December 7, 2022

Whole Community News

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ENI to host discussion on public engagement

3 min read
Eugene City Councilor Randy Groves and LTD Board Member Pete Knox will discuss public engagement at the annual ENI meeting Thursday, Sept. 29.

Eugene Neighborhoods Inc. will meet in person Thursday, where Councilor Randy Groves and LTD Board Member Pete Knox will talk about public engagement. For ENI, Randy Prince:

[00:00:11] Randy Prince: ENI is Eugene Neighborhoods Incorporated. We’re about 20 some years old and we’ve got the back of neighborhood organizations for financing and to connect with other neighborhood associations on important issues.

[00:00:26] This year we thought we’d take a look at a really important topic: How does the city and other jurisdictions operate those public engagement processes? They’re usually staffers who set them up, sometimes consultants and city officials, elected officials may or may not be involved.

[00:00:45] But we wanted to look at: What is good public engagement that comes out with a result that they know reflects what’s in the community?

[00:00:53] And this year, as an example, the Lane Transit District, it emerged that the public engagement process they had to diligently followed out—whatever was in their plans was done—just did not match up to what people in the community were thinking about the projects in mind and whether they had been consulted.

[00:01:15] It may have looked good from the staffer’s desk, how many dozens or hundreds of people were contacted in some way. But for the people actually involved as the backlash indicated—the recall of a councilor—they didn’t feel engaged. They didn’t feel like they were a part of the decision.

[00:01:34] So we wanted to have a discussion this year with a program for people to think about: Is our public engagement in the city of Eugene adequate? Does it reflect what people want to know?

[00:01:46] And recent controversies: There were the middle housing amendments, a really big change about how much the city would go with state recommendations, or in this case, exceed them to upzone properties. It kind of changed the landscape of Eugene.

[00:02:02] Was that a public engagement process that was up to standards? Well, a lot of people said no, that there weren’t the kind of hearings and study. Of course, the state of Oregon put a deadline on how long that could go.

[00:02:16] Councilor Groves has seen the culture of government in Eugene and Springfield, which came out with some different results on middle housing and upzoning. He will reflect on what he’s seen about how well the council decisions align with what popular sentiments are.

[00:02:37] We in ENI are supporting neighbors, neighborhood associations in making sure that their voice is heard and that it’s followed the public sentiments. It is really a key to getting past the hard feelings that have come up just this month with the recall of a city councilor and continuing controversies over the middle housing, upselling, a really important set of legal changes, and of course the MovingAhead. That’s a lot of money spent there on that to make changes. Will it turn out to enhance transit or not? We don’t know, but the public really is feeling that they’re not kept in the loop, and we want to see what we can do, what we should know to change that.

[00:03:27] John Q: Councilor Groves and Board Member Knox will join ENI Thursday Sept. 29 at Roaring Rapids Pizza, 4006 Franklin Blvd. Register from 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and participate in the meeting from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

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