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Eugene City About a New Affordable Housing Project in Downtown

Eugene city officials didn’t have to look far to land a private developer to take the reins of an affordable housing project on the Eugene downtown riverfront.

The Eugene City Council unanimously authorized Monday the sale of a future parcel for $1 to Portland-based Williams & Dame & Associates. There is a condition that it will build at least 75 units of affordable housing on it.

Earlier this month, there was an agreement between the city and developer to partner on a public-private project to transform the Eugene Water & Electric Board’s former operations yard into a new neighborhood complemented with retail and a three-acre community park stretching along the riverfront.

The city initially had agreed to sell the lot to an affordable housing developer, which could have included Williams & Dame or another organization, at some point. But as the talks have continued, Williams & Dame expressed willingness to take on the project to give its investors greater certainty about its direction, Michael Kinnison, the city’s community development director, told city councilors.

“Williams and Dame feel they can ensure that’s done on an expedited timeline of a high-quality design that blends with the rest of the development,” Kinnison said.

A representative of the developer didn’t respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Several city councilors and residents had earlier expressed concerns about what they considered too little green space. The council directed city staff members to continue discussions with Williams & Dame to try to secure more parkland.

The project will be either constructed by Williams & Dame itself or in partnership with another organization. The developer, well-known for its projects in Portland, has partnered in the past with BRIDGE Housing Corp., which is a San Francisco-based affordable housing developer.

By buying the land for $1, Williams & Dames agreed to build no fewer than 75 units that are affordable to households earning less than 60% of the area median income, which is $38,460 a year. Monthly rents would be capped initially at $721 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,000 a month for a three-bedroom apartment, based on limits set by the federal government.

Williams & Dame and any partner would need to comply with these incomes and rent limits if they seek to qualify for a federal program that awards income tax credits.

The move by Williams & Dame may have boosted political support for its plan to seek a 10-year property tax waiver under the city’s Multi-unit Property Tax Exemption for the apartments it plans to build. It has not yet applied for the waiver.

To qualify for MUPTE, a developer either must designate 30% of the units as “workforce housing” with rents at or below 30% of the area median income, or no more than $1,283 a month for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,603 a month for a three-bedroom apartment — or the developer can pay a fee.

Councilor Alan Zelenka said a Williams & Dame MUPTE request would be dead on arrival for him if the developer had zero connection to the affordable housing project.

With Williams & Dame taking the project’s reins, “that at least opens it up for me to consider the MUPTE,” Zelenka said, although he noted he would need more information before deciding.

Oregon Genuise Creates New System: Chargeway for Electric Cars

A Portland-based man, Matt Teske, has addressed some of the issues that come with owning an electric vehicle, which is why he created Chargeway.

Chargeway is a structure of graphics about electric car charging that basically makes it easy to read and understand for people who own and drive electric vehicles.

Teske is a graphic designer, marketing expert, and an electric car advocate. He claims that a lot of electric car owners are usually confused and have a hard time absorbing all the information they need to know about their cars.

The electric car market is not doing as well as it’s supposed to and that’s because both the sellers and buyers are not keeping up with all the new updates of electric vehicles since it is a lot to absorb.

It’s the fact that not everyone has become familiar with these cars, so they choose to stick to what they know.

However, with Teske’s new creation, Chargeway, it will be much easier for people to know everything they need to about their electric vehicle.

He has organized all the information in difference colors and numbers to simplify everything for buyers and owners.

Even though engineers understand and know everything about electric cars better than most people, regular buyers and owners do not.

With his system, sellers and consumers can now understand everything very quickly which will help them make a decision faster.

Chargeway is also an app that can be downloaded on your phone for convenience. With it, electric car drivers will be able to locate charging stations around the city for their cars, without knowing the terminology or ratings of the different charging criteria.

Sales representatives can now understand “electric fuel” better to explain the charging of these cars to consumers with no hesitation.

Companies can now also explain the difference between liquid hydrocarbons and plug electricity for vehicles.

Charging networks will be able to use the labeling system that consumers will use to understand electric-car charging easier than ever.

According to Green Car Reports, Teske’s system is receiving lots of attention from investors. Oregon’s DOT will also start using Chargeway later this year as well.

