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Seven Appointed By One
“Instead of Envision Eugene the way that it isn’t, I think we should enjoy Eugene the way that it is.” 
- Scott Rohter

Appreciate Eugene
by Scott Rohter, April 2012

Instead of Envision Eugene which is our City’s long range plan for the future, I think our community needs another plan to appreciate our little City just the way that it is. I think we need a different plan for the future. I will call it “Appreciate Eugene.” Instead of envisioning Eugene the way that it isn’t, I think we should learn to appreciate Eugene just the way that it is! I would like people living here to know what a wonderful place Eugene already is. I would like them to realize just how much better Eugene is than most other places in the country. We should all love our little City just the way that it is, instead of trying to change it. Instead of trying to turn this beautiful little swan into some sort of an ugly duckling just in order to be like everybody else, or just in order to be politically correct, or literally trying to re-invent the wheel with the EmX, we should all just stop trying to envision it, change it, or re-invent it!  After all something that is already this good hardly needs to be re-invented, does it? And there is an old adage that says, “If something isn’t broken then you shouldn’t try to fix it.“

Eugene’s Mayor and the City Council should stop trying to follow somebody else’s footsteps by using somebody else’s pre-fabricated model that was designed somewhere else, by someone else, and for some other place! There are just way too many cooks in the kitchen right now, trying to prepare the future for Eugene, and they are starting to spoil both the future and the present! Who are these "cooks" that are spoiling our present and our future? They are the land planners in the City and County Planning and Development Departments, and the elected or appointed members that serve on the various Planning Commissions. 

In Eugene there are about fifteen to twenty of these meddlesome individuals, who are all mapping out our City’s future in the most infinite detail. These pencil necked geeks are all headed up by one central Planning Director who reports to an interim executive Planning and Development Director, Sara Medary.  She is also the assistant City Manager and she reports directly to Jon Ruiz who is the City Manager. He answers to the Eugene City Council. Most of these meddlesome planners are busy trying to accommodate and direct all of the development that they can, by mapping out areas around the City that they have targeted for future growth, based upon who is or who is not in political favor at the moment. There is no choice but for our City to grow of course! There will be more on that shortly.

These Planners were responsible for the illegal attempts by the City of Eugene in the 1990s to force people living outside of the City limits to hook up to the Eugene Municipal Sewer System. Along with the Eugene City Council they are the ones who were responsible for re-writing local ordinances against the advice of their own legal counsel, in order to compel non-City residents to comply with their devious plans for annexation and urban development, and to illegally force them to pay a $5000 sewer assessment. They were also behind the foreclosure and the forced sale of the Neely house on Horn Lane for the exact amount of the sewer lien, just $7,411. See my articles: Property Rights Come Under Attack in Oregon by State Constitution, and Oregon House Bill 4111 Reform Bill Passes Legislature.

In a 1998 landmark decision called the City of Eugene v. Nalven, the Oregon Appeals Court ruled that the City of Eugene had no authority to order anybody living outside of the City limits to hook up to the Eugene Municipal Sewer System, nor to pay the $5000 sewer assessment. Eugene twice appealed that decision to the Oregon Supreme Court, and it was twice denied, so the Appellate Court decision stands.

In 2012, a piece of legislation that I wrote back in 1995 when the City of Eugene expropriated the Neely house, finally passed the Oregon Legislature and was signed into law. The vote was unanimous!

But in 2010, another group of land planners from Eugene and Lane County were again responsible for another egregious attempt to confiscate private property! There was a county-wide attempt to take a 200 foot strip of land away from any property owner in Lane County who owned land that had a creek or a pond, or even a drainage ditch on it. This was the rather famous or infamous Lane County Overlay Map with its 200 foot setback proposal. Eugene and Lane County land planners dreamed this up and collaborated on it in conjunction with EWEB, the State Land Use Board, and the United Nations Agenda 21 Goals. Luckily for property owners however, the proposal was tabled when over five hundred angry Lane County property owners showed up for a meeting of the Lane County Board of Commissioners.

