September 29, 2022

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

EWEB, public agencies ‘shut out public, terrible for democracy’

7 min read
Witnesses gathered early Monday for the start of logging at the East 40th project site. The state is reviewing EWEB's erosion permit.

Witnesses gathered early Monday for the start of logging at the East 40th project site. The state is reviewing EWEB's erosion permit.

Loggers started quickly Monday, before a LUBA appeal stopped work at the East 40th Water Storage Project. At EWEB’s monthly board meeting on Tuesday, the public comment:

Ralph McDonald: [00:00:12] My name is Ralph McDonald and I’m the co-chair of the Southwest Hills Neighborhood association. I think EWEB is trying to play hardball with the neighbors and the concerned population of Eugene. I’ve been told that it’s private property. I’ve been told by staff that EWEB doesn’t need a city permit, well, you need four city permits to the city. The city says you need permits you haven’t applied for because you did a midnight massacre between Friday, getting your permit late afternoon, and cutting down 250 trees between 7:45 and mid-morning of Monday.

Susan Barnhart: [00:00:49] I’m Susan Barnhart, I love the trees. I think we all love trees and saw that destruction and execution of all those trees. So sad to see the destruction, all those trees, 200-year-old trees. Maybe in the 1950s that was a good plan, but it’s not a good plan during this catastrophe going on now in the climate to blast bedrock to destroy trees. A few trees are still out there, so please don’t take any more of them down. It’s just heartbreaking because you have no public hearings about it to not explore other things. So time when we should be conserving water, water is very important. It is not a time to destroy an urban forest.

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David: [00:01:42] Hello. My name is David. I’m here to talk about scale. Several people have brought up, carbon sequestration, global warming, pileated woodpeckers and Monarch butterflies. I’m here to say, I don’t believe this is a scale for us to solve those issues. This is a municipal water supply you guys have been planning based on that elevation. There’s only so many sites in our city that have that elevation that are suitable for putting water storage into, but it is at a scale that served that water supply for the entire city and restore a small patch of the oak savannah. So it’s a perfect scale for keeping those two things. I don’t see it as a site to deal with these larger issues that we’re all worried about in our world today.

Ruth Gallagher: [00:02:34] My name is Ruth Gallagher and I I can tried to find out about this. EWEB , did send out a mailing, informing us. They were going to have a meeting. I went to that meeting the first one in 2020. And after that we didn’t hear anything. I put my name on a sheet to sign up to go up the hill but somehow that fell through, even though I did sign up. I had no idea that this was going to happen and, and there’s a 100 year old, 101 year old woman who lives on the corner of Hilyard, had no idea.

So I’m asking you why? Why didn’t you send out a detailed mailing? Why did you not send out a detailed explanation in the mail to your customers? Because we got one about smart meters. I thank you for that, but that was it, pretty much , and this is where we all fell down here. Because if you don’t explain things to the neighbors, they’re gonna think something is wrong. Just kind of a natural thing. And we feel like we were blindsided. You need to do a better job of this. You really fell down on this.

Krista Rojas: [00:03:41] Eugene pretends to be a green city when it’s anything but. And the thing that’s so criminal about what you did yesterday morning, rushing through, because you knew that we were mobilizing because people didn’t know. And the only people who knew were the immediate neighbors. And I talked to some of them and they didn’t know that the project had been doubled. So, like a lot of people in Eugene, there’s just a feeling of resignation, really sad, terrible for democracy. And that’s because all of our institutions have just shut the public out pretty much. And it’s concerning. I’m somebody who’s concerned about the green washing that goes on here, that sustainability, you have a beautiful statement, vision statement, but it doesn’t in any way come close to what the reality is.

Bo Johnson: [00:04:46] My name is Bo Johnson. How can you say you’re environmentally conscious while doing what you’re doing? For one, I hadn’t even heard about this project while I was working my job and saw a flyer from saving the EWEB forest. I didn’t hear about it from you guys.

Secondly you tore down the forest, which is over 150 years old. When I was out there on August 2nd, you guys started cutting clearly before and much after the time that you had scheduled. And having to talk to people that didn’t know that that project was happening, I saw tears, I saw people crying at removing that forest.

And the thing is, I don’t think you’re unique in the fact that you guys are able to advertise yourselves as environmentally conscious company while doing things that don’t represent that. I think what you are is a larger symptom of something that is going on within the entire United States. You take ideas of being environmentally conscious and you integrate that into yourself so you can mislead the public, and you can continually do things that are actively hurting us, and actively hurting your own community. That was a beautiful forest out there, and it was very devastating seeing that.

Marco Elliot: [00:05:49] My name is Marco Elliot. I would like to be positive and give you feedback that can help you. So, first of all, I would like to talk about public process. I think the July 6th board meeting (that I wished to testify on, but I couldn’t) was a total catastrophe in the sense that, I heard very eloquent statements from 21 people, including the young woman who was literally begging for fairness. I remember the word fairness. She claimed that it wouldn’t be fair to cut down those dreams, but I’m a former high school teacher and I felt crushed when the testimony by witnesses ended and you guys continued your job and literally ignored this young girl’s plea and everybody else’s plea. So, I understand why, because your own Joe Harwood openly stated in the Register-Guard recently that you only listen to experts. You don’t really care for the public.

Alan Hancock: [00:07:03] Hi, I’m Alan Hancock. Sometimes what seems like an imperative at the time, doesn’t seem so imperative in hindsight. And no example of this is more obvious than the EWEB board’s decision to build a nuclear power plant north of Florence in the 1960s. I’m going to quote a little bit from Bob Warren, who’s a long-time Eugene resident, wrote an article about this. EWEB was predicting a huge demand for power that could only be met, they asserted, with the nuclear option.

Questions began to emerge about the cost and the safety of nuclear power. EWEB at first dismiss the protestors as annoyances and treated them with scarcely disguised hostility. Community members in 1969 put a measure on the ballot. They adopted the slogan. ‘We can wait. We should wait.’ In 1970, EWEB ran an ad in the Register Guard in bold print, says, ‘Vote No on Measure 52, Save your nuclear power plant.’

In 1974, EWEB, Keith Parks, the new general manager, said, ‘Activists did a great favor for this community. They saved its butt.’ Well, history repeats itself. As citizens are still saying, ‘ You can wait, you should wait.’

Joseph Hubble: [00:08:31] I became aware of this project, it wasn’t that long ago, and I live fairly close. Then I spoke with some friends who felt the same way that EWEB had not done a good job, a woefully inadequate job, of notifying the public.

There was a meeting to take place at the site soon after I found out. And it was a meeting to find out what we should do to make it beautiful after we’re done logging the place up. Lipstick on a pig. You guys did a crappy job of reaching out to the public, just a few neighbors in the area with such a massive project. Are you kidding? That’s a disgusting, horrible, woeful job. … You guys are volunteers. Volunteers, that’s all you are. And so at this point I am disgusted with your job and I think you should all quit en masse.

John Q: [00:09:33] LUBA issued a temporary stay on new logging while reviewing an appeal of the City’s erosion permit.

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