by John Quetzalcoatl Murray
Local news organizations obtained the February 2022 petitions that asked the Eugene City Council and Lane Transit District not to expand bus rapid transit.
Viewing the petitions allows local residents to objectively weigh statements made by supporters of Councilor Claire Syrett and by those seeking her recall from office.
Councilor Syrett helped advance the EmX option, saying she had not heard of any concerns on River Road.
The cover letter within the 445-page packet states that the petitions were personally delivered to the Eugene mayor, city council, and to the LTD board of directors.
After the first 14 pages—-the cover letter and an article on the transit-industrial complex—the remaining pages contain one petition per page, organized primarily by corridor.
Each “Petition to Stop MovingAhead on River Road” states: “We, the undersigned owners, businesses and residents along River Road do STRENUOUSLY OBJECT to pursuing MovingAhead’s EmX plans. NO ONE has consulted us with details of the plans or gained our acceptance of plans that would affect our properties. There is NO NEED for the plans to be implemented…”
Signed petitions relating to River Road appear on pages 15 to 151; the Highway 99 corridor on pages 152-206; Coburg Road on pages 207-292; MovingAhead petitions on pages 293-377, and a mix on pages 378-445.
On inspection, over 86%—125 of the 145 signed petitions opposing River Road EmX—provide an address on River Road. The complete packet with all petitions is provided here, and the River Road-only petitions are available here. The public records request to LTD appears here.
The recall election has drawn heated public comment in local newspapers and social media, much of it related to the petitions. Local news organizations requested copies of the petitions to make them more readily available to the public.
The cover letter states that the petitions were collected after sharing full-color copies of the CH2M Hill planning documents with local businesses. The engineering drawings demonstrate where the “EmX” and “Enhanced Corridor” options might affect River Road properties.
“It is important to note that MANY of the owners of residences, businesses, and properties along the corridors ARE NOT located on the corridors – they live and/or work elsewhere in the community, in Oregon, or another state — and they knew nothing of the MovingAhead plans until they received the petitions and plans in the mail,” wrote Meta Maxwell.
“These people provide necessary housing and jobs in our community,” she wrote. “Failing, from the beginning of the planning process, to engage and work with not only those living and working on the corridors, but also those who own the housing, businesses and properties, is inexcusable and could portend a fatal blow to new investment for homes and jobs in our community.”
The cover letter says Bus Rapid Transit systems operate mostly in large metropolitan areas in South America, Asia, and Africa, and are not appropriate for cities the size of Eugene.
The cover letter cites Benjamin Ross (“Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism“) in identifying the fossil fuel company Shell as a principal promoter of BRT.
The letter concludes by asking that the MovingAhead plans be scrapped. Instead, “employ a transportation professional who can be trusted to oversee the development of a holistic transportation plan for the city, taking into consideration the demographics, geography and advances in alternative technologies that shape our future, and who, from the beginning, will engage those who will be most affected.”
Election results will be posted on lanecounty.org/elections on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 8 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 9, 5 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 16, 5 p.m.; Wednesday, Sept. 28, 5 p.m.; and Monday, Oct. 3, 5 p.m.