As a community, Eugene has the vision and the passion to address the challenges that face us. We have detailed plans of all the things we know we need to do in order to reduce our climate impact, providing housing options for Eugenians of all income levels, provide a path to stability and prosperity for the future. We have talked and talked. It is time to act, because for too many Eugene residents, the options just aren't there.
Eugene can't fix all of the woes of the world its own, but Eugene should be a leader in developing and implementing creative and progressive solutions. Yes, this means that some things will change. Change is hard. But the systems we have now are not sustainable. Together, we can make the choice to do better.
Government accountability is about more than just transparency. Accountability is about making sure that our actions are producing the outcomes needed to achieve our goals. As City, we are spending too much time and money on projects and processes that don't help us get to where we need to be. When the time comes to make tough or controversial decisions to take action, our leaders delay. That needs to stop. We are asking our residents to make hard choices without a lot of options every day. We can’t expect less from our city leaders.
Eugene is facing a severe housing shortage, both in raw number of homes, and in making sure that we have enough of the right type of homes for our changing demographics. The causes are numerous—from zoning, to financing, to the way we build houses. We need to change the way we approach housing so that all Eugene residents have housing options that meet their needs, lifestyle, and budget. This means updating our zoning code so that it reflects 2020's values, not 1935's. It means looking at how we pay for housing, where and how we build it, how we reuse and restore it. This will help ensure that all Eugene residents have housing options that meet their individual needs.
Each unhoused person in Eugene is different, they are unhoused for different reasons, and they have different needs. Eugene can’t solve homelessness on its own. We need to be working fast to provide multiple paths out of homelessness, and to prevent people from becoming unhoused in the first place. The City has a detailed roadmap of steps to take to truly address our homelessness crisis, not just shift people around the city. We need to make sure that we don't just talk about implementing that plan, but actually do it, and do it now.
Time is running out to take real action on Climate Change. We’ve got the plans. The changes we need to make are big and difficult. But we can’t afford not to make them. And we can’t delay any more. Reducing our climate impact requires more than just going after the low-hanging fruit, but making sure our systems-- from housing to transportation to energy-- make it easy for residents to make choices that will reduce their carbon footprint.
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our lives. We have, as a community, sacrificed to save lives. And we are going to have to continue to fight to get through this. We aren’t going to be back to “normal” by November, or January. Therefore, it is essential that we work to maintain and increase our resilience, and focus on what we can do now to set the stage for a strong recovery. As we continue to address this ongoing crisis, we need to remain nimble and respond in a manner that is going to help bring us renewed success in the long term.
Eugene can no longer ignore our long history of racism and racial injustice. Oregon has a deeply racist history which has permeated many aspects of our systems and lives. The experience of living in Eugene is much different for our residents who are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color. We can no longer pretend that mere statements of inclusion are going to address this. We need to deeply examine where we are and where we want to go, and make actual changes to the way we act in order to create a more equitable and just Eugene for everyone.
The structure of our City government needs to reflect the priorities of our community. We need a new City department, with its own budget, staff, and resources, to address the critical issues our community faces around racial and economic equity, human services, and human rights. These are issues which affect the quality of life for all our residents. If we are going to create the kind of transformative change needed to build a better Eugene, we need to begin now.