SW-SAZ Zone Change

SW-SAZ — South Willamette Special Area Zone — Proposed zone and plan changes

Click here to read the 18 recommendations of the Envision Eugene “Multi-Use (Re)Development” Committee.
Read the full “MUD” Committee Report here.

Click here to read the “Citizens’ Guide to Opportunity Siting.”

Heads Up! Read about the mayor’s attempt at an end-run around Envision Eugene.
Guest Viewpoint in June 20, 2016 The Register-Guard


Click here to view a video of the presentation.
Click here to view the “Demystifying Refinement Plan” presentation slides.
Click here to browse the “Frequently Asked Questions” about refinement plans.
Click here to read a draft of “Principles of Participation” for members of a Planning Team.
Click here to read the adopted governance documents of the Eugene Infill Compatibility Standards Task Team, including the “Organizational Structure and Rules,” which provide a potential starting for a similar document for a Planning Team.
Westside Neighborhood Plan (a “neighborhood refinement plan”).
City website page with links to all refinement plans.

Staff proposes extreme increases in allowed density! Staff have been duplicitous in trying to convince residents and City Council that there won’t be any increases in the proposed “Single Family Options” zone. That in itself is a lie about the SFO zone, which would allow increased density of 20% by not counting Secondary Dwelling Units (SDUs), and up to triple the density with “courtyard housing.” What’s even more deceitful is that over 150 R-1 lots would be upzoned to AC (apartments), AC/RC (rowhouses) or SFO/RA (rowhouses). The proposed zoning would allow two-and-a-half times as many dwellings than the current R-1 zoning! Click here to see the statistics, as well as the radical changes in allowable building heights.

“We know best” zealots push for unwanted upzoning and poorly-planned densification! Click here to read a recent “Guest Viewpoint” in The Register-Guard that explains why this effort to force rezoning is wrong-headed.

Great Read! Learn what nationally-recognized “walkability expert” has to say about improving walkability in auto-oriented areas like south Willamette Street.
Click here to read the excerpt “Step 10: Pick Your Winners.”

Update. Four city-chartered neighborhood organizations have approved a letter that was sent to the Eugene City Council regarding future planning for the area around south Willamette Street.
Click here to read the letter.

Update. The Eugene Mayor and City Manager had requested that Oregon Consensus conduct an “assessment” of the potential for a “facilitated” process to deal with planning in the south Willamette Street area. The documents referenced in the next two lines provide information on what this “assessment” entails.

Click here to read the requests for information e-mailed to Oregon Consensus and their responses.
Click here to read the Oregon Consensus memo providing an overview of their “assessment” plans.
Click here to read the Oregon Consensus “Summary Report” of their assessment.
Click here to read a critique of the Oregon Consensus assessment.

After receiving the Oregon Consensus memo, the Co-Chair of the Council of South Eugene Neighborhoods (CSEN) sent the letter, referenced above, to Oregon Consensus in response. The letter states:

“We do not support initiating a facilitation process before residents, business owners, and property owners within and around the South Willamette area have had the opportunity to develop a community proposal for goals, objectives and implementation recommendations.”


View the Powerpoint presentation slides.

Watch the “People not Buildings” video. (13:34)

See the materials below. (Please note that some of the presentations include the same images.) A video of the presentation should be available next week. To contact me directly, please e-mail me at: paul.t.conte@gmail.com .

Westside Neighborhood Plan (a “neighborhood refinement plan”)
JWN “Plan Jam” First (of two) workshops.
Maps used in Plan Jam
The JWN assessment of “Neighborhood Character”
The JWN assessment of “Negative Impacts”
Presentation to the Eugene Planning Commission
Guide to the Jefferson-Westside Special Area Zone

Please visit http://communitysupportedshelters.org/ to learn more and contribute.


MIND-BLOWING IMAGES!  Click here to view a model of the scale of commercial building that could be developed on Willamette Street at 26th Avenue under SW-SAZ.
Click here to see the site plan and specification of the model.

HOT NEW INFO!  Click here to browse the “Frequently Asked Questions” about refinement plans.

Flash!  Guest Viewpoint “Elitist rezoning plan receives a jolt” in The Register-Guard (November 1, 2015) analyzes

The Register-Guard publishes support for a different approach to planning for the South Willamette area:  “Seek Balance in Planning“, November 3, 2015.

City Council has been considering a staff proposal to radically transform the residential neighborhoods and commercial areas around south Willamette Street. (But see recent developments below!)

City Planning Division staff have been consistently pushing to have City Council approve the proposal so that the same approach can be applied to other residential neighborhoods and commercial areas throughout the city, including:

South Willamette Street

Coburg Road

River Road

West 6th and 7th Avenues

Highway 99

West 11th Avenue

Council steps back from October 21 protection for R-1 properties. At their November 9, 2015 work session, the City Council adopted a motion by Councilor Greg Evans by a split vote (4-4 with Mayor Piercy voting in favor). Evans’ motion suspended the strong protections that had been adopted by council on October 21 (see below). Instead, the motion delayed the public hearing on SW-SAZ until a “facilitated discussion” was help between the City and effected residents and businesses. Click here to read a clear description of the effects of City Council’s action.

