Planning Division Current Workplan
Each year, typically in late summer, planning staff reviews our work plan with the Eugene Planning Commission. The goal is to focus limited resources on our community’s highest priorities, and to use those resources as efficiently as possible while creating the best chances for each effort to succeed. The following table provides a list of our current projects with links to high level project descriptions below.
|Ongoing Planning Programs and Projects||Timing|
|Planning Commission and Hearings Official admin/support||Ongoing|
|Historic Review Board admin/support||Ongoing|
|Land use application review||Ongoing|
|Land use project consultation, assistance and public inquiries||Ongoing|
|Code maintenance program: corrections, clean-up, and legal updates||Annual - winter/spring|
|State coordination (reporting, legislative review, rule making)||Annual - legislative session|
|Code update: Senate Bill 1051 – Accessory Dwelling Units||2018|
|Metro, regional and interdepartmental planning and coordination||Ongoing|
|City Council /Manager assignments||Ongoing|
|Communication and public involvement system improvements||Ongoing|
|Pending and Emerging Projects (TBD)||Timing|
|Missing middle housing / housing affordability||TBD|
|Corridor planning /code update: fixing setbacks for walkable streets (PWT/PDD)||TBD|
|Downtown commercial setbacks for walkable streets||TBD|
Planning Commission and Hearings Official Administration and Support
Eugene relies on our Planning Commission and Hearings Official to help us make important decisions in the land use process, and to help us achieve our community’s vision and long term goals. Together, our volunteer planning commissioners donate hundreds of hours a year to making appeal decisions and providing recommendations to our City Council on proposed updates to our regulations and policies. The City also hires a Hearings Official to render decisions on certain types of land use applications and appeals. Staff provides necessary support for the Planning Commission and Hearings Official to carry out their work effectively, consistent with our locally adopted regulations and policies as well as state and federal laws. Activities range from daily coordination and scheduling to training, recruitment, and contract management.
Historic Preservation Program Administration and Support
History is vital to our community’s identity and heritage. To help protect and promote Eugene’s history, Planning staff operate the City’s Historic Preservation Program and support the Historic Review Board. The program aims to achieve this goal by raising public awareness of Eugene’s history and character, and by facilitating preservation, restoration and rehabilitation of historic buildings, landscape features, and other culturally significant objects and areas. Efforts include supporting the Historic Review Board and the work of its volunteer members, offering incentives, encouraging designations of historic landmarks, and organizing public events and activities during historic preservation month in May of each year.
Land Use Application Review
Every project built in Eugene is supposed to meet our community’s needs and expectations as expressed in our adopted laws and policies. Our community’s vision is made real through the land use application process, in which decisions are made about whether a proposed development is in keeping with the City’s land use code and adopted land use plans. A core function of Eugene Planning is to act as facilitators to review land use applications as required by law within a fixed time frame. This requires deep analysis, efficient coordination, and high-stakes communication with all affected parties, including applicants, residents, and various other stakeholders such as fire, transportation, and other local, state and federal agencies. Our planning team reviews hundreds of land use applications each year from property owners, including zone changes, land divisions, planned unit developments, conditional use permits, site reviews, and land use plan or code amendments. In addition, we work closely with applicants before the application process to offer advice on early ideas, connect people with resources, share our community’s vision, and provide 24/7 service to our community at large through our web site and direct contacts. Seven planners are primarily devoted to land use activities, comprising the Land Use Section of the Planning Team.
Land Use Project Consultation, Assistance and Public Inquiries
Through Envision Eugene, our community made it clear that the work we do before and after the official process makes a difference in helping realize our collective vision. For example, whether a project meets expectations or the bare minimum, or whether someone gets a pat answer or a real conversation, may depend on how much time and effort we invest. For that reason, our planning team works every day to share up-to-date info and help our community in all aspects of the land use review process and questions related to our land use code. In addition to the legal requirements of reviewing land use applications, we work closely with applicants before the application process to offer advice on early ideas, connect people with resources, and share our community’s vision. We provide 24/7 service through our web site and handle dozens of calls, emails, and meetings everyday.
Code Maintenance Program
Our land use code is a living document created by Eugenians to express our values in how Eugene should be developed. We periodically update the code to respond to our changing needs as well as other state and federal regulations. The City Council initiated the annual code maintenance program to handle necessary corrections or legal issues, which, if left unaddressed, pose a challenge in administering the land use code. The code maintenance program follows the process for legislative updates, with a recommendation from the Planning Commission and final decision by the City Council.
