West Eugene Parkway encounters congestion

by Dave Stone

On May 29, LCAS President Maeve Sowles spoke before the Eugene City Council in favor of retaining protected wetlands and against constructing the costly, ineffective West Eugene Parkway. This hearing is one of many hurdles Parkway planners face.
Oregon has the best land use planning system in the country. It serves to prevent runaway sprawl and development that benefits a few land speculators at the expense of taxpayers, the public and the natural world.
Transportation facilities--highways, bikeways, railways and public transportation--have more influence on housing patterns and commerce than any other single land use. Thus, our land use planning system includes many checks and balances that require coordinated decision-making regarding transportation.
In the months since the November nonbinding advisory vote narrowly passed, several local planning bodies have considered the West Eugene Parkway. On March 19, with little interest in discussion or public input, the Lane County Planning Commission voted 5-1 in favor of the Parkway.
On April 15, the Eugene Planning Commission rejected recommending three amendments to Transplan, the basic planning document that needs to be changed to allow the Parkway. Two amendments were unanimously defeated, and the third was opposed by a vote of 5-1.
On April 16, the Springfield Planning Commission voted 4-2 in favor of these same amendments, in spite of the fact that none of the Commissioners could identify the land use planning goals they were voting to bypass.
Also that week, a Portland developer with over 200 acres of land near the western end of the Parkway threatened Eugene City Councilors with the possibility that they could be held personally liable for financial damages if they voted against the Parkway.
On June 19 (next week, as of this writing) the Eugene City Council will consider the Transplan amendments that the Eugene Planning Commission has recommended they reject. If they don’t vote on this recommendation then, they are scheduled to do so on July 8.