Good news!  At the October 21 Council work session, Councilor Mike Clark proposed and the City Council adopted the following motion:

Direct the city manager to:
1)    Reschedule the public hearing on the South Willamette Special Area Zone to January 19, 2016.
2)    Engage the affected neighbors and property owners and bring back revised zoning and plan amendments for public hearing on January 19th that will accomplish the following:

a) Does not change the plan designation or rezone any property currently zoned R-1 or immediately adjacent to a property zoned R-1, unless none of the adjacent properties have an existing single-family home or duplex and the owner agrees to the rezoning.
b) Ensures that use and development standards for all properties that are not zoned R-1 will protect R-1 property residents’ livability, including:

i) Protecting residents’ visual privacy in their homes and backyards, especially from significant intrusion from occupants of structures that are two or more stories; and
ii) Protecting residents from significant negative impacts from structures that block solar access or reasonable sight lines; and
iii)   Protecting residents from significant negative impacts arising from vehicle use and loading.

3)    Follow the direction above with respect to all future planning and proposals for the new comprehensive plan, code and plan amendments (previously identified by staff) on transit corridors that may impact R-1 properties.”

(Voting in favor of the motion: Mike Clark, George Brown, Greg Evans, Betty Taylor and George Poling. Voting against the motion: Alan Zelenka, Chris Pryor and Claire Syrett.)

Click this link: Understanding the Council’s R-1 decision to read a clear explanation of what this motion does.

Update: At City Council’s October 26, 2015 work session, the council moved the public hearing date to March 14, 2016.

Read a local expert opinion: “Revise proposed zoning change” , by Mark Gillem in The Register-Guard, October 18, 2015.  Mark Gillem is a highly-respected professor of architecture and landscape architecture at the University of Oregon with wide experience in urban design.

Read now: Sustainability Commission goes off the deep-end with a ranting statement submitted to City Council.


  1. Other than exceptional cases (and South Willamette is in no way an exception), it’s unethical to rezone a residential neighborhood to allow significantly more intensive development when the neighborhood community clearly opposes such upzoning. (See  “Zoning and the Neighborhood Commons”.)
  2. The so-called “community engagement” was actually nothing more than a charade, with city planning staff trying to “sell” their own “vision” for the South Willamette area. Click here to read a first-hand account from one of the SW-SAZ area home owners who tried to make a constructive contribution but became disillusioned with the process.
  3. The proposal to reduce minimum lot sizes in the Single-Family Options (SFO) zone would be illegal because this change would allow density to exceed the upper density limit for the Low Density Residential designation in the Eugene-Springfield Metro Plan.
  4. The “MU” (Multi-Use) zone that would replace most of the current C-2 (commercial) zone would allow much greater building height close to single-family homes and backyards. Current C-2 code limits building height to 30 feet anywhere 50 feet or closer to an R-1 property line. MU would allow a 65-foot or higher wall as close as 30 feet. This would create enormous negative impacts on single-family homeowners’ privacy, sunlight/solar access and sight lines.
  5. The so-called “Design Review” provisions are nothing like a legitimate design review process (such as Portland has) that allows a committee of stakeholders and professionals to permit limited tweaks to designs that don’t comply with the development standards. Instead, the SW-SAZ “Design Review” allows a single City staff person (the Planning Director) to virtually waive density, height, setback and other critical standards. The only recourse for an impacted homeowner would be am expensive legal appeal that would be hard to win, based on the code language.
  6. SW-SAZ would allow rowhouses two lots deep off the north side of W. 29th Ave. Currently, these lots have modest, one-story, single-family homes and duplexes.  The rowhouses could be 45 feet tall, thus casting a shadow over 100 feet north across single-family homes and backyards.
  7. The parking regulations would allow as few as 1 parking space for 4 three-bedroom apartments. This insufficient requirement is based on the theory that people who live in a “20-minute neighborhood” will drive less. However, the reality is that even people who drive less will still own cars and need some place to park them.
  8. The City is currently breaking the law by allowing R-3 High Density Residential development on land that is designated Low Density Residential in the Metro Plan. Take a look at this diagram of plan designation versus zoning.
  9. There are no sustainability standards for mixed-use (MU) or apartment/condo (AC) zones, and the “pick any one” standard for “single-family options” (SFO) is insignificant. A zoning proposal as sweeping as the SW-SAZ should have thoroughly-researched and vetted sustainability standards across all housing types. There are plenty of third-party certifications (e.g., Earth Advantage) that could be referenced for starters.
  10. The Mixed-Use parking standards would allow as little as one parking space for approximately every 10 office workers. This is likely to create a huge volume of on-street and/or illegal parking in some of the nearby residential and small retail business areas.


South Willamette Neighbors website. This is a non-profit organization formed to protect their residential neighborhoods from being radically changed by the proposed rezoning to SW-SAZ.

Council of South Eugene Neighborhoods. This is a council of four city-chartered neighborhood organizations: Friendly Area Neighbors, Soutwest Hills Neighborhood Association, Southeast Neighbors and Amazon Neighborhood Association. They’ve taken up planning for the area around south Willamette Street as an issue of common concern.

Map that shows how R-1 lots (low-density, single-family) would be rezoned for higher density and incompatible building types.

City of Eugene SW-SAZ website.

“Envision Eugene” affordable housing and neighborhood livability pillars. Annotated with respect to the problems of the proposed SW-SAZ.

And exceptional essay on the ethical issues of rezoning wide swaths of single-family neighborhoods: “Zoning and the Neighborhood Commons”
(Click this link: Zoning: A Reply to Critics for the full article and all the citations.)

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