Downtown Eugene

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Plethora of Possibilities

The next time I submit a proposal to a government, I'm going to include more than one possibility.

The first thing that happens, when making a case for community-based solutions, is the combing of the proposal for something that will cause rejection. Modern governments just work that way. The spirit of the proposal is actually not important: the red herrings are.

So I made a community-based proposal that described a preference for putting some buildings into a trust. I wouldn't have even talked about the buildings, but the RFQ required some statement on the purchase options. The committee didn't want a trust solution, so they reject the proposal out of hand -- all principles were ignored: 1) the sufficiency of existing structures, 2) the lack of necessity to increase density, 3) the simplicity of filling the empty space, 4) the precious people whose work now fills half of the existing spaces.

I needed to list all the possibilities ...

A. The City could issue a policy statement, that existing tenants will not be kicked out, so that their work can continue, without constant threat of Urban Renewal.

B. The City could make loans available to large groups of guarantors of tenants, so they can buy their buildings and make improvements to them. Currently, City loans, like those of most banks, must have no more than 4 guarantors reponsible for the loan. This makes it impossible for a group of 1000 poor people, for example, to buy a $1 million building, because no 4 of them can afford to take on an additional $250,000 mortgage each. The system is skewed towards the wealthy, making community-based solutions extremely difficult.

C. Initiate a small grant program to groups proposing to move downtown.

D. Create a reward / recognition grant program to help existing groups to expand their activity.

These are simple, open-ended policies, which are easy to test, and are non-destructive. They would lay the groundwork for endless fascinating business and community projects in downtown Eugene.