Message From Your City Manager

Friday, July 17, 2020


Happy Friday, Eugene.


The last four months have been filled with so many challenges, uncertainties and pain, it’s hard to know how to start these letters. I know we’re all experiencing lots of emotional swings as we continue to work through layers of issues and community concerns. I had hoped by mid-July that the COVID-19 curve would have been flattened and we could all enjoy some pieces of what we love about summer in the Willamette Valley. Unfortunately, this virus just keeps plugging away and we continue to see cases rising. While Lane County remains in Phase 2, the number of active cases in our community continues to grow and the newest health modeling shows a potentially steep upward trend. As you probably know, yesterday was Oregon’s highest case number yet. Our teams continue to work closely with health experts at Lane County Public Health and the Oregon Health Authority. It will take the entire community working together to make a difference and stop the spike in cases. On a positive note, we know what prevents infection and we can all take steps every day to make it better by practicing the 3 W’s – wear a face covering, watch your distance and wash, wash, wash your hands. 


You probably already know that the Governor implemented additional rules, but to be safe, I’ll repeat them here. Starting Wednesday, July 15, masks, face shields or face coverings are now required statewide in outdoor public spaces when physical distancing is not possible. This is in addition to the current statewide face covering requirement for indoor public spaces (for example, grocery stores, pharmacies, public transit, personal services providers, restaurants, bars, retail stores, and more). Governor Brown shared that the decision came because of the continued rise in COVID-19 cases both in urban and rural counties. A new ban was also placed on indoor social get-togethers of more than 10 people. This limit includes indoor dinner parties, birthday parties, graduations, potlucks, book clubs, etc. This new rule does not change the operation of businesses and churches at this time. You can learn more from the Oregon Health Authority.


And one last good news item on masks. The City of Eugene’s Planning and Development Department received close to 28,000 KN95 masks from the Oregon Office of Emergency Management to help support local businesses as they re-open and continue to serve the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses with under 50 employees qualify to receive these free masks and can receive up to 80 masks per business. Masks will be ready to pick up at the Eugene Atrium building (101 W. 10th Ave, back entrance) from 1-6 p.m. on July 24 and will be distributed on a first come, first served basis. If you have questions about this service or other business needs, please email bizhelp@eugene-or.gov.


Since I last wrote, we have continued to hear a lot of community feedback and concerns about racial equity, especially as it relates to policing and police reform. While Eugene has been in the national spotlight for the work of CAHOOTS, we’re hearing from many a desire to increase spending for programs that support our most vulnerable community members. The Eugene City Council received extensive input from the community on the public safety elements of the FY21 budget, which was approved on June 22. In addition to their on-going commitment to 21st century policing reform, members of the City Council have also noted the need to take thoughtful and deliberate actions addressing discrimination and systemic bias. As part of that effort, the Council is scheduled to meet at 5:30 pm on July 20 to specifically begin working on issues related to public safety funding including the Community Safety Initiative (CSI). That meeting will be available live on Comcast channel 21 and online, both live and recorded, at www.eugene-or.gov/webcasts.

  

And while there are many things going on to talk about, the last I will share this week is a link to the draft Climate Action Plan 2.0 that Council is scheduled to adopt at their July 29 work session. The plan builds on the first draft released in November 2019 and includes significant changes recommended by the Mayor’s Climate Recovery Ordinance Ad Hoc Work Group and other community members since the first draft was released. There is a lot of great information in the plan and appendices that can help you think about ways to continue reducing your carbon footprint. The plan does not include a strategy to ban natural gas, though that is an idea that has been suggested and included in the section titled “Community Ideas For Potential Action.” 


I hope that you get some time to get outside and enjoy summer – July is Parks and Rec month. I started my career with Eugene working for Parks in 1996, and our parks and open spaces are one of my favorite things about living in Eugene. When I ask people what they love about Eugene, it is often a tie between the people and the outdoor opportunities and beauty. If you can’t get outside right now, the Downtown Riverfront Park which is under construction will have a Facebook Live tour on July 24th on the Parks and Open Space Facebook page. One of the elements I’m most excited about is the public art honoring Eugene’s black history and the “Across the Bridge” community that was displaced and destroyed after residents were evicted in 1949. You can listen to a great piece that KLCC did on the inclusive fountain.


In community spirit,


Sarah Medary

City Manager



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