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Keeping in touch: Notes from the Mayor

Mayor Lucy VinisThis blog aims to nurture our conversation and understanding of the issues before us. Every week, I will provide a weekly update on the activities in the city government, my activities as mayor, and brief reflections on progress, opportunities and challenges. You are invited to respond with reactions, insights and questions. We do this work together.

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Nov 27

Weekly Recap - November 27, 2019

Posted on November 27, 2019 at 10:55 AM by Elena Domingo

The big news of the past week is the release of the CAP 2.0 draft.  This roadmap to meeting our climate recovery goals will come to council for final approval in January.  Now is the time for the public to review the document and offer their critique about the priorities and strategies it describes.  Once approved the tangible work begins in the form of an action plan.

This document reflects partnerships with major users and emitters of fossil fuels and GHGs; incorporates data about current emissions and projected reductions if the city and our partners implement our individual strategies; and incorporates the concerns and needs of our most vulnerable citizens as represented by the Equity Panel.  The city’s work is founded on existing policies in the Transportation System Plan and Envision Eugene.  But it is also clear in the CAP 2.0 that even with full implementation of the TSP, for example, we will not meet our goals.  Additional strategies include increasing the  adoption of electric vehicles and greater biking, walking and transit use. It also calls for vastly reducing our use of natural gas, in favor of biogas, renewables and electricity.  None of these transitions are easy; all require both public and private investment, including capacity at the household level to change lifestyle patterns and investments.  Please offer your thoughts and insights through the city’s Website: https://engage.eugene-or.gov/sustainability

Council also received an update and briefing on community safety investments. Chief Skinner reported the funds from the $8.6 million appropriated last December have been used to support work with at risk youth through 15th Night, improved car camping services; and added conestoga huts; funded eight officers in the Street Crimes Unit; pulled 70 firearms off the street; and fully staffed the 911 center.  Funding has also sustained our community court system which served 980 walk-ins in six months; increased the number of jail beds and reduced the number of offenders who were released due to inadequate jail capacity.

The city’s financial director reported on progress in implementing the Community Safety Payroll Tax, approved by council in June and scheduled to begin collecting from employees and employers in January 2021.  This will produce $23.6 million in increased revenue to support the full range of public safety services, increasing the expansion and outreach initiated with the $8.6 million bridge funding.

In a related session, Council received the first of what we expect to be regular updates from Municipal Court Judge Gill.  Judge Gill offered valuable insights about the role of the municipal court in assuring that misdemeanor offenders are treated appropriately throughout the system.  He clarified, for example, that jail capacity will always prioritize offenders who have been tried and sentenced, over offenders who are being held awaiting trial; and that people with multiple citations for unsanctioned camping, for example, are not held until they can pay their fines. “There will be no debtors prison on my watch,” he said.  Our struggles with repeat nuisance offenders is only partly a capacity issue; it is more about an inadequacy of related services that could end the cycle for people – services like mental health and addiction treatment and supportive housing.  Violent criminals will always be held.

Finally, last Friday the city hosted Light Up Downtown.  I opened the evening with an acknowledgement that our community is built on Kalapuya llihi, the traditional indigenous territory of the Kalapuya.  Today, I unveiled the names of the new streets in the Riverfront District. The new street names honor two African Americans - Annie Mims and Wiley Griffon, and recognize the Kalapuya legacy through the Kalapuyan word for duck, Nak nak. I also opened the street naming event with a land acknowledgment and I intend to continue to reinforce this important narrative: we are all guests in this land and the contributions of guests and indigenous people together  build our community.