Downtown Eugene


Monday, March 20, 2006

Well that didn't work

Despite the largest showing at a hearing for years, the city council passed the bill to fund the parking garage, a subsidy to Whole Foods to enter the Eugene market. As the developers and land-owners hoped, property in downtown's extreme east end immediately became hotter.

I went to the meeting with one long-time resident who felt that the speeches by Eugene's activists were not very good. I told her that this is not the problem. The problem is, they were just activists, and in a tough battle, what they say doesn't matter, unless they marshall the forces of the general population.

This is a common misconception. In 1995, I created the clearest proposal for a public-benefit development project in Eugene's history. It was so compelling, that the City Council needed to dedicate a meeting to it, even though this was supposed to be a committee's decision. But it didn't matter. Money and local power won the day, and my proposal was pushed aside for an unclear proposal, made by friends of the powerful.

So, being eloquent and correct isn't enough. You really need to make the population rise up. One of the most effective tools for this is the local initiative. It's very underused.

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