January 27, 2021
Neighborhood Plan - River
River Road - Santa Clara
2020 Year in Review

Note from River Road-Santa Clara Neighborhood Plan
Community Advisory Committee Co-Chairs Jon Belcher and Kate Perle

Wow! For a year that seemed to drag on interminably, it also slipped by quickly. We have been continuing the progress on our neighborhood plan despite the Covid-related setbacks. We are zeroing in on the final action planning and getting ready to invent new ways to reach out to you, our neighbors, and share the work. 

Some things have changed- not just the way we meet, but the way our plan will look. Oregon House Bill 2001 has fundamentally changed what can be built in residential neighborhoods and our carefully crafted plan to create specific areas of different housing types has to adjust to this new state mandate. 

Neighborhood successes - we have experienced some successes during these trying times, and we will acknowledge the work that the River Road and Santa Clara Community Organizations have accomplished this past year under the Community Vision Statement below.
Jon Belcher: jbelcher@efn.org
Kate Perle: fccf@efn.org

Note from City of Eugene Planning Staff

2020 has been a year full of challenges and adjustments, but also a year full of progress and resilience. Despite the tribulations faced by many, and the sense of isolation we’ve all endured, our communities have found creative ways to come together and continue moving forward.

Many projects throughout the River Road and Santa Clara Neighborhoods made progress this past year and this newsletter highlights those projects and how they align with the community’s vision for the future of the area, as conceptualized in the River Road-Santa Clara Neighborhood Plan.

The goals of the Neighborhood Plan revolve around five main Topic Areas: Economic Development, Transportation, Parks and Natural Resources, Land Use, and Community. See how projects from 2020 helped move the community towards these goals and the vision for the future. 

Chelsea Hartman: CHartman@eugene-or.gov
Elena Domingo: EDomingo@eugene-or.gov
Transportation Vision Statement
“The integrated transportation system in River Road and Santa Clara is safe, efficient, and accessible for people of all ages, abilities, and socio-economic levels who choose to bike, walk, drive, or use public transit. This system supports redevelopment, economic opportunity and affordable, convenient access to daily needs. The design of the transportation system enhances the sense of place and responds to the evolving needs of the community. Our transportation system is environmentally responsible and supports low carbon transportation options.”
Below are 2020 updates on transportation projects in the River Road and Santa Clara area:

MPO Funding
Last spring, the City of Eugene applied for transportation funds distributed by the Central Lane Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) to fund multiple projects across the city, including four located in River Road or Santa Clara. The MPO’s Metropolitan Policy Committee approved funding for Federal Fiscal Years 2022-2024, including full funding for the four projects in the River Road-Santa Clara area:

  • Division Avenue Roundabouts: To address a history of recent crashes on Division Avenue, this project will use temporary construction materials build a series of three roundabouts between River Road and Lone Oak Avenue. Other elements of the project include safer pedestrian crossings and separated bike lanes.

  • Hunsaker Lane Complete Street Improvements: River Road to Taito - Reconstruct Hunsaker as a complete street from River Road to Taito Street. The project will include sidewalks, buffered bike lanes and stormwater facilities.

  • West Bank Path Extension: Echo to Admiral - This project will extend the West Bank Path from Beaver Street north to Admiral Street with sidewalk infill and neighborhood greenway improvements on Admiral north to Wilkes Drive. Before this project is built, Lane County will construct an extension of the West Bank Path along Beaver Street from Division Avenue to Taito Street.

  • Vision Zero Intersection Study (several intersections in River Road-Santa Clara) - Analysis of high-crash intersections - in-depth examination of existing transportation safety conditions, identify design improvements to alleviate traffic hazards.

Safe Routes to School Grant
The City of Eugene applied for a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Grant totaling $447,896 to develop a protected walking and bicycling space on Howard Avenue between River Road and Howard Elementary. This project will give students walking and bicycling to school safe space to travel that is physically separated from traffic. There will be a public involvement process in 2021, design in 2022 and construction in 2023. This project was recommended by the Oregon Safe Routes to School Advisory Committee, which focused on projects that had the highest safety risk, addressed barriers for students at low-income schools, and those that had a high probability of project completion within five years. The funding was approved by the Oregon Transportation Commission in early December. See here for more information about 2021-2022 SRTS Grant approved projects statewide.

