River Road-Santa Clara Neighborhood Plan Adopted in Eugene After Years of Community Involvement

The city of Eugene and Lane County have adopted the River Road-Santa Clara Neighborhood Plan, a long-range policy document guiding land use and development. The plan's adoption follows over a decade of community outreach, planning, and evaluation, and prioritizes walkable neighborhoods and pedestrian-centric design.

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River Road-Santa Clara Neighborhood Plan Adopted in Eugene After Years of Community Involvement

River Road-Santa Clara Neighborhood Plan Adopted in Eugene After Years of Community Involvement

The city of Eugene and Lane County have adopted the River Road-Santa Clara Neighborhood Plan, a long-range policy document that establishes a framework for land use and development in the area. The adoption comes after over a decade of community outreach, planning, and evaluation.

Why this matters: This plan's adoption sets a precedent for community-driven development and sustainable urban planning, which can serve as a model for other cities and counties. By prioritizing walkable neighborhoods and pedestrian-centric design, the plan also contributes to a broader effort to reduce carbon emissions and promote environmentally friendly growth.

The plan covers approximately 4,100 acres of land, including the Santa Clara neighborhood (2,400 acres) and the River Road community (1,700 acres). It was developed through a six-phase process involving extensive community outreach, feedback, and collaboration. The plan aims to promote walkable neighborhoods, pedestrian-centric design, and a shift away from auto-oriented land uses, aligning with city-wide climate and transportation goals.

The process began in 2011 when the River Road Community Organization and the Santa Clara Community Organization formed the Santa Clara-River Road Outreach and Learning project to identify priorities for future development. In 2017, the six-phase planning and adoption process started, involving outreach, visioning, policy development, and action planning. The Eugene City Council approved the draft goals and policies in 2019.

In 2021, the City Council and Lane County Board of Commissioners directed the project team to prepare a plan adoption package. City staff refined neighborhood-specific land use codes applicable to properties within city limits in 2022. Code amendments were approved by the Community Advisory Committee for public feedback in 2023.

The final public hearing was held jointly between the Eugene City Council and the Lane County Board of Commissioners in 2024, leading to the adoption of the plan and code amendments. Principal Planner Terri Harding said, "It feels really good to be at a place where we're poised to adopt the neighborhood plan, but that's not the end – that's kind of the beginning of implementation."

Ward 7 Councilor Lyndsie Leech acknowledged the long process, stating, "I know we can hear, probably a collective sigh of relief all down this whole corridor after all these years of work on this plan and having to pivot so many times with all of the different state codes that have come along." Kate Perle, chair of the Santa Clara Neighborhood Organization, emphasized the importance of proactive planning, saying, "Change will come. The choice is to wait and react to changes or to take a leading step in guiding how growth and development is going to change our community for the future."

Moving forward, the city hopes to implement an annual collaborative conversation with the two neighborhood organizations to ensure ongoing communication and collaboration. New projects are already in the works to provide more amenities to the River Road-Santa Clara area, including the new Santa Clara Community Park. The neighborhoods will continue to lead the decision-making process, guiding growth and development in the area.

Key Takeaways

  • Eugene and Lane County adopt River Road-Santa Clara Neighborhood Plan after 13-year process.
  • Plan prioritizes walkable neighborhoods, pedestrian-centric design, and sustainable growth.
  • 4,100-acre plan covers Santa Clara and River Road communities, promoting climate-friendly development.
  • Community-driven process involved 6 phases, extensive outreach, and collaboration.
  • Plan sets precedent for sustainable urban planning, serving as a model for other cities and counties.