November 29, 2022

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Santa Clara residents say EmX is not their locally preferred alternative

8 min read
The Santa Clara community tries to stop an unpopular, expensive, and environmentally-destructive transit project.

LTD and city staff hear that EmX is definitely not the locally preferred alternative in Santa Clara. At the first community meeting after the historic recall election, several asked that EmX go to a vote of the people.

[00:00:14] John: This is called MovingAhead. When you look at it, basically it’s MovingBackwards. (Yeah.). Because the road out here that’s there now that was built with four lanes, that used to be a two-lane highway to Portland (mm-hmm), it basically functions very well in moving the people. And what you’re proposing is going backwards…Table what you’re doing, start over from scratch and get the community involved. (Yes.)

[00:00:37] The plan that was put forward in my estimation is totally ill-conceived, and I don’t know what they were thinking…You need to table this. Don’t spend any more money. Once you figure out what you want to do, you need to put it to the vote of the people.

[00:00:52] Natalie Crowder: We need to have a say in this, one way or another, whether it’s a vote, but we need to have a major say in it. I think the say was for recalling (City Council President) Claire (Syrett) ‘cause she didn’t listen to us. That was one say. And we’re going to continue saying and we’re going to speak louder.

[00:01:11] Jerry: Is there going to be a Yes / No vote at all? Or is this, ‘We’re going forward,’ it’s just how are we going.

[00:01:17] Santa Clara resident: When you come back with your new plan and you say you’re going to come back to the community, do we then get a vote on it?

[00:01:24] John Q: The community tries to stop an unpopular, expensive, and environmentally-destructive transit project.

[00:01:30] Santa Clara Resident: ‘We’re proposing to take out one lane going in each direction of River Road. We’re proposing to cut down 132 trees. We’re proposing to lay two more acres of asphalt or cement.’ Those are controversial things. Things that people obviously do not like.

[00:01:49] John Q: Most people didn’t learn about River Road EmX plans until local activists went door to door.

[00:01:56] Mark Osterloh: I personally went up and down each one of those five corridors. I went door to door to people that lived on the corridor—they had a house—and the businesses. 95% of the people didn’t know anything about these plans when I talked to them. The 5% that did said, ‘Oh yeah, I think I got a postcard.’ I only met one person who had any of your (LTD) people come over to talk to her. She said two people came over to me and they said, ‘Oh, these are the plans and don’t stand in the way of the flow.’

[00:02:26] John Q: Although EmX works great at the University, the other EmX lines have underperformed.

[00:02:32] Rich: The EmX on Gateway was using less than 10% of its capacity, and ridership was 60% less than projected. And the West 11th EmX line fell short by 57%… None of your projections seem to be working out, and now you’re wanting to spend, this would be 150 million or 175 million over the 20-year period.

[00:02:56] And when you look at these buses that you guys run, our EmX buses, they’re diesel. (Yes.) They’re big diesel vehicles that when you look at what they do to the environment, we want to get people walking, we want to get ’em riding their bikes. We don’t want to get ’em riding in big buses that are diesel.

[00:03:14] And then in order to run these buses, you’re going to pave it with concrete, which is not the best material to be using for our serious problems with climate change.

[00:03:24] An additional 188,300 square foot of concrete paving that will be draining 660,000 cubic feet— which is 5 million gallons of water—into Spring Creek. And what are you going to do when everybody has flooding problems?

[00:03:41] John Q: Despite the recall, the staff has no choice but to continue to design EmX for River Road. From LTD, Patrick Walsh.

[00:03:49] Patrick Walsh (LTD): Back in the spring, the city council and the LTD board of directors gave the staff an instruction to go out and continue to research and do more planning regarding what was considered at that time the local preferred alternative, EmX on River Road. So that’s what the staff is doing, and we’re still following the path that was set by the LTD board of directors and the city council.

[00:04:13] John Q: What about those suggestions of putting it to a vote? Pat Walsh.

[00:04:17] Patrick Walsh (LTD): Yeah. I don’t know if you’re going to get a vote on that, but you’re going to get a say in it, that’s for sure. You know, out here there’s going to be four lanes.

[00:04:25] Santa Clara resident: No, there is, but, but (crosstalk) there won’t be.

[00:04:29] Patrick Walsh (LTD): Well, yeah, so, so you’re right. Well, well, it’s not that there will be, we don’t know if there will be or not, but that’s what’s in the plan. You’re correct.

[00:04:35] Santa Clara resident: So we get an opportunity to change that plan.

