Monday, February 1, 2010

More Open to Business Soon

Eugene may soon be more open to business than in the past......

On January 28th as most of you know the City Council unanimously voted to direct the City Manager Jon Ruiz to enact six short term proposals and to seek funding for six additional long term proposals to help in reducing the crime problem in downtown that has existed for years and to clean up the downtown. A couple of notables about these actions include the fact that the Council and Mayor unanimously demonstrated support to clean up downtown and that they approved some "baby step" actions to help with a long established problem in the downtown area. The recommended short term and long termed action items include the following:

Recommended crime fighting short term ideas:

1. Better coordination with Downtown Eugene Inc.'s red-capped guides, private security firms and parole and probation officers.

2. Develop downtown ordinance to restrict sale of cheap beverages with high alcohol content.

3. Expand use of video cameras to prevent vandalism and other crimes. Cost: $100,000.

4. Develop downtown proposal to assess fees on vacant buildings; include more properties in business improvement district.

5. Review exclusion zone ordinance for possible changes.

6. Downtown work crews for offenders. Cost: $28,000.

Possible long-term ideas:

1. Collaborative public-private approach for downtown security. Cost: $100,000.

2. Hire nine officers to work downtown. Cost: $1.2 million.

3. Add 10 jail beds to house downtown offenders. Cost: $420,000.

4. Develop overnight facility for alcohol/drug abusers. Cost: To be determined.

5. Add lighting. Cost: $100,000.

6. Improve response for people with mental health problems. Cost: $325,000.

We all acknowledge that this has been a very long time in coming but are pleased to see some action on the part of our elected officials and now turning it over to the paid staff to implement. As one resident said," It is about time." We are all excited to see results from the implementation of the short term and eventually the long term solutions identified by Chief of Police Pete Kern's task force. It is nice to see that the studying is over and action can now begin. One resident stated: "They didn't take the handcuffs off the police totally but they gave them the indication that they can do their job."

There is a word of caution however. In order for short term and long term action items to be successful they need to be specific in nature so all understand what is expected and required, they must be date specific (in other words have a specific date when they are to be accomplished), and they must have a measurable result to determine if the action has been successful. The action items did not posses these important items so we can only hope that the Council will review those in their February 10, 2010, work session on public safety to be held at noon on Feb. 10th at the McNutt Room. Time will tell. Until then EugeneAdvocates would like to thank the City Council, the Mayor, the City Manager, the Police Chief, and the Planning Director for taking these courageous steps to help clean up Downtown Eugene. There remain many other non-budget impacting solutions that can be enacted without the Council but this is a "baby step" forward and we will all take it.

EugeneAdvocates for a Clean City