UO submits Conditional Use Permit to City for North Campus

2/28/2018: Yesterday, after a last-minute meeting between the administration and faculty opponents, the UO administration submitted its request to the city for a Conditional Use Permit that would allow it to put lighted astro-turf playing fields [sorry, I meant “outdoor classrooms”] and some buildings between the railroad tracks and the Willamette. Franklin Lewis has the story in the Emerald The city’s very transparent planning website has the proposal details at http://pdd.eugene-or.gov/LandUse/ApplicationDetails?file=WG-18-0002

The city planning office notes:

… Once the application is received, the City will have 30 days to determine whether it is complete. If it is not complete, the applicant can either submit the missing information/materials within 180 days, or tell the City to deem it complete based on what they already provided. Once the application is deemed complete, we will prepare public notice and the public involvement period will begin.

Conditional Use Permits follow a type III review process and will include a public hearing. You can see the basic event flow for this type of review here. Also, this CUP review will be based on meeting the approval criteria specifically for the Riverfront Park Special Area Zone (found at Eugene Code 9.3725). The most effective testimony makes a clear case as to how a project does or does not meet the applicable criteria for approval.

You can get updates by emailing GIOELLO Nick R <[email protected]> and asking to be added to be added to the list of interested parties.

2/14/2018: Campus planning wins award for euphemism of the month

Over 2015-2016 UO hired outside consultants to run what was billed as an inclusive visioning process to work out how UO might grow to accommodate 34K students. Their report is here. The appendix, which includes minutes from many CPC etc. meetings is here.

The gist: UO went through a fairly extensive consulting and public outreach effort, which involved the Senate CPC and many other stakeholders, and which produced an elaborate  “Framework Vision” which concluded UO should not build anything substantial between the tracks and the Willamette, and which includes no mention of floodlights or astroturf (that I can find).

Now, less than two years later, after minimal additional public input, UO is going to the city to get a Conditional Use permit that will allow buildings on 18% of the land between the tracks and the river, astroturf over a large part of the rest, and floodlights.

And they are using the public process from the “Framework Vision”, which opposed building between the tracks and the Willamette, to try and convince the city to give them this permit.

Some excerpts from the Vision:


The 14-month planning process included four work sessions with the Campus Planning Committee and the Advisory Group that the university created for the UOCPFV. The four work sessions addressed

• Scope, Schedule, Products, Principles, Values and Themes, and Ecological and Sustainable Planning

• Analysis, Planning Considerations, Framework

• Refined alternatives

• Final Recommendations The university conducted an on-line survey and held open houses for the campus community and neighbors as well as five public outreach sessions with interested on-campus groups and campus neighbors.

Capacity Findings

• Infill opportunities exist in the established areas of the campus, achievable without compromising the campus’s beauty and function.

• Land north of the railroad tracks is only needed for playing fields. (emphasis added)

• While the university needs some of the area in North Design Area between the railroad tracks and Franklin Boulevard, a large portion of the land is not needed to meet the 34,000 student enrollment. This may offer a significant opportunity to the university for partnerships or as a land bank for unforeseen future program needs.

• Only a minor portion of the Walnut Station area (Romania etc.) is needed; it too offers a significant opportunity.

• Building north of Franklin Boulevard will initially challenge the culture within and among departments; this will be remedied over time as the area develops.

and also

Working with the City of Eugene it may be possible to create a city park at the river’s edge in exchange for city-owned land useful to the university.

And while the maps produced by the consultants are not always internally consistent, most show no buildings between the track and the Willamette:

They do show two large “outdoor classrooms”. Apparently that’s the latest euphemism for “astro-turfed flood-lit athletic field.


2/10/2018: UO wants permission from city for buildings, astro-turf and floodlights between railroad tracks and the Willamette River

That’s a lot of astro-turf. The Eugene Weekly’s Kelly Kenoyer had the story last month here:

The permit plan is a bit vague to allow for future changes to the development, but includes a few buildings near the 6th Avenue bike path and near the Frohnmayer Footbridge, numerous buildings between Franklin Boulevard and the train tracks, and synthetic turf fields lit by floodlights near the footbridge.

