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Public involvement has been a critical component in getting us to an agreed-upon Urban Reserve area. There have been five large in-person meetings and a virtual, month-long open house that have been promoted to study area residents and the general public in a variety of ways. The first two Urban Reserves outreach events were held in October 2018 and May 2019 at the Downtown Library. Postcards were mailed to all property owners within the study area (other than Fisher Road). In November 2019, property owners within the Fisher Road expansion area were notified that their land was being considered for Urban Reserves. Then, in December 2019, all property owners whose land was still in an area being considered for urban reserves were notified by postcard and invited to three different Open House events. In June and July 2020, property owners were notified of the virtual open house hosted on Engage Eugene throughout July 2020.
In August 2018, the City Manager appointed 13 community volunteers to serve on the Envision Eugene Technical Advisory Committee (EETAC). The EETAC has been guiding Urban Reserves Planning by reviewing technical information that will be used to inform policy decisions, providing feedback to staff on technical-related issues, and reviewing assumptions and analysis related to long-term growth management-related efforts. You can keep up to date on their work at the EETAC project webpage, which includes the member roster and meeting materials.
Additionally, information is kept up to date on the City of Eugene Urban Reserves webpage and Urban Reserves Engage Eugene project page, and project updates are sent monthly in the EUG Planning Newsletter. We encourage anyone interested in getting regular project updates to sign up for the Urban Reserves Interested Parties list.
After receiving direction to proceed with the adoption process from the Board of Commissioners and City Council, a significant amount of work was undertaken. Some of this was policy refinement, drafting plan amendments, developing IGAs with service providers, writing legal findings, and documenting our public engagement process. In so doing, we also refined our analysis, and the proposed Eugene urban reserve boundary has changed slightly, resulting in 22 fewer developable acres. The proposed urban reserves are still expected to provide the City with approximately a 27-year supply of developable land, covering a planning period of 2032-2059. There was some parkland and LCC land not identified with development capacity on the edge of the study area removed from consideration as part of our suitability analysis, as well as a parcel with land in the Airport’s Runway Protection Zone, north of the Eugene Airport.
The capacity calculations in the urban reserves analysis are based on existing development patterns inside the UGB over a ten-year period completed for the previous UGB expansion analysis, included in the adopted Buildable Lands Inventory and acknowledged by the state of Oregon in January 2018. This was the best data we had when urban reserves analysis began in 2018, and when Council and the Board of Commissioners initiated the adoption process in 2020.
House Bill 2001 allows Eugene to develop more densely in areas previously zoned for single-family residential uses. New middle housing code amendments were finalized in June 2022 and began to take effect then. These code amendments may affect overall city density, how much land is needed when the UGB expands, and how quickly we would need to expand into urban reserves. However, there is no way yet to know future development patterns or market conditions. Because of this uncertainty, the bill states that local jurisdictions can increase their density estimations by only 3%, which may impact the amount of land needed at the next UGB analysis.
When it is time to do this analysis, new Growth Monitoring data will be used, which will include any changes in development patterns and densities, including from new middle housing code amendments.
The state gives communities flexibility when deciding on the size of Urban Reserves--we can designate enough land to meet the needs of between 10- and 30-years of population growth, from 2032. First, the Urban Reserves technical analysis gave us the critical information needed for establishing the Urban Reserves study area and calculating our land need. After completing the technical analysis, we conducted the suitability analysis to evaluate all land in the study area, then dismissed land that, on balance, would be unsuitable for Urban Reserves, according to the state guidelines. Using the technical and suitability analyses we began by identifying the best Urban Reserve option to meet a 30-year land need, then evaluated a range of other scenarios of varying sizes. There were several other options explored that were not moved forward, due primarily to physical constraints and land patterns that would negatively impact future serviceability. Preliminary options were refined, with the help of the Envision Eugene Technical Advisory Committee, that reflect the largest possible Urban Reserve size (30-year), the smallest possible Urban Reserve size (10-year) and two options that protect our highest-class soils.
For Urban Reserves, the state directs us to prioritize farm and forest land equally, so that properties of either type with the least productive soils are considered first for Urban Reserves. Therefore, we identified for each suitable property, the predominant land capability class for agricultural land and the predominant forest productivity class for forest land. Then, predominant agricultural land capability and forest productivity classes were combined into one dataset for analysis purposes. The land capability and forest productivity class data came from the US Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Forestry.
On Tuesday, November 10, 2020, the Lane County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a motion in support of the Eugene City Council’s initiation of a public review and adoption process to consider the establishment of Urban Reserves as described in Option 3, the 27-Year option. This direction is consistent with the majority of the input received through our public engagement process, the Envision Eugene Technical Advisory Committee recommendation to staff, and the Eugene Planning Commission recommendation to City Council. You can watch a recording of the meeting here.
Option 3 includes almost 6,000 acres of land, enough to meet approximately 27 years of growth beyond 2032 (to 2059). This Urban Reserve area strives to protect our highest value soils by removing from future urbanization all agricultural properties with predominant Class 1 land and directly adjacent agricultural properties with predominant Class 2 land.
Yes, the Urban Reserves designation could potentially be changed in the future, if the City Council and the Board of Commissioners agreed to do so. For example, at their November 10, 2020 meeting, the Lane County Board of Commissioners moved to include in the adoption package wording to revisit Urban Reserves within 10-years of UGB adoption.