Today there is another ongoing battle that is occurring between the City of Eugene, its land planners and LTD on the one side, and the good citizens and property owners of West Eugene on the other side who don’t want the Eugene EmX running down 6th and 7th Streets, or on West 11th Avenue.They have not been allowed to vote on this very important issue, but they have been forced to spend over $100,000 of their own money while trying to get their voices heard by policy makers. The Eugene City Council, The Metropolitan Policy Committee, and Lane Transit District all continue to ostensibly ignore them!

Finally there is another growth related encroachment issue also on the table now for Eugene and its rural Lane County neighbors. It is the addition of about one-hundred acres of land in West Eugene that is now scheduled for residential development (i.e. sidewalks, curbs, streetlights, sewers, subdivisions, and tract homes) along with about four-hundred acres of land zoned commercial in Northwest Eugene which is slated for commercial development.

The land that is slated for commercial development will provide more jobs in West Eugene for all of the new people who will soon be moving into the new housing in West Eugene! This is perhaps another reason why the City wants to build the West Eugene EmX project. The urban development juggernaut just keeps on going...

Why Does The Urban Development Juggernaut Keep Going?

The fundamental question which is even more basic than what kind of development we will have, or where and when it will occur is, “Do we have to grow?” and if we have to grow, then who is telling us that we have to grow? Do local communities have any say in whether they grow or not? Is there anything that local communities can do to preserve their rural lifestyle and small town character? Can we just say no to growth, or even yes if we chose, but if not, then why not?

“The only thing that keeps growing forever is cancer.”  - Scott Rohter


Most living organisms reach a certain optimum size, height, and weight, and at that point they just stop growing. They transition to just sustaining and replenishing themselves. Otherwise people and animals would grow to be much bigger than are. People and animals would be hundreds of feet tall and weigh thousands of pounds. This principle of optimum size and development should also hold true for vibrant, healthy cities and economies as well.

There is no physical law or scientific rationale that maintains that in order for cities or economies to remain healthy, they most deep growing! At a certain point in their development everything transitions from growing, to just sustaining and replenishing themselves. The only thing that keeps on growing forever is a cancer. I believe that the people of every local community or market place should have the primary role in determining when that time comes. But that is not how the system currently works in Oregon. It is a one size fits all, top down approach handed down from Salem! The sacred cow in Oregon is Senate Bill 100. This Law governs how all of our land use decisions are made! Local control over land use goes against the basic concept of Senate Bill 100.

I am told that my community doesn’t have any choice in determining whether we grow or not! That decision is made for us, by Salem. We must grow! We do not have the primary voice in determining our own future. We don’t really have a local voice at all when it comes to land use decisions that affect our community. That is because of The Seven Appointed by The One. I am not making some obscure reference to the movie, The Matrix. Instead I am referring to the seven members of the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) who are appointed by the Governor. They each serve terms of four years and they can be dismissed at any time without cause by the Governor. So basically one man, usually a Democrat is in control of all of the land use decisions in Oregon. Does that seem like a good system to put that much power and control in the hands of one individual?

The “LCDC Seven” interpret the law pretty much the way that the Governor wants them to. If they don’t, they are history! They interpret the laws regarding the use of land, and they set the policies for land use in Oregon. There is virtually no appeal of their decisions to another venue or another jurisdiction, and the chances for success of any appeal is virtually zero, because the legislature has given the LCDC basically unlimited authority over all land use decisions in Oregon. They require that every city in Oregon must maintain a twenty year supply of available land for development, and each city must implement that requirement… Therefore they must continue to grow because they are required to provide the necessary land for this new development. If you build it they will come!

So every city in Oregon  is ordered by the seven supreme members of the Land Conservation and Development Commission (chosen by the Governor) to make all of the necessary improvements to accommodate new development in their community.  And when all of the new people start coming, the results are always the same. We lose the rural character of our small communities. Increasing population brings crime, congestion, the need for more industry, more traffic, more pollution, higher prices, and a lower quality of life for everybody. More crime brings more cops, more laws, more jails, and all of this means less freedom for everybody. I don’t want to see that happen here. I am aware of many communities that have followed this unfortunate model of over-development much to their own detriment, and I don’t want to see that happen here in Eugene. We just need to stop growing!

"The truth, the political truth, and nothing but the political truth.
A journalist has no better friend than the truth."
- Scott Rohter

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