Article Written by: Suzanne Penegor
Eugene developer Hugh Prichard is a man on a mission. He addressed the Rubicon Society of Lane County on Mar. 26th about the onerous building codes in Eugene which currently encourage developers and investors to go elsewhere to build; he went on to say, this is why downtown Eugene is in such a poor state of being. Prichard told the Rubicon Society that the current city council as well as the staff with their anti-growth policies have created a downtown that is no longer economically vibrant. “Urban Renewal” and Government intervention has stunted its growth.
The irony of the Eugene building codes, Prichard noted, is that government policies intended to improve downtown Eugene have done exactly the opposite. The codes dictate the number of parking spaces new buildings can have downtown and that is limiting for builders and developers who can find more lenient regulations outside the downtown core.
For example, the US Bank building in downtown Eugene, which is 8 stories high and was built in the 1990s, and is the second tallest commercial building in Eugene, couldn’t even get a building permit under today’s building codes created by the Eugene City Council because of special requirements which need to be met first hand by the builder.
Prichard has brought these issues to the public forum by recently writing a guest editorial in the local Register-Guard newspaper, and hopes to spur dramatic changes in codes. Prichard said the Eugene planning commission will review its building codes in April.
Prichard went on to note all that has been built in downtown Eugene since 2001 is the public library–at taxpayer expense–and affordable housing, both of which are subsided by tax dollars. Building projects are virtually non existent because of the hoops the city places on the builders. Measure 37 helped take some pressure off and overrode the stringent city housing building codes before it was overturned.
Other cities such as Corvallis are more realistic about their building codes and allow riverside development for example, which is prime real estate. Eugene strict codes, which he called the “Go Build It in Gateway” policy, don’t address the economic concerns and stunt any and all growth.
It was also noted that business people in Eugene have become intimidated by the city council process because it is abusive to business people who speak out publicly.
Prichard has been actively campaigning for people to come and Testify to the Council regarding these concerns and placed an open invitation for anyone to come out and support the effort.
To hear more about this, and Prichard’s commentary on the issue, please visit www.rubiconsociety.org.