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Is the Proposed MAT Clinic Location on W. 11th allowed under the Metro Plan, the Westside Neighborhood Plan, and Existing Zoning? Perhaps not. Analysis.

Point of clarification: the issues raised here have nothing to do with the placement of the MAT Clinic in the JWN, the need for expanded services, or the effectiveness of the program. There is a compelling need that we support. However, the city rightly demands that all land use conforms to existing code and land use rules and in order for their to be equity among all developments, everyone must follow the rules. The JWN Executive Board would be in dereliction of its duties if it let certain projects slide because they would be, in our estimation, beneficial. That is not our call.

NOTE: The County MAT Team is presenting their plan and answering questions at the December 17 JWN Executive Board Meeting. The presentation starts at 7pm @ the McNail-Riley House at the corner of Jefferson and W. 13th.

[Analysis provided by Paul Conte, JWN Land Use Advisor]

Lane County Pursuing Methadone-Dispensing Clinic in JWN

Lane County Health and Human Services (HHS) Department is pursuing acquisition of the former Jones Roth building on the southwest corner of W. 11th Ave. and Lawrence St. to operate a Methadone-dispensing clinic. (Tax map and lot: 17-03-31-31 00100) This site is within the boundaries of the Jefferson Westside Neighbors. There is housing adjacent to the south and west sides of the site and commercial uses, including the Downtown Liquor Store, across the streets to the north and east.

The site’s base zone is “C-2 Community Commercial,” and the “/SR Site Review” overlay zone also applies. The Metro Plan designation is “Medium Density Residential” (MDR). The Westside Neighborhood Plan (WNP) applicable policies for the “East Residential/Mixed Use Area” that encompasses the site include:

Although the site is unambiguously designated for “medium-density residential” development in both the Metro Plan and WNP, the Metro Plan allows “Neighborhood Commercial Centers” to be located in areas designated residential. The Metro Plan defines both “Neighborhood Commercial Centers” and “Community Commercial Centers.” Community Commercial Centers are allowed only on sites that are explicitly designated as “Commercial” on the Metro Plan Diagram, which the subject site is not.

Eugene’s Land Use Code includes the “C-1 Neighborhood Commercial Zone,” which implements the Metro Plan’s Neighborhood Commercial Center and the “C-2 Community Commercial Zone,” which implements the Metro Plan’s Community Commercial Center. It thus appears that the C-2 zoning conflicts with the Metro Plan, and that the C-1 zone is the only commercial zone that would conform to the Metro Plan’s “Residential” designation.

The C-1 zone does not allow a “Non-residential drug treatment clinic”; whereas the C-2 zone does allow a drug treatment clinic. Because only the C-1 zone conforms to the Metro Plan, a drug treatment clinic would not conform to the Metro Plan.

The Oregon Supreme Court in Baker v. City of Milwaukie (21 OR 500 (1975)) stated:

“Likewise, the City of Milwaukie, upon adopting a comprehensive plan, had a duty to implement that plan through the enactment of zoning ordinances in accordance therewith.

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In summary, we conclude that a comprehensive plan is the controlling land use planning instrument for a city. Upon passage of a comprehensive plan a city assumes a responsibility to effectuate that plan and conform prior conflicting zoning ordinances to it. We further hold that the zoning decisions of a city must be in accord with that plan and a zoning ordinance which allows a more intensive use than that prescribed in the plan must fail.

Because C-2 allows “more intensive uses” than the C-1 zone, including drug treatment clinics, the Supreme Court decision prohibits the City from permitting a drug treatment clinic on the proposed site because the site’s plan designation, as implemented by the C-1 zone, does not allow such use.

The /SR overlay zone also imposes several requirements, including that a proposed use comply with “any additional specific factors applied at the time the /SR designation was applied.” (See Eugene Code 9.8440(7)). Those factors, if any, would also need to be determined if Lane County were to submit the required “Site Review” application to allow a drug treatment clinic.

The JWN Executive Board has unanimously approved the pilot project to house 3 to 6 residents in the Conestoga huts at the Lane Events Center and it now goes to the Lane County Commissioners. The Executive Board based its decision on the overwhelming support of neighbors, the record of Community Supported Shelters (CSS) managing these sites, evidence of their efficacy, and a record that demonstrates such a facility does not result in a rise in illegal activity proximate to the site. The Executive Board feels that this project will, in a small way, help address the challenges of homelessness without negatively impacting the neighborhood.

Process

177 neighbors participated in our online survey, with 85% in favor across the neighborhood and 60% in favor who live the area directly adjacent to the proposed site. Seven neighbors submitted emails, in which four were in favor of the project.

The survey came at the end of a public process that included mailed notification of all JWN addresses via the Summer Newsletter, notifications via our monthly eNews, several special eNews Editions, and postings on our social media and website. A public meeting on the project took place in September at the Lane Events Center and a discussion was held at the JWN October General Meeting. In addition, flyers were distributed in are areas directly adjacent to the proposed site notifying neighbors of the survey and providing a url.

Some neighbors expressed some specific concerns. While we cannot address each individual comment, we would make the following points:

  • The pilot site is not a homeless camp and is limited to those in the Community Supported Shelters program. There will be no tents, just 3 very neat and self-contained Conestoga huts actively monitored by Community Supported Shelters (CSS), who provide sanitation and garbage collection.
  • Residents are carefully selected and have at least 10 months successfully participating in the CSS program.
  • CSS managed site have not resulted in a rise in crime or illegal camping proximate to these sites. In fact, the experience with Conestoga hut sites like this is a reduction in illegal activity.
  • Three to six new people in the neighborhood will not constitute a parking problem, as they generally do not have cars.
  • The proposed site is on the fairgrounds property and residents will have to abide by fairground management rules, which are quite strict.
  • The Conestoga huts will be moved for 3 weeks around and during the annual county fair.

One neighbor has offered to do laundry for our new neighbors.

This is a pilot project to get, at least, a few people in shelters.  If there are any concerns, you are invited to contact us at jwneugene@gmail.com.  More people in sanctioned organized shelter means fewer people camping on our streets.