State Coordination (reporting, legislative review, rule making)
Oregon’s Legislature meets annually to discuss and make decisions about issues important to Oregonians, including housing, jobs, governance and land use. During each session, we work with other city staff and county staff, and other cities, counties and interest groups throughout the state to track new legislation, provide or coordinate testimony, and implement any new laws that impact land use planning.
Code Update: Senate Bill 1051 – Accessory Dwelling Units
In 2017 our State legislature passed a bill requiring most cities in Oregon to allow accessory dwellings (ADUs, also called secondary dwellings in Eugene) on property where single family homes are allowed. Because every Oregonian needs a place to live that we can afford, the bill was passed in response to a growing housing crisis in our state. The bill requires each city to comply by July 1, 2018. Our City Council directed Planning staff to address the issue in two phases. The first phase calls for amending our code immediately to make sure we’re allowing ADUs in all zones where single family homes are allowed, while carrying forward our existing standards for siting and design. The second phase will ask our community to explore our existing standards to see if these standards are meeting our needs, or if further action should be taken.
Metro, Regional, and Interdepartmental Coordination
Solving planning problems requires coordination with many partners across the region, including Lane County, Lane Transit District, Eugene Water and Electric Board, and the University of Oregon. Planning coordinates and collaborates on plans and programs that affect the general public, such as updates to the Metro Plan, facility plans (such as wastewater), the Transportation System Plan (TSP), and the Capital Improvements Program (CIP). Coordinated, regional planning as mandated under State law has been an important value for Eugene since the first Metro Plan was adopted in 1982.
City Council/Manager Assignments
We live in a dynamic community; our local government must be prepared to respond to emerging needs and issues as they arise. The Planning work plan includes a small amount of time to respond to requests for assistance from the City Council or the City Manager. One example would be researching a site for affordable housing or advising on which land use process would be required to develop it. Larger requests that take more time would be scoped and prioritized to assess resource needs and how these efforts might fit into the work plan.
Communications/Public Involvement System Improvements
Clear, consistent communication is critical to our success in carrying out our community’s vision. Planning has begun investing in updating and evolving our communications tools and systems to meet our community’s expectations, get better results, and build best practices. One new effort is the Neighborhood/Planning Liaison program, where a land use and community planner are paired together to assist a group of neighborhoods with accessing information and collaborating for community best outcomes. Staff are also working to improve planning notices and web pages, develop new tools and strategies, and build the City’s Principles of Public Participation into every day practices.
Urban Growth Boundary Adoption/Acknowledgement/Appeal processing
Our community has contributed over seven years and thousands of hours of volunteer and staff time towards adopting Eugene’s own UGB. Substantial Council-directed work, and work important to the community (as described in the projects below), depends on successful adoption of our UGB to reduce further delays and cost of dependent work. Therefore it is important that the City successfully defend an objection or appeal and possibly revise the proposal if remanded. Eugene staff have submitted the local decisions to the state for acknowledgement. No objections were submitted on the Jobs, Parks and Schools ordinance, but an appeal was filed on the Residential ordinance. Responding to the appeal will involve compiling and filing the formal record with the state, developing responses to the appeal, and testifying at hearings. The Planning Commission would only be involved if the state remands any issues back to the City to revise. This work will be primarily coordinated by the City Attorney’s office. Planning staff resources are anticipated to be low to moderate depending on the issues contained in the forthcoming appeal brief.
Urban Reserves Planning
Eugene is continually growing and changing, and preparing for this growth and change over the longer term requires the deep involvement of our community and a new level of collaboration with our County partners. Because our future population growth is uncertain and our best predictions are likely to be wrong, our City Council has asked us to look further into the future to help us prepare for possible UGB expansion in a way that best meets our values. The goal of urban reserve planning is to identify where Eugene may grow up to 30 years beyond the 2032 UGB. The plan will support the pillars of Envision Eugene, advance the community vision beyond 2032, and reflect deep collaboration among the City, County, community, and service providers. The project will identify lands for the housing, parks, schools, and jobs needed by Eugene’s population in the long term future, while implementing the area’s regional open space vision, including preservation of significant farmland, waterways, natural resources and landscapes. This is a high priority project for the City Council with a proposal due two years after UGB acknowledgement. A high level of staff support is needed for this project to succeed.