He has created the ultimate solution to get people to understand and purchase electric cars.

Oregon’s New License Requirement Blocks Uber’s Return in State

Uber says a rule that its drivers must have a valid Oregon driver’s license represents a major sticking point threatening its return to the Eugene-Springfield area.

In a joint letter, Uber and Lyft raised objections to proposed ride-hailing rules Eugene city officials drafted and put out for public review earlier this month. Once the rules are adopted the companies could apply for an operating license.

The letter doesn’t specify the proposed rule or rules that Uber and Lyft find objectionable. But in an interview, Friday, Nathan Hambley, an Uber spokesman, said the Oregon license requirement is a major concern. A Lyft representative couldn’t be reached for comment, and it’s unclear if that company shares the same concern.

Hambley said the requirement removes a large candidate pool of drivers who are students at the University of Oregon. He said no other Oregon city has such a requirement.

Lindsay Selser, a city spokeswoman, said the requirement ensures the city, through a contract with the state Driver & Motor Vehicle Services, gets notified whenever any licensed driver is cited or arrested for an offense such as drunk driving.

The city “would not receive a similar notification for an out-of-state driver’s license, which poses a significant safety concern,” she said. “Notably, many other jurisdictions require in-state driver’s licenses for (ride-hailing) drivers, such as the entire state of California.”

Under the long-standing requirement, a candidate driver must present a valid Oregon driver’s license when applying for a driver certification to work as a for-hire driver in the community. The city would have the authority to revoke the license for driving violations.

Selser said city staff will review all the comments, as is standard practice, and may make changes to the rules before they’re adopted.

“We continue to be hopeful we will reach a solution that works well for all while maintaining important community safety standards,” she said.

The letter came in response to the city’s proposed rule changes that officials put out for public review and comment. The city has received 78 comments as of Friday. The deadline is June 29.

Even if the city were to remove the licensing requirement, Hembley said Uber would need to review the adopted rules before making a decision to apply to resume operations in the Eugene-Springfield area. The city of Eugene would manage the permitting process for ride-hailing companies that also operate in Springfield.

Uber had operated in the Eugene-Springfield area for less than a year before it suspended operations in April 2015. At the time, a city hearings official ruled that the company must secure a vehicle-for-hire license to continue operating in Eugene. To settle a lawsuit filed by the city, Uber then agreed not to resume service in Eugene without securing that license.

Important to mention that Lyft has never operated in the Eugene-Springfield area.

In April, Eugene city councilors changed the ordinance to ease the requirements to help lure back the ride-hailing companies while seeking to protect public safety and maintain the same rules that apply to taxi companies. The city is taking public comment before adopting the rules.

The changes came after intense lobbying by Eugene’s tech and business sectors whose representatives said the ride-hailing companies provide an important transportation alternative for visitors.

Is Killing Sea Lions Fair to Protect Fish From Going Extinct in Oregon?

In the town of Astoria, Oregon lots of sea lions come from California annually and attract tourists. Even though tourists love seeing them near the shore, the locals are fed up from the sea lions.

Officials have tried using a variety of obstacles that might try to cause the sea lions to leave, but nothing seems to scare them off. Even though the sea lions are lawfully protected, Oregon authorities are trying to get permission to be able to kill them.

According to Oregon marine biologists, Winter Steelheads will soon start to go extinct and the sea lions are the cause. They feed on Winter Steelheads at Willamette Falls. If they do receive permission to be able to kill the sea lions, they would be allowed to kill about 92 sea lions annually.

In the 70s, the population of sea lions was lower than 90,000. However, over the last few years, their population has grown up to 300,000.

Oregon veterinarians argue that being allowed to kill some of the sea lions will help protect the Winter Steelheads from going extinct. A large number of sea lions feed on these fish every year. The fish are very outnumbered.

California sea lions swim up North during the month of September. They stay in Oregon until the month of May. From the coasts of Oregon, they swim to Willamette Falls to feed on the fish. Even though they are marine animals, they have adapted to swimming in freshwater.

Over the past few years, the number of fish that were making it over the falls was over 15,000. However, this past winter, only 1,000 of the fish made it to over the falls according to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

25% of the fish were eaten by sea lions.

The sea lions also feed on Salmon and other fish in the Columbia River with low population numbers.

