave, Eugene
In last week’s Art in the Galleries, Beth Stegall’s name was misspelled in both the listings and in the photo caption. Her art photography is hanging on the wall at the dental offices of Dr. Don Dexter, 2233 Willamette. The showing continues through Sept. 30.
• Eugene’s Downtown Public Safety Zone, aka exclusion zone, was extended by the City Council this week, despite no evidence that the zone has accomplished anything positive. This program has been in effect for two years and we still have no data to look at. How hard can it be? Kudos to Councilors Betty Taylor and George Brown for recognizing the folly of a program that is a convoluted violation of our constitutional rights.
• Last week’s cover story on Susanne Schumann’s final days and her family’s experience involving Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act has proven to be an emotional roller-coaster for many of our readers. Calls and letters keep coming in, and we’ll run more letters next week. We didn’t have much room in the story to talk about Schumann herself. She was known to many as Suzi Fogelson, the noted psychologist, and she will be remembered not for the way she died, but rather for the way she lived. She was a powerful figure locally and beyond, and many of Eugene’s most prominent families turned to her for counseling and insight in their times of need. We welcome your stories about her contributions to our community.
• Eugene Weekly congratulates Rabbit Bistro chef Gabriel Gil, who won the Bite of Oregon Iron Chef competition after a head-to-head contest with Camp Sherman’s Kokanee Café chef Roscoe Roberson. Gil earned himself a Shun cleaver “crafted in Japan from 16 layers of high carbon steel” and a lot of attention for one of Eugene’s tastiest restaurants. Hint: We think an Iron Bartender contest would have Rabbit Bistro high up in the finals as well, so don’t skip the cocktails when you hop on by.
• A little story reprinted in the local daily from the Corvallis Gazette-Times Aug. 9 reminds us how much we want the trains rolling in Oregon. Venell Farms and south Benton County growers are again shipping wheat and other commodities on a short rail line that had been abandoned for three years. Maybe this is the time to send a passenger car from Eugene to the coast, or how about a train from Eugene to Ashland? That particular route interests Congressman DeFazio. We know the hurdles are immense, but probably not tougher than shutting off an oil spill a mile deep in the Gulf of Mexico.
• EW’s Next Big Thing is growing like a Russian forest fire and has more than twice as many songs as last year at this time in the contest. About 45 songs are now online at http://nextbigthingeugene.com and voting and commenting are well under way. Check out the professional quality music produced by some Lane County people with names you may not have heard before. Some of these songs have the potential to become big hit singles, and that’s the whole idea: to give exposure to talented but undiscovered musicians.
• We reported earlier this summer (6/17) that Lane County commissioners are looking into PACE, an acronym for Property Assessed Clean Energy. PACE started in Berkeley and serves as a way for property owners to finance solar systems or energy efficiency retrofits. California cities and counties are jumping on it, but we haven’t heard of any city or county in Oregon doing it yet. One way it works is for the county to sell municipal bonds that finance loans for solar systems. Property owners pay back the cost on their property taxes over 20 years. If a property is sold in less than 20 years, the remaining tax liability goes to the new owner. We like this idea a lot. Potentially everybody wins: Solar installers and manufacturers thrive, homeowners see their net monthly energy costs go down, properties gain in resale value, and we reduce the demand for electricity and fossil fuels. To find out more, Google “Berkeley First Program.”
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, editor at eugeneweekly dot com