Growth Monitoring Program
Our community needs the best information possible about growth trends to make informed choices about our future. Currently, gathering information is time-consuming and expensive; some information is simply not available because we lack the systems to gather, track, and analyze it. The growth monitoring program is aimed at setting up new systems to track our growth and evaluate how well our strategies are working to achieve our intended outcomes. The data will help us answer important questions about land supply, new jobs and housing, housing affordability, density, and much more. The program also includes setting up and supporting a new citizen committee, the Envision Eugene Technical Advisory Committee, or EETAC, that will assist the City in reviewing the data and making recommendations. This is a high-priority Council directive since 2012 with moderate to high staffing needs that will vary over time. The first growth monitoring report is due to Council 3 years after state acknowledgement of our adopted UGB.
Clear Lake Implementation Measures
Job creation is a top priority for Eugene and an important part of the solution to our housing affordability crisis. The UGB expansion for jobs in the Clear Lake area is a first step to providing enough land for future job growth. However, work remains before these lands can be developed for jobs. This work includes wetland mitigation, storm water management, economic development strategies, infrastructure needs and finding the funds to accomplish these efforts. This is a high-priority Council directive that will require a moderate to high level of staff time for Planning and other City work teams to complete. Success depends on the cooperation and support of state and federal agencies.
Code Improvement: Needed Housing Standards
Housing that is affordable to all income levels is a top priority for our community. In Eugene, all types of housing are considered “needed housing” – a special term under state law that allows for a “clear and objective” (no discretion allowed) path to development approval. Improving the city’s land use application criteria for needed housing to better align with our community’s current needs and values will help facilitate housing development on existing land within the Urban Growth Boundary. This high-priority Council directive will require a moderate to high staff investment. The target for a proposal to Council is within one year of State UGB acknowledgement.
River Road-Santa Clara Neighborhood Plan
The River Road and Santa Clara neighborhoods are unique communities with a patchwork of City and County jurisdiction, special districts, and an out-of-date plan. A tremendous volunteer outreach effort by residents of both neighborhoods over several years has laid the foundation for a strong partnership with the City to create a new vision and plan. The time is right to match that investment and help a large, 30,000-resident area of our community prepare for the future. As outlined in the Envision Eugene Recommendation and recently directed by Council, staff is working with both neighborhoods to begin a more formal planning process that will advance a local neighborhood vision in the context of Envision Eugene. The planning process is a collaborative project among the two community organizations, Lane County, and the City. It will cover the four key topic areas of land use, transportation, parks and natural resources, and economic development, as well as addressing governance and public safety. Public events begin this fall. In coordination with the neighborhood plan update, staff will work with Lane Transit District, the community organizations, and the public to implement a federal transit corridor planning and implementation grant for the future EmX corridor along River Road. These two projects will effectively operate as a single effort in the eyes of the general public, while allowing staff to develop a model for neighborhood planning and for implementation of the Envision Eugene concept of ‘key transit corridors’. This project will require a high level of staffing.
Downtown Riverfront Plan Implementation
Through Envision Eugene, our community has formally recognized downtown as the best place for high density residential development. Our adopted growth plan calls for 1,000 new units of high-density housing downtown – above and beyond what the market is expected to provide on its own. The downtown riverfront (EWEB) redevelopment site is a major opportunity to achieve that objective. The property underwent master planning resulting in a Special Area Zone that regulates future development, and the City’s Community Development Division is working with the potential developers and other departments on re-use of existing buildings, new construction, and a City park on the riverfront. Planning staff will be needed to assist with implementation of the master plan for the downtown riverfront property. This is a high priority project for the City of Eugene. Planning staff will likely play a support role that may evolve or grow as the development proposal is refined. Future actions include administering the land use code and conducting design reviews of development proposals to support a positive, enduring legacy downtown.
University Area Planning
For many years, neighborhoods surrounding the University of Oregon have asked for a new plan to address long-standing issues and impacts arising mainly from student housing. As outlined in the Envision Eugene Recommendation, this planning effort is a high priority after UGB adoption, and will include collaboration with the Office of Human Rights and Neighborhood Involvement (HRNI) on capacity building and public outreach strategies in the South University, Fairmount, Amazon, and West University neighborhoods. Future planning is anticipated to address infill design, transportation needs, and other development issues. Planning staff time is expected to be low during the capacity building phase.
Bethel Neighborhood Planning
The community and City Council have been interested in economic development and community planning in the Bethel area for several years. Future work in the Bethel neighborhood will pick up where Building a Better Bethel (BBB) left off, several years ago. The focus of the BBB effort was economic development along the Highway 99 corridor and public investments neighborhood wide. The Highway 99 corridor is currently being studied for future EmX service, and the Clear Lake expansion area (item 4 above) is connected to the neighborhood along the northern edge. Council direction in spring 2017 included a future focus on planning in the Bethel neighborhood. This project has yet to be scoped, and will likely require a low level of support while objectives are clarified and other work is completed.
