The intent of the plan is two-fold: to enhance a neighborhood center that already serves a large number of Eugeneans, and to set design standards for future growth and redevelopment that is likely to occur in and near South Willamette whether the code is adopted or not.
These twin purposes have been an important part of the conversation over the last five years, from visioning to code implementation. The first purpose is about creating more opportunities for people to find employment, do business, and meet daily needs in close proximity to their homes; for streets that are safe, comfortable and interesting to walk along; and for a greater diversity of housing options to meet a growing diversity of demographics and lifestyles.
The second purpose is about establishing design standards that require development to meet the community’s expectations. Through the Envision Eugene process, City Council has determined that there is sufficient land for housing inside our existing Urban Growth Boundary to accommodate 20 years of population growth. This presumes the development of currently vacant lands and the redevelopment of other properties. For multi-family housing, the city’s approach is to prioritize Key Corridors and Core Commercial Areas, and South Willamette is identified as both. Whether or not the South Willamette Special Area Zone is adopted, there is capacity to add development in the district. The existing zoning allows much more than is currently built, as is the case in many places across the city. The proposed code is not a tool to increase density or make development happen faster; the code serves as a set of rules that future development must follow, focusing on building form and design transitions.
In 2014, City staff used the Redevelopment Estimating Tool (RET), an analysis framework developed collaboratively by staff and a community advisory committee, the Technical Resource Group, to compare the redevelopment expected to occur under the South Willamette Special Area Zone with the baseline of expected redevelopment under existing zoning. The conclusion of the study was that the code had minimal impact on the quantity of redevelopment, potentially 60 additional units over 20 years in the entire area. If City Council voted to implement economic incentives, such as the MUPTE program, it would raise the number to 250 units in 20 years. The study demonstrated that the primary cause of redevelopment in the area would be the financial balance between construction costs and rents or sales, and not the land use code.