Eugene won an award for public engagement on middle-income housing

Eugene received an Excellence in Community Engagement Award for the process used by city staff and officials to craft amendments to the middle housing code.

The city used a “community-driven process” to develop local rules to comply with the 2001 House Bill, according to the Oregon Department of Conservation and Land Development’s Citizen Involvement Advisory Committee. The law, passed in the 2019 session, requires major cities to allow development of various types of housing such as duplexes and cottage complexes in historically exclusive single-family areas.

Eugene and two other local governments won awards for making “innovative use of resources, building partnerships across and throughout the community” as well as efforts to “intentionally engage historically marginalized and underserved communities.”

Although some community members expressed anger at the process, the city used several means to involve citizens in the code development process, including:

  • A partnership with Healthy Democracy, a non-profit organization based in Portland, to form a Planning Review Committee comprised of 29 community members representative of local demographics and randomly selected by lottery. This group met more than a dozen times and produced a list of guiding principles, two sets of code recommendations, and suggestions for future public engagement efforts.
  • A roundtable that provided an equity lens for the project
  • Another roundtable including groups like Better Housing Together, the local Chamber of Commerce, 1000 Friends of Oregon and others to provide a community stakeholder perspective
  • A third roundtable of representatives from various councils and commissions to provide a citywide policy perspective
  • Two focus groups to get feedback on questions regarding development feasibility and code changes
  • An online survey and social media
  • A story map to engage young people
  • Information sessions for the public
  • Printable materials to allow people to organize their own meetings

Previous cover:Eugene officials unanimously pass interim housing rules after months of community feedback

Eugene and the other two recipients “have made great strides in establishing best practices and creating a set of local guidelines that Oregon communities across the state can emulate,” said Leah Rausch, who chairs the committee that selected the winners.

The city is “really proud” of the work on the project and “happy that we were able to use inclusive and innovative public engagement tools,” said Lindsay Selser, spokesperson for Eugene’s planning and development department.

Selser said the review board was the first of its kind used for a planning project in the state and possibly the first in the country.

She also referenced the award nomination letter, in which Mayor Lucy Vinis described the community engagement plan as “innovative, bringing new methods but building on existing relationships and strategies rather than building on them.” replace”.

Vinis wrote that the plan focused on raising the voices of people who normally don’t speak out on public policy.

“The (staff) outreach set the context, explained local government procedures and provided background information to enable those without prior experience to fully participate,” Vinis wrote.

She added the defined process “a new bar”.

Jose Melendez, who served on the review panel, also contributed to the award nomination. Melendez wrote that the process “is worth celebrating for encouraging other jurisdictions to take such an innovative approach that requires a commitment of resources and as such shows where their values ​​lie.”

Contact city government watchdog Megan Banta at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @MeganBanta_1.