Santa Clara Transit Station
Lane Transit District (LTD) is nearing completion of the construction of the Santa Clara Transit Station, located at the site of the former Santa Clara Elementary School on River Road between Green Lane and Hunsaker lane in North Eugene. Relocating the current transit station from River Road just south of Beltline will help address safety issues, congestion, and operational inefficiency that has impacted access to this site. Amenities at the new site include secured bike parking, approximately 60 park & ride spaces, and a dedicated RideSource bay. Construction of the site will be wrapping up and the station is planned to open for revenue service beginning in February. 
Land Use Vision Statement 
“Land use in River Road and Santa Clara supports neighborhood character and local identity, including our long-standing agricultural heritage and high value soils. Our neighborhoods are walkable, with a range of housing types affordable to all residents. Abundant shops, services and community spaces are served by a variety of transportation options. Strategic development and revitalization in more urban locations, especially the River Road corridor, helps maintain neighborhood character while meeting our housing and economic needs in a way that is environmentally responsible. Development is well designed, sustainable, and compatible with existing surroundings. Adjacent to the Willamette River greenway, development improves safety, enhances access, and respects ecological functions.”
Below are 2020 updates on land use planning and low-income housing projects in the River Road and Santa Clara area:

Iris Place Housing Project
The City-owned property at 1531-1563 River Road acquired through the Land Acquisition for Affordable Housing program was transferred to St. Vincent de Paul in July for the development of 53 housing units (one, two, and three-bedroom apartments) for households at or below 50% and 30% Area Median Income (AMI). Key features of the development include energy efficiency, ample green space, vibrant landscaping, and emergency preparedness.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has had some impacts on pricing and supply issues, St. Vincent de Paul is working with construction and architectural partners to keep the project moving forward. Construction began the first week of August and is aiming to be complete in November 2021.

The Lucy Housing Project
In October, Cornerstone Community Housing requested $650,000 of Eugene-Springfield HOME funds to help build 36 units in the Santa Clara neighborhood at 850 Hunsaker Lane targeted to low, very low and extremely low-income households, including units set aside for survivors of domestic violence. The HOME Investment Partnership Program is a federal program administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to expand affordable housing opportunities for low-income persons. Eugene and Springfield receive HOME funds jointly as the Eugene-Springfield HOME Consortium. The Lucy proposal was recommended by the Evaluation Committee for funding and City Council approved the proposal on January 11, 2021. The Eugene-Springfield HOME Consortium Governing Board will make the final decisions for HOME funds on February 9th.

See The Lucy's full application for HOME funds here and visit our website to learn more about our Affordable Housing Development Programs.

HB 2001 Update
House Bill 2001 is an Oregon law passed in 2019 that is intended to provide more opportunities for a variety of housing types in traditionally single-family neighborhoods and to increase the overall housing supply in and around cities. No later than June 30, 2022, Eugene must amend the City’s land use regulations to allow:

A duplex on each lot or parcel:
  • That is located within city limits;
  • That is zoned for residential use; and
  • On which the City’s land use regulations allows the construction of a detached single-family dwelling; and

Triplexes, quadplexes, cottage clusters, and townhouses in residential zones within the City that allow detached single-family dwellings.

In December, Oregon’s Department of Land Conservation and Development, the state's planning agency, finalized a model code and minimum standards for compliance with House Bill 2001. The City of Eugene is still evaluating the law, discussing its impacts, and formulating a plan to implement its requirements. Recommended principles and code concepts will be created and broadly shared with the community this year. This HB 2001 implementation process will inform refinements to the River Road Special Area Zone, proposed as part of the neighborhood planning process.

Learn more about HB 2001 and Eugene's Middle Housing Code Amendment Process on our website.
Parks and Natural Resources Vision Statement 
“River Road and Santa Clara celebrate a rich diversity of private and shared green spaces, including parks for recreation, natural areas that support native plants and wildlife, and farmland for food production. All residents have a clean, safe, accessible and well-maintained park or recreation facility close to their home. Residents have access to the Willamette River, which is celebrated as a natural asset, a defining characteristic of both neighborhoods, and a statewide resource. Natural assets, such as the tree canopy, soils and the watershed, are protected for future generations and are highly valued and cared for as natural infrastructure that enhances ecosystem health, provides opportunities for recreation, and supports the working landscape.”
Below are 2020 updates on a Santa Clara park project and Urban Reserves direction related to the preservation of agricultural lands within and around the neighborhood boundaries: 

Santa Clara Community Park Update
Santa Clara Park is a future community park site currently comprised of two open fields with informal walking paths on the north and east sides of Madison Middle School, off Wilkes Drive. City of Eugene Parks and Open Space staff held three community meetings this year to collect feedback to help create a vision and gather input on conceptual plans for this 35-acre park.