I wonder if the proposal is motivated by the 2021 IAAF extravaganza planning. The UO Senate voted against development between the tracks and the river back in 2010 or so, and will host a discussion between the administration’s Mike Harwood and opponents, this Wednesday sometime between 4 and 5PM, in the EMU Crater Lake rooms. Schedule here.

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15 Responses to UO submits Conditional Use Permit to City for North Campus

  1. DWD says:

    Back when this area was zoned as Riverfront Research Park, the University was granted a Conditional Use Permit to build various things. That CUP expired a few years ago, so this current permit is just a renewal of that, with refinement to reflect changed University priorities. (The previous CUP included much more extensive development north of the railroad tracks.) While the EW and other neighbors are focusing on the portion north of the tracks, the CUP actually covers the entire AAA (sorry, CoD) area north of the millrace, as well as the physical plant and other CPFM buildings. So while neighbors fight to keep the riverfront full of Rubus armeniacus and homeless camps, just know they’re holding up pretty much any improvement north of Franklin.

    • uomatters says:

      Come on. I don’t have a dog in this fight, but obviously the administration decided to package what almost everyone wants (development between Franklin and the tracks) with what a (few? some? many? most?) people don’t want – astroturf, floodlights, and buildings between the tracks and the river. So whose fault is it that people are now asking questions about the package?

      • DWD says:

        I have no dog at all, except perhaps that I ride the riverpath and find the conditions in that area atrocious compared to other parts. But I don’t agree with your framing. This CUP replaces the previous one, it doesn’t expand on it. So the administration only decided to package it in the sense that they didn’t explicitly break it apart because one area generated more interest/controversy than another. Frankly, I’m not even sure if they can break it apart. The CUP is a weird animal, since it doesn’t really follow any normal process or procedure. Compare it to Knight Campus for instance, where the land has some zoning and when you want to build on it, you get a permit for that building.

        But assuming that the administration had the choice, why would they break it apart? Presumably, the University senate is not in total agreement on all policy proposals. Do you cut out the controversial parts of the policy and make a whole separate policy? Or do you make some concessions and then pass the whole damn thing, since a policy that only addresses half the topic doesn’t really make sense?

  2. Thedude says:

    There are fields now which are not well maintained that folks play soccer and softball on. AstroTurf I’d a fine addition to actually make the fields usable.

    • Bitty Roy says:

      Did you know that astroturf playing fields reach temperatures up to 160°F in the summer? Or that they can release all kinds of carcinogenic compounds such as phthalates? Or that sports injuries are much higher on them? The bigger picture here, however, is that the artificial turf fields, if really wanted, could go somewhere else. They do not “need” to be on the river.

  3. DWD says:

    Comments on your 2/14 update:

    1.) State land use rules require citizen involvement, not citizen consent. With most land use processes, the opposition tends to be more vocal than the support, since people are far more motivated by fear than by hope. If we only ever built things that no one objected to, we would never build anything at all. This is a reasonable outcome for some in Eugene.

    2.) The arguments in opposition have the typical scattershot quality that seem to be the hallmark of NIMBYs. Do you oppose the plan because of the proposed playing fields or because they propose to build more than the playing fields they ‘promised’? It does not seem logical to hold up a document to support one part of your argument and then to ignore that document when it doesn’t apply to the other part.

  4. Zach V says:

    I bet that is Don Dumond commenting above. Just a guess. UO should just create a super duper unregulated nano toxin to kill and remove birds and droppings from our futuristic sports only riverfront.