Officials tried to capture sea lions while they were bathing, transported them further away from their location and then freed them, but it did not seem to stop the sea lions from going back and feeding on the fish.

Humane Society Marine Wildlife believes that this is an “endless and ineffective treadmill of death.”

Oregon authorities only want the protection of the sacred fish in the falls, however, killing sea lions in order to protect the fish does not seem like the best plan to the government.

ODOT Considers 5 Plans for Interstate Tolling

Oregon Department of Transportation officials are weighing their options when it comes to implementing tolls on Interstate 5 and Interstate 205.

According to a local news partner, The Columbian, The Value Pricing Policy Advisory Committee held a meeting Monday to discuss the five tolling options on the table. The tolls could impact all lanes on Interstate 5 between Multnomah Boulevard and Northeast Going Street and Interstate 205 from south of Marine Drive to the merging point with I-5.

The five concepts are labeled A through E.

Of the 5 options, the committee is considering starting with Concept B, which would use tolling just on I-5 as a pilot project, The Columbian reports.

If that project is successful, Oregon might then consider expanding tolling to all lanes of I-5 and I-205 – Concept C.

The committee says Concept C would provide the most congestion relief, but it’s also complicated to implement, Chris Swensen, southeast director for toll systems and managed lanes for WSP, told The Columbian.

Concept C would generate approximately $300 million a year, but it also comes with the largest capital expenditure necessary to implement.

Concept B would be relatively easy to implement and would generate enough revenue to cover toll operation expenses and routine roadway maintenance, according to Washington State Patrol.

However, Concept B would not generate nearly as much revenue as Concept C, only about $50 million a year.

Concept A, which would cost Southwest Washington residents the most, was not recommended by a consultant.

The final meeting will be held on July 25.

E-Bikes To be Allowed on Oregon Beaches This Summer

Electric bicycles would be permitted on Oregon beaches as soon as this summer, under a proposal by the state.

Oregon State Parks’ law changes would permit e-bikes on the sand between the low-tide waterline and vegetation line along portions of the coast, according to Katie Gauthier, legislative and policy coordinator for the state agency. A push by e-bike riders has prompted Oregon State Parks to clarify which of its trails, as well as beaches, are open for e-bikes.

Where the agency would permit e-bikes on trails would depend on the size of the trail. Popular trails that are wide enough for e-bikes include:

  • The Banks-Vernonia State Trail near Portland, and
  • The OC and E Woods Line State Trail in and near Klamath Falls.

Current State Parks rules allow bicycles, but not e-bikes, on about 130 miles of trails and roads winding through state parks around Oregon, Gauthier said. The agency allows bikes, but not e-bikes, on many of Ore­gon’s beaches.

Oregon law classifies electric-assisted bicycles as bikes with electric motors under 1,000 watts and incapable of speeds faster than 20 mph on flat ground.

Oregon law also stipulates that the rider must be 16 or older. Oregon State Parks still would prohibit electric vehicles without pedals from zooming along beaches and park trails.

Advances in e-bike technology have made them an increasingly popular mode of transportation in the past five years, said John Dodd, an owner at Eugene Electric Bicycles. The shop at 545 High St. specializes in e-bike sales and service. Occasionally, customers ask about cruising beaches on the bikes, and they are most interested in buying e-bikes that also are fat bikes, or bicycles with tires 4 inches wide or wider.

Dodd said he welcomes more clarity from Oregon State Parks regarding where e-bikes are allowed, including beaches.

Under its proposal, Oregon State Parks would allow e-bikes on trails and roads 8 feet wide and wider in public parks the agency oversees. It doesn’t have any such trails in Lane County, but Gauthier said the rule change would apply to about 30 miles of beaches in the county.

The agency would keep e-bikes, and pedal-powered bikes, off beaches and trails near Western snowy plover nests along the coast. The shorebirds nest between March 15 and Sept. 15. State and federal wildlife agencies have the Western snowy plover listed as a threatened species.

Oregon State Parks is taking public comment on the e-bikes proposal until May 18 and plans to hold six public hearings during the next month. Three public hearings are set for cities on the Oregon Coast. The closest to Eugene will be on April 25 in Salem.

The Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission, which sets policy for Oregon State Parks, likely will vote on the proposal at its June meeting.

Surplus and Pain from Trump Tax Plan in Oregon

SALEM, Oregon — A report released Friday from Oregon’s state economists warned the federal tax overhaul could cost the state more than $200 million in revenue in the short term, amid an overall bright outlook for state businesses and workers.

The report by the office of Economic Analysis predicted state tax revenues would drop, then eventually begin to rise after changes made in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed by President Trump late last year. Ultimately, state economists said economic activity stimulated by the overhaul should make up most of the loss, leaving the state only about $40.1 million in the red. They cautioned that the effect was uncertain.

“Our forecasts are always very uncertain. There’s always a whole lot of upside and downside risk,” said Mark McMullen, the state economist for Oregon. “This time it’s even more extreme — I am not even sure the authors of the federal tax law know all of its implications.”

Because of both the tax overhaul and the recent stock market adjustment, in which markets dropped sharply at the start of this month, state economists lowered their revenue predictions through at least 2023.

Oregon uses figures from residents’ federal tax forms to calculate state tax, so changes to federal law automatically carry over to the state’s own system. Based on changes to tax law alone, the maximum potential impact on state revenues from the overhaul is about $217 million in the next two years — and would last until the expiration of some tax discounts in the federal rules. But McMullen said state economists expect increased economic activity and corporate funds repatriated from offshore to wipe out about $177 million of the shortfall.

The report also relayed positive signs about economic activity in the state, with employment growth and wages and household income rising faster than the national average. Analysts described the figures as in keeping with previous predictions, and part of a long-running national economic upturn.

The effect of the federal overhaul had been a point of uncertainty for state lawmakers, who had been debating adjustments to state taxes based on early estimates that the overhaul would initially cost Oregon about $55 million per year. The prediction of a smaller deficit raised questions about whether lawmakers would adjust their response.

Senate Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson said in a statement that she remained uneasy over the effects of the federal plan on state revenues in the long run, despite the positive news in the forecast.

Sen. Jackie Winter, the leader of the Republican minority, said she saw the forecast as eliminating the need for tax increases this year.

A key feature of the report is the gradual decrease of the negative effects of both the overhaul and the market shift. The report and other state documents predict it will occur over about the next six years. State predictions, which give figures for two-year periods, put the state down $40.1 million in 2018-2019, down roughly $109 million in 2020-2021, and down $93 million in 2022-2023, compared to revenue estimates prepared last year. After 2023, forecasters say effects from both will become positive.

Chief among the drivers of the swing is the stock market shift, McMullen said, the effects of which will likely take multiple years to fully affect the state economy.

On Friday, other Oregon economists said they saw the findings in the report as positive news for the state’s economy in general, but unclear in their effects on the state budget, especially in the long term.

Eugene Gas Price Stays Steady: Will it change in 2018?

Gas Price EugeneEUGENE, Oregon — Average retail gasoline prices in Eugene have not moved in the past week, averaging $2.77/g Monday, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 78 gas outlets in Eugene.

This compares with the national average that has increased 3.9 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.48/g.

Including the change in gas prices in Eugene during the past week, prices were 29.1 cents per gallon higher Monday than the same day one year ago and are 5.8 cents per gallon lower than a month ago.

The national average has increased 1.3 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 13.6 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.


Gasoline prices on January 2 in Eugene have ranged widely over the last five years:
2017 – $2.48/g
2016 – $2.34/g
2015 – $2.49/g
2015 – $2.49/g
2014 – $3.37/g
2013 – $3.41/g


Areas near Eugene and their current gas price climate:

Portland – $2.81/g, down 0.4 cents per gallon from last week’s $2.81/g.
Medford – $2.80/g, up 2.7 cents per gallon from last week’s $2.78/g.
Salem – $2.75/g, up 1.2 cents per gallon from last week’s $2.74/g.


