Downtown Eugene

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

West Broadway Specifics

Dear Mayor and Council,

West Broadway is increasingly healthy !

Please don't hurt it.

It is the heart of Eugene's nightlife !

People from all walks of life, from professors to mechanics, teachers to roofers, find their way to West Broadway for a social drink -- because of the stunning diversity of local establishments there!! Since it's a pedestrian-friendly area, they can socialize, eat, entertain themselves, and sober up, without driving. And there are popular all-ages activities too, where high-schoolers mingle with retirees.

Mike Clark says "I think it is fundamentally broken in this area." This is dangerously imprecise talk from a public official, extremely negative, and a direct threat to all of us, who have actually rolled up our sleeves, and made West Broadway the most lively district in town.

So let's get to specifics. What's a problem, and what is not?

Problem: Mad street people. Mike has trouble with one street person. We all know him.
Solution: This person should be offered help & psychiatric care.

Problem: North Side at-risk-youth. These kids are just bored, so they hang together, in the space Symantec abandoned. Sometimes they beg for money. More rarely, they get in trouble.
Solution: An opportunity center and school, in this space. There are several non-profits with fascinating, community-participatory ideas for a school there. It works -- the at-risk youth in front of Network Charter School do not beg for money.

Problem: Holes in the ground, caused by the City, and developers.
Solution: Build "housing in the holes". And ONLY in the holes. Please leave the rest of our buildings alone!

Problem: Center Court building
Solution: Let it rent. It was full, until recently, and then emptied on purpose. A non-profit wanted to buy it, but local elitists prevented this. It's a perfectly viable building, as it is.

Problem: Day-time activity
Solution: Most of the businesses and schools on West Broadway would love to be busier during the day. Some investment from the City would make that possible, at a far lower cost than KWG's "guaranteed profit" demand.

Because it is so disjoint from reality, the current, dangerously vague planning process, also addresses non-problems.

Not a problem: KWG wants to turn West Broadway into an "entertainment district".
Reason: West Broadway already is this!! Market forces, and committed people, did this work already. Why would you destroy it?

Not a problem: Lack of shopping
Reason: Does every place need to be a shopping district?! There are lots of local shopping areas already, and there are dead streets all over downtown ... why would you destroy the heart of Eugene's nightlife, to create a daytime shopping district? That's extremely wasteful. Does no one care about efficiency anymore?

Not a problem: Lack of housing.
Reason: First, we must see if "housing in the holes" is viable. Also, please keep in mind, that if you want a lively nightlife district, you don't want much housing. All around the world, the most dense nightlife is separated from housing. West Broadway never had much housing, and doesn't "need" it. And why would you remove buildings, full of businesses, to do it? Why is the housing "better" than the businesses? Why would you want to unnecessarily make that judgement, and destroy people's work? Why not build housing, instead, on surface parking lots, a block away?

Not a problem: The Washburne building
Reason: It's 90% full !! The City should step back from it. Similarly, why is the Tango Center building threatened by the council? It is 83% occupied, and draws 500 sober people downtown every week. It should be protected by the council.

Not a problem: Drinking
Reason: This is legal activity, and safest in a pedestrian-friendly place like West Broadway, where food, dancing and music are also available.

Not a problem: The poor and disenfranchised
Reason: They have the right to gather in the heart of Eugene, too. If you want to help them, then help them -- but don't try to kick them out, just because you don't want to see them.

Please, please consider passing a resolution not to destroy businesses and non-profits on West Broadway. Even if you think "something" is wrong with West Broadway -- then, like a doctor, you must "first do no harm". Threatening us, with this planning process, has already been harmful.


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