  5. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe III says:

    I had always hoped that this area between FRanklin and the river might be developed into something like the River Walk in San Antonio; a mix of university, shops, restaurants, open space, coffee shops, music, theater. Surely one can come up with a more imaginative plan

    • Dogmatic Ratios says:

      These are very different situations. We have a rich riparian ecology around a major natural river, used respectfully as a park. San Antonio took an artificial flood control project in a dense downtown area, and made it do more. It’s like the difference between a wildlife refuge and a nice patio garden. Or, the difference between a living culture and a museum of cultural artifacts.

      • honest Uncle Bernie says:

        Dogmatic — the area in question is UO property. It is not a wildlife refuge, or a park. If somebody wants it to be one of the latter (as I might myself favor), it seems to me they should come up with the dough to offer to UO to purchase the property, at fair market value. The City of Eugene could certainly manage that, if it valued the property so highly as a park or wildlife refuge.

        UO unfortunately has a small campus mostly surrounded by private property. Unfortunately much different from OSU. Much of the charm and beauty of the existing campus has already been damaged, in my estimation. The current piece to be filled in is the site of the Tykeson Center, which looks to be outsized in comparison with its surroundings. What will be next, the grove with the Pioneer Father? I hear some people are not so happy with what he supposedly symbolizes (the patriarchy, violence, Whiteness). Maybe he and the trees nearby will be next. Then there is the lawn between Knight Library and 13th St. But maybe I shouldn’t give them any ideas …..

        Personally, I think the idea of an ever-expanding student body to cover an ever-receding budget is a loser idea, even if it could be pulled off in this era of declining enrollment. But if there is going to be expansion, it has to be somewhere. I don’t think across the river is the worst place.

        • Mike Russo says:

          I agree that developing north of Franklin is preferred to damaging neighborhoods (see my comment below). Personally, higher density along Franklin (close to the University, along a transit route, away from family neighborhoods) meets a number of good planning goals. Look out of Matt Court sometime, through the large windows across Franklin. There are all kinds of low rise developments that could be transformed. But that would require the University and City working together. To date, this has not proven easy to do. On the other hand, getting the Science complex up to groundbreaking so quickly had to involve some interaction with the City, so maybe we can build on that.

  6. Dog says:

    ” … will initially challenge the culture within and among departments”

    what the hell does that mean? Inhabitants of departments
    are too lazy or gutless or inconvenienced to cross Franklin?

    Jesus, doesn’t anyone say what they mean anymore?

    And departments have culture? I can’t find any in our department …

  7. Mike Russo says:

    I have to challenge the comment about extensive outreach, as it implies that that the plan was developed with stakeholder input. I give the UO group credit for meeting with South University Neighbors–but this was after the plan was developed. And wow–when they met with us it became clear that there was virtually no thought given to how jacking up the size of the student body would impact surrounding neighborhoods. Depending on what you define as the surrounding neighborhood (perhaps out to where people generally walk to work), there are hundreds of faculty and staff that would be negatively impacted–perhaps strongly so–by expansion plans. The University must, must, must do a better job of planning for the impacts of any expansion on its environs.

  8. Bitty Roy says:

    The Riverfront is a unique and exceptional piece of property because it is along a river. Riparian zones provide a plethora of ecological services, including clean water, flood control, and habitat. While it is not “pristine” it is considerably less damaged than Delta Ponds were prior to restoration. Putting artificial turf (typically petroleum based) playing fields and bright lights on the riverfront will be a mistake like the Valley River parking lot is and was. The riverfront is used now by hundreds of students in academic classes (including Ecology, Field Biology, Pollination Ecology, and several classes in Geology and Geography). We have an opportunity to create a vision for the riverfront that would make it a centerpiece for sustainability and restoration practices and teaching.

    • Fishwrapper says:

      The best use for any riparian zone is to pave it, provided the pavement looks like grass, and the trees look like natural lighting fixtures. Who are we as a culture if we don’t make improvements upon nature? Think how much better the natural world is when we impose our interpretations upon it, and then be humbled by the image the thought provides…