“It’s mostly a happy New Year as gas prices remain in the low-to-mid $2 per gallon range, but it’s not quite as happy as could be as it’s the priciest start to a New Year since 2014,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “2017 wrapped up a fairly tame year, but keep in mind oil prices are among the highest we’ve witnessed in over two years, and we’re in the middle of a severe cold snap, one which is likely to drive up demand for heating oil, propane and other petroleum products, which is certainly a bullish start to the year. GasBuddy’s 2018 Annual Fuel Outlook, being released tomorrow morning, will be giving motorists a good look at what to expect in the year ahead. In looking at our own report card from our 2017 Fuel Outlook, we had forecast a yearly average gas price of $2.49 per gallon, and were less than 10 cents away from hitting it head on. Anyone who’s got a tank to fill- whether gas or diesel- will want to stay in the know for what’s coming in the year ahead.”


Coca-Cola Bottling Franchisee Could Bring New Life to Shuttered Eugene Factory

EUGENE, OR – The shuttered Coca-Cola bottling factory in northeast Eugene may get a second life.

A Utah-based Coca-Cola bottling franchisee is examining an enlargement of the 24,000-square-foot distribution building at 2980 Chad Drive, according to planning documents filed with the Eugene Planning and Development Department.

Swire Coca-Cola, USA, headquartered in suburban Salt Lake City, bought the building in May from another franchisee based in Los Angeles for $1.8 million, according to a deed filed in Lane County.

The building has been unused and vacant since 2013.

An architectural firm working with Swire filed documents and blueprints with the city of Eugene proposing a building addition of an undisclosed size, plus improvements to the existing interior.

A Swire spokeswoman, Scarlett Foster-­Moss, said the company had not committed to any expansion in Eugene. “We are in the process of taking on new territory in Oregon,” she said. “As part of that, we are really exploring all of our options in terms of our ability to grow our footprint. Obviously, that means assessing all the facilities we now possess.”

The Chad Drive bottling and distribution factory was built on 8 acres in 1990, with large truck bays and warehouse doors for Coca-Cola to distribute soft drinks across the region. The property sits between Chad Drive and Randy Papé Beltline.

Coca-Cola closed the facility in 2013 as it developed its distribution in the Portland area, laying off 21 warehouse drivers and others.

Swire’s documents are light on details. A two-line project description says, “tenant improvement of interior office space” and “building addition at the south side of the distribution center.” On October 10, company representatives met with city planners to discuss the plan.

Two blueprints appear to show an addition even larger than the existing building.

Swire’s purchase of the Eugene property was part of a refranchising agreement that gave the company control of bottling and distribution buildings in Bend, Wilsonville, Pendleton and La Grande. The company also owns dozens of properties in eight other west and Midwest states, according to its website.

Swire is the 3rd largest independent Coca-Cola bottler in the United States, its website says, with more than 1,800 employees.

Greater Limitations on Fireworks in Eugene

EUGENE – Eugene City Councilors are taking to the public their future ordinance further restricting the use of fireworks.

Councilors voted 6-2 to move the regulation to a public hearing on Wednesday.

The regulation tightens up limits on firework use within Eugene city limits.

It shrinks the window that you can legally light personal fireworks to the following four days:

July 3

July 4

New Year’s Eve, and

New Year’s Day

Large commercial events, such as an Emeralds baseball game, would need special approval to light fireworks outside of those days.

The proposed regulation also bans fireworks that produce “audible effects” such as whistles, screeches or bands.

It is too loud if it can be heard more than 50 feet away.

Other councilors said that restriction of noisy fireworks will protect sensitive groups like those with PTSD, seniors, pets, or just the general public.

They also cite safety as another reason to tighten up restrictions.

Councilor Betty Taylor said, “I hope we don’t have to have a huge fire before we actually have a ban.”

In addition, Councilors Greg Evans and Mike Clark voted against moving the proposed ordinance to a public hearing. Clark said, “I think this ordinance is silly”.

Clark also questioned the city’s ability to apply the new regulation.

One idea is to use a new App, “Nail ‘Em,” that is now being used in California. With the click of a button, the app allows you to record your neighbors’ fireworks use and send it directly to police.
Amy Linder with Eugene-Springfield Fire said, “You can take a photograph of what you observe, it marks it with a time stamp and GPS coordinate, and then that data is collected”.

Linder reported they are still in the initial stages of exploring the app and that might not be ready for this Independence Day. Nevertheless, the proposed ordinance might. Councilors want to hear more from the community at a public hearing. The earliest that could be scheduled for is November 20.

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