HB 2001 Code Amendments Gut
Willamette River Greenway

DISCLAIMER: The Eugene Planning Division staff has not provided the necessary maps and explanations of what the impact will be if the proposed WRG amendments and the proposed HB 2001 code amendments are approved. I have made my best effort to fill that gap with information that is accurate. Please let me know if there are any errors or omissions in the following.

NEW! In response to questions that I posed to the city staff person handling HB 2001 code amendment communications, I received confirmation (in staff’s opinion, of course) of the following facts:

  • New residential uses are not allowed inside the narrow WRG Setback Boundary.
  • Residential uses within the WRG Boundary and outside the WRG Setback Boundary would be subject to either EC 9.8814 (the very minimal “clear and objective” standards) or EC 9.8815 (the existing, toothless discretionary standards).
  • Neither Oregon Revised Statutes nor Oregon Administrative Rules would prohibit the addition under EC 9.8814 of a Maximum Height Limit standard that was lower than the current R-1 standard. That implies the same liberty to adopt other more stringent standards, such as Maximum Lot Coverage, inside the WRG.
  • Staff was uncertain whether a standard (e.g., Maximum Building Height) under EC 9.8814 could be more restrictive for “middle housing” (e.g., a fourplex) than for a single-family dwelling.

    The “net” on this confirms that: a) The staff proposed amendments would allow extreme residential development in the Greenway, except inside the narrow “setback” area; and b) The City Council could adopt standards for the entire Greenway that would be much more stringent than in the R-1 Zone outside the Greenway — this is exactly what we need to push the City Council to do in order to adequately protect the Willamette River Greenway from rapacious developers.

    Click here to see what the staff proposed code would allow.

I’ve created three map segments that illustrate what city staff are trying to pull off by adding an innocent-looking “setback line” and burying the impact in code that together make it appear the Willamette River Greenway is still fully protected with the new code.

The staff web page deceptively states in bold type:
The proposed code amendments will not change the adopted Willamette Greenway boundary.
This ruse attempts to hide the fact that the new “setback line” becomes the de facto line limiting where the Willamette River Greenway protections remain in full force to a narrow strip next to the bank.

The maps above show the true situation. Every part of the WRG outside the “setback line” (the red line roughly paralleling the river) now applies such minimal standards that very intensive development is allowed.

Click here to view the map that staff proposes. Note how much of the Willamette River Greenway would be outside this artificial “setback.”

Commercial uses are subject only to the existing amorphous standards at EC 9.8815. In past cases, the staff has recommended, and the hearings official has approved extreme development based on the flimsiest of applicant narratives.

But more problematic is that all housing development outside the setback line, but within large area of the Greenway would require only EC 9.8814:

  • Maximum length of facade 80 feet (only if within 40 feet of the setback line)
  • “Low-level” landscaping along the setback line. Plantings must be “native” — but not necessarily appropriate to riparian and flood zones.
    “a continuous screen at least 30 inches high within 3 years and maintained at a height not to exceed 42 inches”
  • Fences are allowed, but cannot be barb wire, chain link, or cyclone, and must be 50% transparent.
  • No parking area between any building and the setback line. (Of course, can be right up to the setback line if no building behind it.)
  • For 5-or-more unit developments, a sidewalk to the property line nearest the river.

So not what’s NOT included and would be allowed by the HB 2001 amendments for fourplexes and so-called “cottage clusters.”

  • Maximum Lot Coverage by structures (vehicle use areas could cover more area): 75%
  • Maximum Building Height: 42 feet
  • Parking could be 10 feet (potentially closer). Totally visible and audible, of course because the landscaping screen is limited to 42 inches! (Idiots!)
  • Solid or masonry walls permitted 10 feet from the setback line\
  • No tree protections
  • etc.

Contact the City Council and demand that they immediately tell the Planning Director to stop this attempt to giveaway our cherished and irreplaceable natural environment along the Willamette River just to let rapacious developers make a bigger profit.

Here are the City Councilor contacts for wards adjacent to the Willamette River. Push them to stand up for strong Greenway protections.

Alan Zelenka, Ward 3 — Adjacent to the lower/southside of the river
Jennifer Yeh, Ward 4 — Adjacent to the lower/northside of the river
Mike Clark, Ward 5 — Adjacent to the upper/eastside of the river
Claire Syrett, Ward 7 — Adjacent to the upper/westside of the river

Although the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on March 8th at 5:30 PM, the current commissioners have repeatedly demonstrated that they do no more than “rubber stamp” staff proposals for deregulation (or make the staff proposal even worse). So — get your comments directly to the Mayor and City Council above.

Click here for the City web page with the proposed WRG amendments.