In general, workshop participants expressed a high level of interest for many of the typical elements that we see in a community park, including a playground, restroom, shade, open lawn, community gardens, courts, flexible event space and picnic facilities. Feedback included a high regard for preserving and enhancing natural areas and trails.
Based on the community input, a Draft Master Plan and a Draft Phase 1 Improvement Plan were released for the third workshop in December. Identifying what amenities will be constructed in the first phase of park development is the next step in this process. Further steps in the project timeline include design and engineering for the park from 2021-2022 and a construction schedule from 2022-2023.

The Santa Clara Community Organization has been working on a grassroots effort to re-purpose the existing building known as “the schoolhouse” within the north half of the park. The restored school house is reflected in the Draft Master Plan of the park.

Urban Reserves Direction
Urban Reserves are a special designation, allowed by state law, for lands outside the urban growth boundary (UGB) that can be considered a first priority if and when Eugene needs to expand for its growing population. Land designated as Urban Reserves will remain rural, and cannot be urbanized, unless it is brought into the city’s UGB through a formal process for expansion. Eugene’s UGB is currently projected to have enough land for our population through 2032. Since population and development trends can change, Urban Reserves allows us to plan beyond 2032.

Since June, a range of Urban Reserve Options were under review with the help of many stakeholders, and in November, 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 Urban Reserves area includes almost 6,000 acres of land, enough to meet approximately 27 years of growth beyond 2032. The Urban Reserve area in the 27-year option 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, which are primarily located in the Santa Clara area. The 27-year option is consistent with Goal 10 of the draft River Road Santa Clara Neighborhood Plan, which focuses on preserving agricultural land and open spaces within and around the neighborhood boundaries.

Staff are beginning to assemble an adoption package for review. The formal adoption process will include work sessions and public hearings with Eugene and Lane County Planning Commissions as well as the Eugene City Council and Lane County Board of Commissioners, with the Council and Board ultimately acting on the adoption package. 
For more information on the Urban Reserve area, and all of the Urban Reserve options that were under consideration, please see the interactive Urban Reserve Options Story Map or the project webpage. You can also sign up for the Urban Reserves Interested Parties Mailing List to be notified in advance of public meetings. 
Community Vision Statement 
“The River Road and Santa Clara Neighborhoods exude a strong sense of place. They are welcoming and inclusive neighborhoods for people of all backgrounds. River Road and Santa Clara celebrate and nurture community unity and diverse cultures, and honors the rich history of farming in the neighborhoods. The community recognizes the value of natural assets, such as the River, and thriving shared spaces, such as parks, schools and local businesses. Our neighborhoods are safe, resilient, and engaged, with strong social networks and reliable public services."
Below are 2020 updates on neighborhood and community projects in the River Road and Santa Clara area:
River Road Community Organization (RRCO) Accomplishments:
  • Our Resiliency Committee Made and distributed approximately 350 container gardens to neighbors and others.
  • River Road Community Organization is now an Oregon Benefit and Charitable Organization.
  • We established a Neighborhood Social Justice Committee and an Emergency Evacuation and Preparedness Committee.
  • Our North Eugene Homeless Advocacy committee has been working with City and County staff to find appropriate sites for housing the homeless.

Santa Clara Community Organization (SCCO) Accomplishments:
  • We formed the Santa Clara Community Foundation, a non-profit to assist in furthering the work of the community organization.
  • We have made progress on the preservation of a historic schoolhouse that will one day be the property of SCCO and be renovated to serve as a community space.
  • Our voices were heard regarding the desire to protect prime farmland from future development, when the City and County elected officials agreed to pursue an Urban Reserves option that protects these lands.
santa clara schoolhouse
What's to Come in 2021
Since 2019, the River Road-Santa Clara Neighborhood Plan has been in the Action Planning Phase, with the Community Advisory Committee, City, County, and partner agency staff focusing on drafting, evaluating and prioritizing actions to implement the draft plan policies. Community input will continue throughout the Adoption Phase through newsletter updates, virtual input opportunities, involvement of the River Road and Santa Clara Community Organizations, mailed notices, and outreach to residents and property owners.

COVID-19 has limited the ways we’ve been able to interact with the community, but we are working on creative solutions to get feedback on the Neighborhood Plan Adoption Package this year. This feedback will help inform the community recommendation from the River Road and Santa community organizations and the Community Advisory Committee. The community recommendation will then be forwarded to the Eugene and Lane County Planning Commissions to begin the formal adoption process.

We’re looking forward to engaging with you this year and making progress towards the neighborhood vision that will guide decision-making in River Road and Santa Clara for decades to come! 
Get Involved In Your Community Organization
Both the River Road Community Organization and Santa Clara Community Organization are active in the neighborhood planning process as well as other neighborhood issues. Check out their websites to learn more about neighborhood events and news.