Comprehensive Plan Phase II
Our community’s vision covers a wide range of topics important to Eugeneans, from housing and employment to livability. Council direction is to bring Eugene’s policies for these topics out of the current, regional Metro Plan and into a new, Eugene-specific Comprehensive Plan (the Envision Eugene Comprehensive Plan). The first phase of the Envision Eugene Comprehensive Plan was developed to coincide with the adoption of the UGB. As such, it addressed only those policies necessary to adopt the UGB. The result is that policies for several topics remain in the regional Metro Plan or are not addressed at all (resiliency, public health). To complete Eugene’s own plan, staff will work with boards, commissions, and the public to develop policy guidance related to public involvement, housing, compact development, natural resources, community resilience, and public facilities. Members of the Planning Commission will be part of a boards and commissions/local partners review group and the Commission as a whole will provide a formal recommendation to City Council on proposed Comprehensive Plan updates. This project is anticipated to require a moderate level moderate level of Planning staff resources, coupled with the parcel specific plan diagram project (see below).
Parcel Specific Plan Diagram
Every parcel of land in Eugene is slated for a certain kind of use in keeping with State law, for example parks, industry or housing. Our current map showing these planned uses was created using old technology and not as accurate as it needs to be. This creates problems and uncertainty during the development process that costs our community time and money. Using today’s technology we can create a much more accurate map that clears up uncertainties for every parcel in the city. This project will involve significant research, outreach to property owners and interested parties, coordination with Lane County and Lane Council of Governments, and adoption of a new parcel-specific land use diagram and related policies. The Planning Commission will provide a formal recommendation to the City Council on any proposed designation changes and new policies that may arise. This project is expected to require a moderate level of Planning Staff resources, coupled with Phase II of the Envision Eugene Comprehensive Plan.
Envision Eugene Vision to Action
Regulations and policies are strong tools for guiding our future, however there is more that we can do to help Eugene meet our community’s vision. Through the many conversations that gave rise to Envision Eugene, our community asked us to fully express its values, what the vision looks like, and what actions we can take to support it. While our focus has been to adopt a new UGB, several non-regulatory efforts have been underway since 2012 to support this goal, and are ready to be finalized and shared. The complete Envision Eugene document set includes four parts: the (I) Community Vision, (II) Comprehensive Plan, (III) Urban Form Plan, and (IV) Action Plan. The Comprehensive Plan (Part II) – the only regulatory component of the set – was adopted in part along with our new UGB; additional chapters will be added later (see Comprehensive Plan Phase 2). The work item described here includes completing and publishing the remaining, non-regulatory documents: Parts I, III, and IV. Design tools like the Community Design Handbook have already been completed and published. These documents will provide a bridge of inspiration and best practices that links our vision to our regulatory framework and development on the ground. The full document set supports our vision by giving us a common language of ideas, words and images to talk about excellent design, and lines out steps we can take to make it happen.
Corridor Planning: MovingAhead
Our community’s vision of a compact, healthy, livable city must be supported by safe, efficient, and comfortable ways for people to move around, such as walking, biking, riding transit or driving a car. The MovingAhead project is a partnership with Lane Transit District and the City of Eugene that will help our community decide what kind of advanced bus service we need along our busiest street corridors, as well as improving walking and biking around bus stations. The five corridors include Highway 99, River Road, Coburg Road, MLK Jr. Boulevard, and Oak/Pearl/Amazon Parkway to Lane Community College. Past efforts have taken many years to plan a single corridor. The MovingAhead project aims to take on five corridors at once by listening carefully to residents and property owners and asking them to help choose the design they feel is needed. The project will also set the priority for when each corridor will be built. The technical analysis for each corridor alternative is expected to be brought to decision makers in summer 2018. More detailed corridor design and construction phases will follow. Planning staff will continue to serve on the Project Management Team through summer 2018.
Through Envision Eugene, our community made it clear that we care deeply about the quality and design of our built environment. Excellent design supports the outstanding quality of life that makes Eugene a great place to live. By encouraging buildings and places that we love, we help make city living an attractive and viable choice for more people. This helps protect our surrounding farm and forest lands by reducing urban sprawl, and also protects the quality of life for today’s residents. The Urban Design team creates design tools for the community such as handbooks and guidelines, and brings a design excellence perspective to major civic projects such as building a new city hall or a potential future farmer’s market building, as well as street design projects like Willamette to Willamette (8th Avenue). The team’s urban design staff facilitate better design outcomes across the community by providing design assistance to private development projects as they are proposed. Recently completed educational materials include the Community Design Handbook, the Missing Middle Housing Handbook, and more detailed brochures – for example, Successful Storefronts, and Living in the City: Urban Residential Frontages – to provide best practices to property owners, developers, and the local design community. This work item requires a steady but low level of staff support, with periodic need for greater involvement.