[00:04:37] Patrick Walsh (LTD): I don’t know about change it, but inform it. (Laughter) Okay. He doesn’t like that—

[00:04:43] John Q: One resident said it looked like a done deal, because councilors ignored them.

[00:04:48] Rich: In Ward 7, the input was given to the councilor and she said there was no opposition that she had heard of. And that wasn’t true because at that time there were over 400 people there that were opposed to it and it was in writing.

[00:05:02] And I know that at the time of the recall, over 800 people filed opposition documents that they’re opposed to it. Yet you’re saying you’re still on track for what you want to do, because the board wants to do it and the city councilors want to do it.

[00:05:19] The way I see it, it was going to be EmX all the time, and this is a kind of a veiled attempt to make it look like the community is involved. Just like you’re asked if we get to vote, the answer was ‘Yes, but no. Well, you won’t get to vote.’

[00:05:34] It sounds like their board and the city councilors made a decision regardless of what the people in the community are thinking.

[00:05:42] John Q: Local residents say they don’t see anyone riding the bus today. Here’s Jerry, Natalie, Doug, and Patty.

[00:05:48] Jerry: My name’s Jerry. I was born in the community. I drive all the time. I look in your buses, there’s nobody on the buses. So as far as I can see, when I look on the buses, I see on average a person to two persons on the 51 and 52. What are we servicing? We’re servicing an extra person on an already empty bus?

[00:06:05] Santa Clara resident: Well, what do you think about the traffic that’s coming up? There’s going to be a development on the Kempf property. (Yeah.). There’s going to be infill. The urban growth boundary is probably going to move, which is going to create more traffic. I just don’t see a need for the EmX.

[00:06:22] Natalie Crowder: For the past 10 years, ridership on LTD has decreased by 29%. Since 2012, it’s decreased. So how can we spend $100 million to put a bus out there that’s going to take lanes away from our community to ride three people or six people maybe by the time it gets downtown. (Yes) That does not warrant an EmX.

[00:06:48] Doug: I stood down on the corner when we were handling the Claire Syrett recall for two hours and watched your buses go by with a maximum of three people…Everybody who wants to use the bus, give them a Visa card, let them buy an Uber, contribute to the economy, pay taxes, and forget this nonsense.

[00:07:08] Patty: I’ve lived in this neighborhood 45 years… I ride my bike here, but I cannot take my mother who is 100 years old on the back of my bike, nor can I take her onto the bus. I have a car to take her. My neighbor has three kids. They are not going to walk down Irving to River Road and catch a bus to go do their errands. So what I have felt is that we’re being forced to give up our cars. That’s the bottom line.

[00:07:37] John Q: LTD’s hub and spoke system doesn’t work for Santa Clara.

[00:07:41] Karen: I’m Karen and we’ve lived out here for over 30 years. I would ride the bus from South Eugene to Springfield. I’d go downtown, I’d transfer to Springfield, and then I’d get on at night and sit down in Eugene to get home. As winter came, my dad was concerned that I sitting downtown at night, so I got a car because he didn’t want me sitting downtown riding the bus. And I don’t know if things have changed. Is it any more efficient? Does it get people where you want to go?

[00:08:15] I do have a friend, she’d get on the bus here, go downtown Eugene and go to Costco. And then at night she’d get off at 8:00 at night. She wouldn’t get home till 10 at night, ‘cause it took her that long to go from Costco to Eugene to out here. And then she got to walk through the neighborhood to get to her house.

[00:08:35] John Q: LTD staff encouraged the citizens to keep participating.

[00:08:40] Patrick Walsh (LTD): Caitlin Vargas is our representative for this (we call it a) subdistrict, for Santa Clara and Bethel. So Caitlin Vargas is one place to have your voice heard. Come to an LTD meeting or a city council meeting and express your opinion.

[00:08:55] John Q: Caitlin Vargas will be leaving the LTD board at the end of the year, and the incoming appointee is Lawrence Green. Contact Lawrence and LTD’s new general manager, Jameson Auten. At the city, contact Councilor Greg Evans, who has previously served on the LTD board, and was just named president of the city council.

[00:09:14] And at the Santa Clara meeting, there was talk of another idea — one recommended by Peter DeFazio.

[00:09:21] Doug: It’s kind of been glossed over: This LTD board is unelected. It is appointed by the governor, and I personally do not believe they have much, if any, accountability to us. (Absolutely.) Work on getting that board elected.

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