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Eugene Mayor Vinis shares vision for 2022 in annual State of the City speech

Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis gives annual State of the City speech virtually on Jan. 5.
City of Eugene
Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis gives annual State of the City speech virtually on Jan. 5.

Homelessness, climate change, and equity were the major talking points in Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis’ State of the City speech Wednesday.

Acknowledging yet another year of going virtual, Vinis expressed gratitude for the community's efforts in meeting 2021’s challenges.

“These Eugenians - who have shown up despite all the challenges of the last two years - are the backbone and the heart of this city,” Vinis said. “Thank you, again, for all of your perseverance and your many contributions.

Vinis said the pandemic has shifted the city’s response to issues like homelessness. The crisis revealed the extent of homelessness in the city and those at risk of becoming homeless, she said.

“I liken the City to an emergency room. We respond to the homelessness emergency that is in our midst. But the long-term solution does not rest in sleep sites—in the emergency response—it rests in a much larger hospital of services that support recovery,” she said.

Vinis said the city plans to address homelessness by continuing to support nonprofit providers, investing in mental health services, drug treatment, and public safety. She added supporting providers like Community Supported Shelters enables them to pay and supervise their teams as well as offer them adequate wages trainings.

As for climate change, Vinis said they’re looking at increasing housing density and electrification. She pointed to the required implementation of House Bill 2001 this year.

“Understandably, there is a lot of energy and tension around the proposed code changes and how existing neighborhoods might be affected,” Vinis said.

“However, we cannot talk about climate change without talking about the housing forms we allow. We cannot talk about equity or address the housing shortage without increasing the quantity and diversity of the housing we have.”

With the building of new housing, Vinis mentioned the city’s Climate Action Plan 2.0 and how it might factor into new developments.

"The Climate Action Plan 2.0 sets our course and requires us to change business as usual," she said. "The city prepares the landscape for that transformation with investments in transportation, land use policies, and building codes. We promote community participation in waste prevention, energy efficiency and alternatives to cars. But none of the big changes will come easily."

Lastly, Vinis said racial justice and equity is another priority for 2022. She noted the increase in hate and bias crime targeting Black and Asian Americans.

“Everyone does not feel safe in this community, that message came through loud and clear in 2020, and in the discussions and final report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Police Policies in 2021,” Vinis said.

Vinis said the city has been looking at alternatives to armed policing but acknowledged police play a critical role in responding to crime. She adds the city aims to shift away from the “racist trajectory” of its past.

“Although the acronym “BIPOC” has come to be a shorthand for acknowledging the communities that experience inequity in Eugene and elsewhere, the specific stories of Black American descendants of slavery; Indigenous people who were dispossessed of their land in North America; and immigrants from all parts of the world represented as “People of Color,” each have unique and distinctive stories and losses,” she said.

In the closing of her speech, Vinis pointed to the upcoming World Athletic Championship in July as an opportunity to showcase how the city is transforming itself to reach its goals.

‘It will be our time, at last, to demonstrate to the world our capacity for facing the transformative challenges of our era – to model solutions to homelessness, to lead in responding to climate change, and to honor and celebrate the many communities within our community,” she said.

Copyright 2022 KLCC

Eugene State of the City 2022

Eugene State of the City 2022

Copyright 2022 KLCC