Chris Wig, Ward 1 Candidate Answers to WE CAN questions

See the other candidate's answers to these questions.

1. Eugene residents, in large numbers, have expressed support for more walkable neighborhoods.  What does a walkable neighborhood mean to you, and how would you seek to bring about more walkable neighborhoods in Ward 1 and the rest of the city?

A walkable neighborhood has sidewalks, and streets that can accommodate both cars and bicycles. A neighborhood also needs to have access to local businesses such as markets/grocers, restaurants and parks. I strongly support efforts to design our streets to be truly walkable (or rollable) and friendly to people of all ages and abilities.

As a City Councilor representing Ward 1, if elected I would be accountable to the voters in Ward 1 but also would help make decisions for Eugene as a whole. I would work with our city’s public works staff to ensure we are placing adequate crosswalks and designing streets to address the goal of walkable neighborhoods throughout Eugene as a whole.

2. What are the biggest challenges to people on foot in Eugene? How would you address these challenges?

Eugene has been largely built around cars and bicycles. We have done an excellent job adding bike lanes and paths to many of our streets, but we still have areas without proper sidewalks and streets that are difficult to cross. In addition, there are several areas where stoplights have been prioritized for vehicle traffic, forcing pedestrians to wait multiple light cycles to cross. I want to work with Eugene’s traffic engineers to better address these issues, and to secure federal grant funding for bicycle and pedestrian improvements throughout the city. Long term, we need to look for better solutions to fund road maintenance and improvements, including funding pedestrian improvements.

3. Given the current economic climate, families in Eugene are struggling more and more with housing affordability. What is the most important thing we can do to ensure affordable housing in Eugene?

I strongly believe the most pressing concern in Eugene is the lack of available and affordable housing. While this affects a wide range of community members, it most acutely affects the unhoused, underhoused and rent-burdened residents of our city. The most important thing we can do to ensure affordable housing is to increase supply by building multi-unit housing that fit the scale and character of our neighborhoods. We must acknowledge that the City has limited planning and economic development tools to incentivize development consistent with our values, including fast tracking projects, tax exemptions (MUPTE), reducing fees and urban renewal funds. Planning decisions in Eugene are controversial. To make density work, we will have to build new coalitions and offer incentives on a project-by-project basis. I am a skilled communicator and proven coalition builder, and I believe I’m the candidate who is up to the task.

4. Many people identify the Capstone apartments as the type of development they do NOT want to see more of in Eugene. Can you give an example of a development that IS what we want more of in Eugene?

The Capstone apartments were built to address a need for additional student housing and brought more residents to the urban core, but the scale and construction of the buildings themselves are not consistent with the values we want to see in new development.

There are many projects in Eugene that have increased density while respecting the character and aesthetic of local neighborhoods and the values of the community. Smaller projects, including the new apartments on Friendly Street, are a great example. When it comes to affordable housing, Cornerstone’s Willakenzie Crossing is an excellent example. These buildings provide affordable housing and were constructed to last. They offer the desired density and LEED certification, while also having the resources to help residents with families.

5. Eugene is projected to add 34,000 new residents over the next 20 years. How do you propose that we accommodate this growth?

As councilor, I will fight to prevent sprawl by advocating for policies that incentivize compact urban development and the construction of multi-unit housing along key transit corridors.

Balancing our need for increased density with our desire to protect the character of existing neighborhoods will require political acumen and communication skills to build trust between city staff and neighbors. I believe leadership means bringing stakeholders to the table and facilitating compromise so everyone can get to ‘yes.’ As DPLC Chair, I’ve proven I can successfully navigate competing coalition partners and resolve disagreements so we can get back to working together.

In order to address concerns about incompatibility between existing R-1 neighborhoods and new higher density development we must rethink how we communicate planning decisions to affected neighbors and be willing to adapt to residents’ salient concerns and provide new development that fits the form and scale of the neighborhood in which it is located.

I strongly support community benefits agreements (CBAs) as a means to ensure new development serves the needs of community members in addition to creating profit for developers. I am committed to supporting (CBAs) that incentivize developers to hire local workers, contractors and subcontractors; pay workers prevailing wages; enforce the highest health and safety standards during construction; enhance energy efficiency; and create mixed income housing opportunities. CBAs are legally binding, and I would enforce these standards both by using the bully pulpit—praising responsible developers and calling out bad actors—and through clawback provisions written into the CBA itself.

6. Eugene has a population with a lot of different points of view. What do you see as your role into building an atmosphere of trust and open dialog?

It’s important to listen to and collaborate with neighborhood advocates working in good faith around issues such as siteing and community impact, and I think the City has failed to adequately inform residents and solicit their input on high-profile projects, such as the proposed South Willamette Special Area Zone and development at Kesey Square. From my experience working with legislators like Lee Beyer and Phil Barnhart, I am prepared to set a higher standard regarding constituent work. For example, I have committed to host regular constituent outreach events (town hall meetings, constituent coffees, etc.) to provide information and solicit feedback once I am elected.

In short, we need to listen, we need to build, we need to build a lot and we need to build soon.