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Eugene EmX – Rapid Transit Fetish
Response to an April 29th Register Guard Editorial by Larry Reed
by Scott Rohter, May 2012

“Since when do we have a government body that is not elected by the people that is making plans for our future and has the power to influence public policy decisions without our consent.” – Jim Seaberry, referring to the Metropolitan Policy Committee and the Lane Council of Governments.

“Sometime later this year the Eugene City Council will be asked to reaffirm its previous vote in support of the west Eugene EmX.”  So writes Larry Reed, who is the former zoning administrator for the City of Eugene. Mr. Reed now works in the private sector as an “urban planner.” However his statement is not really true. A City Council vote is not a rubber stamp! The Eugene City Council is not being asked to “reaffirm” anything. Actually it is being asked to take a new look at the EmX in June with a fresh set of eyes. It is being asked to re-evaluate the EmX in view of recent developments. That is a far cry from the official rubber stamp that Mr. Reed envisions. Part of the recent developments in the little saga of the designated lane bus is that there was a recent poll taken by Lane Transit District which turned up some pretty widespread apathy about rapid transit in general, and some pretty intense opposition to this specific project in particular!

I was hoping that the current races for Mayor and Eugene City Council would result in some attention being paid to the controversial issue of the west Eugene EmX, but if it has I am unaware of it. In hindsight I guess that is to be expected since there is such fierce opposition to it.  What progressive candidate running for Eugene City Council would venture to dip their liberal toes into those turbulent waters? And of course the progressive Mayor of Eugene who “owns the little bus project" is not likely to bring it up during her re-election race either!

Would you like to talk about the lasting implications of the upcoming vote on the EmX, on the future of our fair city? First of all, laying the groundwork and the infrastructure for future population growth will only cause many more thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of people to move here over the next fifty years. That is not exactly my idea of sustainable development for our little community. That sounds more like the same misguided ideas of urban planning, and the same cancerous patterns of growth that I have observed in other cities, that used to be livable like El Cajon, Escondido, or Poway California. “If you build it they will come.”

Every healthy living thing achieves a desirable size and then it stops growing. Then it re-focuses its energy and attention on sustaining itself, otherwise people and  animals would all grow to be much bigger than they really are. The same thing is true for a livable city. For all of the talk that the “Left” makes about sustainability, it is really only lip service that they are paying. A healthy population for a city like Eugene is around 150,000 people. We are already there. It is time to stop growing, and to start re‑focusing our ideas instead on sustaining our little community.

But if they keep building, then others will keep coming and bringing with them all of the associated problems of higher density and overpopulation. For the love of money, if LCDC and the City of Eugene did not intend to grow our fair City far beyond its current size and population then why did Sacred Heart invest so much money in a huge new campus at Riverbend to serve the needs of the community? Why did EWEB build a big new operations facility in west Eugene, which by the way is targeted for big new development projects? Why did EWEB and the Willamette Water Company each apply for massive amounts of more water from the McKenzie River? Willamette Water Company is actually applying for one-hundred times the amount of water that they are currently using! Why did the Oregon Department of Transportation construct two brand new interchanges along Interstate 5, one in Goshen just south of Eugene, and the other at Beltline just north and east of the city? Why?...To accommodate the new growth my dear ladies and gentlemen that is envisioned for Eugene. For urban development said the fly on the wall. The question is, “Are the residents of Eugene "down" with all of this new development, or do they envision a smaller, more livable community that will not lose its small town character?”

There is a long standing principle at stake in the United States of America of one person-one vote. However members of the Metropolitan Policy Committee actually have two votes; one as an official of the County Commission, City Council or Board to which they are elected, and another vote on the MPC to which they are appointed. These two votes are often on the same issue. How does that comply with the U.S. Constitution?”  - Scott Rohter

Mr. Reed writes that in the United States we protect the rights of minorities. Sure, as long as they are his favorite minorities. He says that we protect their right to speak out and be heard. Well not in Eugene we don’t. Not unless they happen to be from the Occupy Eugene Movement. In that case you can have a whole city park all to yourselves for over two months!

 A small minority from the Our Money Our Transit group with signs out in front of their businesses indicating their opposition to the west Eugene EmX, are being harassed by the City of Eugene for exercising their free speech rights. Only certain forms of free speech are acceptable in Eugene. Two of these business owners are actually being sued by the city right now, and fined over four hundred dollars a day!