Investment Program: System Development Charge Restructuring
Our community’s vision includes compact growth around key corridors and downtown. This approach helps protect our farm and forest land, and promotes healthy, safe, walkable neighborhoods. It also helps lower transportation costs and reduces time spent traveling from place to place. Because many barriers to compact development exist in Eugene, we will not be able to realize our vision without incentives. Following Council direction from 2012, the Planning Division will work with other departments to reduce System Development Charges for projects along key corridors and downtown, as well as for secondary dwellings and smaller/attached housing types. The Planning Commission will be updated on progress as it occurs and will be consulted for input as incentive programs are considered. This project will involve a lower level of Planning staff resources.
Crow Road implementation measures
Eugeneans place a high value on providing housing affordable to all income levels that also fits well within our neighborhoods. In 2014, the City Council took action to free up land for more housing in several areas within our existing urban growth boundary. The Crow Road area is the largest of these areas. Staff worked closely with residents and property owners to set a high-level plan for how the area could be developed, including locations for different types of housing as well as commercial development. This plan was adopted by Council in the form of new land use designations for the area. The work item described here will follow up on that effort with more specific design standards that recognize the special, rural qualities of the Crow Road area while allowing for new housing of various types. The Planning Commission will provide input on the project as it progresses, resulting in a formal recommendation to the City Council on proposed land use code amendments. This is anticipated to require a low to moderate level of staff resources; some efficiency can be gained by building off of work in the River Road-Santa Clara area, which will address similar design challenges where urban residents desire a more rural character.
Code Improvement: Cell Tower Standards for R-1 Zone
The livability of our residential neighborhoods is a core value for our community members. As such, it’s important that we limit the impacts from cell towers and related facilities. At the same time, these facilities provide access to data and communication that most people in our community rely on every day. To address these issues, City Council directed staff to initiate changes to the city’s land use code regarding telecommunications (cell) towers. The proposed changes will offer more protection to residential areas from the impacts of cell towers, while meeting federal regulations designed to ensure telecommunications companies are able to provide needed service to communities.
Code Improvement: Zone Transitions (city-wide)
Residents across the city have asked for better design standards for development that occurs where two different zones meet, typically with different standards for building height and other factors. For example, land zoned for commercial use adjoins land zoned for low density residential use in many places around the community, creating problems that arise from the different scale of development. This project includes working with residents, property owners, developers, and others to help craft better land use code standards for these “transition” areas where they occur throughout the city. New standards could include setbacks, step-backs (where bigger buildings slope away from low density areas), landscaping, and other building and site design standards. This effort will require a moderate level of staff resources from both the long range and short range sections; some efficiency may be gained by examining this issue as part of the River Road / Santa Clara Neighborhood Plan (see separate description).
Missing Middle Housing/Housing Affordability
Eugene’s Housing Needs Analysis shows a need to provide housing of all types for people at all income levels. There is a growing community interest in promoting “missing middle” housing forms such as duplexes, cottage housing, row houses and secondary dwellings, which are in demand but rarely built in Eugene today. Strategies to address housing affordability and choice include removing land use code barriers to missing middle types, creating incentives, and trying out new approaches with pilot projects. As the missing middle housing conversation emerges, we will track and scope Planning’s role and how it should be prioritized relative to other, in-progress work.
Corridor Planning/Code Update: Fixing Setbacks for Walkable Streets
If we are to succeed in creating healthy, walkable, compact places to live and work along our main streets, as our community vision calls for, it is vital that we provide the kind of facilities and regulations that support them. Although development along the corridors is supposed to focus on pedestrian needs, there are many places where our current regulations such as building setbacks do not account for these needs. This work will establish setbacks in the right locations so that our corridors can evolve into safe, attractive places. City Council discussed this item many times over the years, most recently as part of the West Eugene EmX project, where West 11th Avenue lacked sufficient setbacks along certain segments. We will be tracking and scoping this item for future inclusion on the work plan.
Downtown Commercial Setbacks for Walkable Streets
Community expectations have grown as development has increased in and around the downtown. Setbacks that allow for ample sidewalks and a pleasant walking environment, including privacy for residents of first floor housing units, are needed in the downtown. Recent City Council discussion has raised this issue, which we will track and scope for future inclusion on the work plan.