Staff misleads property owners on R-1 Code Amendments
It appears City Planning staff haven’t given up on their attempt to undermine and weaken the draft ordinance that a majority of councilors directed staff to bring to the public hearing. Here are some examples of staff’s latest misinformation campaign …
- A notice with RED, ALL CAPS, BOLD LETTERING was sent to selected property owners warning them that the proposed amendments “would prohibit the construction of a secondary dwelling on your lot” and “this regulation may change the value of your property.” This notice was apparently received by property owners who would not be affected by the amendments because their respective lots are large enough to legally have a secondary dwelling unit.
- Staff broadcast an e-mail on June 12 that stated: “the amendments would … [n]ot allow for the creation of new alley access lots.” This is a blatantly false statement — there is no code amendment regarding the creation of new alley access lots. Currently, only the two special area zones in the Jefferson Westside Neighbors area allow creation of new alley access lots. The R-1 Zone does not, and hasn’t for many years. Staff seems to be trying to create the false impression that this is a new restriction in the amendments, when the facts are black-and-white that such as statement is a fabrication.
- In the same broadcast e-mail, staff appears to “tar” the proposed standards by equating them with the Interim Protection Measures that City Council adopted for several areas around the University of Oregon. The e-mail warns that the amendments would:
- “Establish a maximum building height/interior yard sloped setback for secondary dwellings and for dwellings on existing alley access lots identical to those adopted as part of the University Area Interim Protection Measures.“
- “Establish a maximum building height of 25 feet for all accessory buildings, and change the interior yard sloped setback to be identical to that adopted as part of the University Area Interim Protection Measures.”
This language provides no useful information and serves only to cast a negative light on the proposed standards. The truth is that the standards proposed by neighborhood leaders allow a great deal of flexibility for SDUs and accessory buildings, while preventing “looming” walls adjacent to neighboring backyards.
- Staff has posted on the City website a biased and misleading comparison between their proposal (that the Planning Commission rubber-stamped) and the recommendations from neighborhood leaders. For example, regarding the lot size requirement for SDUs, the staff claims that the Planning Commission recommendation “Continue[s] current practice, supported by the Metro Plan, of not counting SDUs when calculating density.” Again, this is blatantly false. The current practice conflicts directly with the Metro Plan density limit of 14.28 dwelling units per net acre for “Low Density Residential” areas. Staff attempted to mislead the City Council on this, but the council majority didn’t buy it. But staff is still shopping that misinformation to the unwary public.
It bears noting that the “Notice” sent out by staff is unprecedented in its inflammatory nature. When staff proposed allowing the creation of new alley access lots, they didn’t send “warning” notices to the owners of properties adjacent to the lots that would be able to be split. Allowing new alley access lots without appropriate limits on size and setbacks would diminish the adjacent residents’ livability and property values. No … all the public information regarding the flawed staff proposals simply touted the claimed benefits of “increased flexibility” and “preventing sprawl.”
Don’t let staff get away with inflaming your neighborhood’s single-family property owners into opposing these amendments. The new standards supported by neighborhood leaders would be of tremendous benefit in helping to implement the “Envision Eugene” promise to “Protect, Repair and Enhance Neighborhood Livability.” All neighborhood residents and property owners, as well as our overall community would benefit.