Mr. Reed then says on the other hand that, "It doesn’t mean that a vocal group of residents get to overrule the plans of the entire community." But just who actually is the “community" and which group gets to rule? Does it mean that seven members of the Land Conservation and Development Commission, who are appointed by the Governor, get to overrule the clear voices of a substantial number of the residents of Eugene? If it does then I would suggest that this vocal minority appears to be ruling over the community against our will. I might add that the root of all evil land use decisions in Oregon is to be found in the sacred cow called Senate Bill 100, and the LCDC.

It might be appropriate to point out now that most Americans will own property in their lifetime, and that property rights are fundamental to freedom. Respect for private property rights is crucial if we are going to continue to live in a free country.  Without private property rights and the respect for property rights, there exists no such thing as freedom!

But the real vocal minority that is ruling over our community is not just the seven members of the LCDC. It includes the land planners in the City Planning and Development Department, like the person who wrote the editorial that I am responding to here. It also includes the LTD Board of Directors, a few far Left Wing Eugene City Councilors, and a Mayor who is beholden to the Left's so called “Progressive” ideology. No more than about twenty or thirty people are controlling an entire City of over 150,000 residents.

Mr. Reed claims that the impacts of the west Eugene EmX on property owners along the proposed route would only be minimal. If that was true then these same property owners wouldn’t have spent so much of their own time and money fighting the bus!

“The Lane Council of Governments (LCOG) has positioned itself to be the exclusive provider of support services to local government. They shouldn’t be allowed to have any more influence in affecting public policy decisions than anybody else, or any other group.”  -Jim Seaberry, past President of the River Road-Santa Clara Property Owners Association, and twice candidate for House District 39

As for the "thousands or possibly hundreds of thousands of potential new members of our community who have not yet moved here, but who might be the future bus riders of tomorrow." I would suggest that they stay right where they are. I don’t want thousands of new bus riders moving to Eugene just in order to make LTD’S unprofitable, commercial enterprise, more profitable! But I am not just picking on bus riders. I feel exactly the same way about thousands of new car riders or bike riders as well. I don’t want them moving here to swell the ranks of Eugene’s current riders, and to increase our urban density. I prefer my community to be a little less dense, and the people who live here as well. We should all learn to appreciate Eugene just the way that it is.

My whole point is that if you build it they will come. And if you don’t, then they won’t, or…they might come, but they won’t stay. They will go home when they can’t find a job and a place to live! I want to provide only enough jobs and opportunities for the people who are already living here, and for their children to come. I want to create just enough opportunities to support a sustainable community which provides a good quality of life for all who are here, but not thousands more. I don’t want hundreds of thousands of new immigrants moving here and swelling our ranks. I don’t want to see people being crowded into high rise, high density, urban housing projects like chickens in a coop, or sardines in a can, like they are in Boston, Chicago, or Seattle. If you like that, then why don’t you move there? But stop trying to turn my lovely little swan of a City into an overcrowded ugly duckling just to please some transportation fetish of yours!

Finally in considering our current and future elderly, Mr. Reed thinks that Eugene has done such a great job. I would like to remind you of two of our past elderly residents, Jack and Betty Neely, who were living in River Road just west of Eugene in 1995, but who were right in the path of its urban growth boundary. This city doesn’t care about its elderly, and it never has! And it never will as long as so called “progressives” like Kitty Piercy are Mayor. That’s why Eugene foreclosed on the single family home belonging to Jack and Betty Neely over fifteen years ago, because they stood up to the juggernaut of urban development and forced annexation. And they challenged all of the lies that Eugene told in order to force mass hookups to the Eugene Municipal Sewer System. And they refused to comply with illegal city ordinances that Eugene drafted in order to further their illegal objectives!

After the “compassionate” City of Eugene foreclosed on the Neely’s house, they kicked these two fine senior citizens out on the streets. Jack was 77 years old and Betty was 66 at the time. Jack died a month later of a stress related heart attack. The only thing that Eugene has ever cared about, and continues to care about is getting more, and more expensive properties on the tax rolls.

Enough is enough. Call or write your City Councilor and demand that they vote NO on the west Eugene EmX. Tell them to respect private property rights and freedom of speech in Eugene. If your city council seat is up for grabs in this election then ask the candidates how they intend to vote on the controversial EmX, and hold them accountable. Raise your voice for private property rights, common sense, and a small but livable community. One day those private property rights will be your own! Tell them to vote NO on the west Eugene EmX !

"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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