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Want a Highrise Next to Your Home? No? How About a Pig Farm?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Do you think it is a good idea to give the Department of Housing and Urban Development unchecked power to put an apartment building in your neighborhood? HUD has proposed a new rule that could do just that.

In July, HUD published its long-awaited proposal on “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” in the Federal Register. It is a sweeping set of land-use regulations that has attracted little national attention. The agency wants the power to dismantle local zoning so communities have what it considers the right mix of economic, racial and ethnic diversity. A finding of discriminatory behavior, or allegations of discrimination, would no longer be necessary. HUD will supply “nationally uniform data” of what it thinks 1,200 communities should look like…

HUD and Westchester are battling over local zoning that arose from a 2009 settlement (signed by my predecessor) to build 750 affordable-housing units in 31 mostly white communities. Westchester is well ahead of schedule in meeting these obligations. Almost 400 units have financing and 124 are already occupied. But HUD isn’t satisfied because it wants to control local zoning and remake communities.

–       Robert F. Astorino, The Wall Street Journal

Lane Solutions Replies

So – HUD knows exactly what 1,200 communities should like. And Westchester County, NY, should look just like the other 1,199. And if it doesn’t, HUD, in its bureaucratic wisdom, will withhold $17 million that it had promised to the County to build new sidewalks, playgrounds, and other good stuff in poor communities.

What’s that you say? Westchester is already the fourth most diverse county in New York in terms of Blacks and Hispanics? HUD’s federal monitor found no evidence of exclusionary zoning based on race or ethnicity? HUD doesn’t know what its new rule will cost or if it will work? Why does it matter to Lane County what happens in New York?

It matters because if the Feds can “…dismantle local zoning rules” in Westchester they can do it (and more) in Eugene. Or Creswell.

It matters because if you take money from Washington it can tell you what to do with it. And it can take money from you.

It matters because the Feds think they’re smarter than you. This is rule #1 of Liberalism (oops, we meant “Progressivism”). So they can tell you who should be able to build what next to your house.

Oh, and did we mention that complying with HUD’s new rules will cost Westchester between $3 and $9 million? What could it cost in Eugene?


Ask candidates: ‘Do you support skydiving?’

Monday, October 29, 2012

By Jacob Daniels

As an attorney, I’ve made some general observations: First, attorneys are expensive, and second, prolonged litigation benefits nobody but the attorneys involved.

The City of Creswell is currently fighting a legal battle with Eugene Skydivers on two fronts. First, we are defending a Part 16 Complaint filed with the Federal Aviation Administration. At this point, the City has spent over $100,000.00 of your money to defend this action. Further, at the September City Council meeting we were notified that the Eugene Skydivers have filed a separate lawsuit against the City of Creswell alleging Breach of Contract and demanding $735,000.00 in damages.

You probably already know what this fight is about, but I will break it down for the rest of you.

Basically, Eugene Skydivers want to drop (land) at the airport. On the other hand, the City believes that skydiving at Creswell Airport isn’t safe. Because of the City’s belief that skydiving isn’t safe, the Eugene Skydivers aren’t allowed to drop at the Creswell Airport.

I admit that the thought of skydiving terrifies me and that’s why I’m not a participant.

Nonetheless, skydiving has been carried out in a safe manner at the Creswell Municipal Airport for many years. The skydiving activity is something fun to watch and was a selling point for many who have chosen to move to Creswell.

Further, amidst these tough economic times, I believe that the City of Creswell should be sending a pro-business message rather than an anti-business message. In this case, the City is creating significant roadblocks for a once-profitable small business. After Eugene Skydivers, who is next?

It is my goal for the City to enter discussions with Eugene Skydivers to find common ground and settle this case. I believe that the settlement should contain a provision allowing skydiving activity to resume at the Creswell Airport. But first, we need to elect City leaders willing to support skydiving.

Those who disagree with me will quickly cite the City’s potential liability if somebody were to get hurt skydiving.

Like any other person, I would hate to see an injury and we certainly don’t need another lawsuit. Nonetheless, skydivers sign a waiver before diving and I believe it would be difficult to find the City financially liable if an injury were to occur. Even if the City were found liable the Eugene Skydivers’ Lease Agreement requires them to indemnify the City for any lawsuit.

In my mind we have two options: (1) continue spending tax dollars on lawyers to fight something that most people in Creswell enjoy; or (2) enter a settlement that includes certain safety provisions. So here is my advice to you… the next time a candidate comes to your doorstep ask him/her: “Do you support skydiving at the airport?”

Jacob Daniels is a member of the Creswell City Council. The opinions expressed here are his own and do not represent the views of any other City Councilor, City Employee, or the City of Creswell.

Reprinted with permission from the Creswell Chronicle


Enterprise Zone will spur job growth in Creswell

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

By Jacob Daniels

There are a lot of issues being discussed in Creswell. I think it is safe to say that there has been a lot of debate. It is my opinion that the most important issue facing us is the lack of jobs. Lane County unemployment is currently at 8.5 percent; homes are going into foreclosure; families are struggling to make ends meet; and we are all fearful that things will get worse. Times are tough, but if we take the proper steps things can (and will) get better.

At the May 7, 2012 City Council meeting, City Planner Denise Walters and Community Development Director of Cottage Grove Howard Schsesser proposed a Resolution of Consent to apply for an enterprise zone that includes Cottage Grove, Saginaw, and Creswell.

An enterprise zone attracts businesses by enabling eligible businesses to expand or move into the zone and receive total exemption from property taxes for three to five years. After presentation of the proposal and discussion, City Council voted in favor of the Enterprise Zone (with Councilors A.J. O’Connell and Jane Vincent opposed).

An enterprise zone has the ability to stimulate significant economic growth. A recent example is Prineville, Oregon, where an enterprise zone attracted Facebook to build its first data center. Tom Furlong, director of site operations for Facebook told the Bend Bulletin that “The enterprise zone helped direct us to the community.” Jason Carr, from Economic Development for Central Oregon said: “If the enterprise zone didn’t exist in Prineville, this project would not be moving forward.”

Support for enterprise zones is bipartisan. Governor John Kitzhaber is optimistic that the Central Oregon Enterprise Zone will help rejuvenate the natural resources economy.

The purpose of enterprise zones is clear: incentivize businesses to invest in your community. Attracting businesses to Creswell means more opportunities for employment. More employment opportunities for the people of Creswell is something that we can all support.

I’m optimistic that implementing an enterprise zone in Creswell will help bring businesses to two key areas: the former Bald Knob site and the old Foster Farms plant. These two locations were former sources of employment for a significant number of local workers. Foster Farms employed more than 250 people in 2001 and Bald Knob had more than 120 workers at one point.

As of today, the City Council has approved the Enterprise Zone, the Lane County Board of Commissioners has approved the plan, and now all that remains is State approval. All reports indicate that the State will approve the Enterprise Zone. Approval of the plan will be a huge step forward for Creswell. Nevertheless, we can’t stop there… we must continue to work together as a community to find new ways to make Creswell an even better place to live.

As Creswell’s newest City Councilor, I would like the opportunity to meet with you and discuss issues and solutions. As such, I’ve designated Fridays from 10:00am to 2:00pm as “Councilor Office Hours” at my office located at 285 E. Oregon Avenue. I ask that you call at least 24 hours in advance to set up an appointment. I can be reached at (541) 995-0133.

Reprinted with permission from The Creswell Chronicle. Original article can be viewed at the following link

Jacob Daniels is a local attorney, Creswell City Councilor, and a former member of the Oregon Small Business Advisory Council. The views expressed here are his own.