Council weighs in on Municipal Court Report, unhoused, infrastructure
November 22 - The City of Cottage Grove and Lane County Public Works are working together to annex six sections of road right-of-ways, which total approximately a mile and half combined. City Planner Eric Mongan gave some background at a Nov. 14 city council meeting. He described the purpose of the annexations, which would “initiate the process that allows the City to obtain jurisdiction for the roads by requesting their surrender from Lane County” according to a City memorandum.
The roads in question are Sweet Lane, County Road from Highway 99 West to Blue Sky Drive. Cottage Grove-Lorane Road (West Main Street), near the intersection of South R Street. Cottage Grove-Lorane Road (West Main Street), abutting the Urban Growth Boundary. And Thornton/Airport Road, the area at the north end that includes the turnaround area.
Two additional sections within city limits, North Douglas Street from Pennoyer Avenue to the Cottage Connector and North Lane Street from Thayer Ave to Highway 99, both of which have been maintained by the City for many years. The drafted Resolution presented to Council would adopt the official request to the Board of Commission of Lane County as recommended by Cit officials.
Councilor Mike Fleck moved to adopt the request, which was seconded by Councilor Kenneth Roberts. When Councilor Greg Ervin raised questions over the purpose of the annexations and what the conditions of the roads were, Public Works Director Faye Stewart explained that the request had been made two years ago, and that’s when the city started the process.
Stewart further noted that, “If the city leaves it in county ownership, the city will be building that intersection to county standards. … It's in the city's best interest to build the intersection to city standards and not have to do it again. If we were to build it to county standards, and then, someday it comes into the city jurisdiction, then we have to be bringing it up to city standards.”
Councilor Chalice Savage's question pertained to who would be responsible for putting in the sidewalks for the stretches of road where sidewalks are missing. Stewart's response was that generally the city will do a capital improvement project, unless it receives a grant like the “Safe Routes to Schools” and it will pay for the sidewalks.
Generally, in the capital program and in the case of these roads, Stewart revealed that “the property owner that's adjacent who decided to upgrade that road will be responsible unless council directs us to do something different under city code with the adjoining property, to pay for the sidewalk.”
There was no further discussion and Resolution 2082 passed unanimously after City Recorder Mindy Roberts called the roll.
2022 Municipal Court Report
An annual report written by Municipal Court Judge Martin Fisher was brought to the attention of Council. He specified two key items of interest in the Municipal Court Report. The first is in what he sees as “a return to some historic norms of certain levels of crime that had really fallen off over the last couple of years.”
Fisher stated, “DUI’s are up still, even though they're down from last year. They're still significantly high over a four year period. … We see a large spike in the criminal trespass category, where it's tripled from the past couple years.”
He also acknowledged that there were “75 criminal trespass cases, but that doesn't mean 75 people. There are probably 15 people who account for almost all of that. And so it's the same people.”
Despite the numbers, “Given the general, still low levels of people appearing on first offenses, it's still manageable,” Fisher said. “Our average docket for people who are charged with new offenses are between five and seven people; [of those], three are showing up. So at the moment, the defense attorney is capable of handling all that and it isn't bogging down the work too much. A lot of those people end up showing up later.”
In terms of jury trials, that the City of Cottage Grove has “not had a jury trial in at least five years.” But coincidentally, after Fisher wrote the report, the city ended up scheduling a trial for January 2023, and he believes there is a high likelihood that it will go.
In Councilor Greg Ervin’s comments, he wondered how council can make directional changes to better facilitate the city’s justice system for mental health crisis assessments to those with cognitive challenges that appear before the Court.
Fisher stated that “The criteria are very complicated and requires hiring an evaluator. If they're able to answer [simple] questions in a way that suggests they understand who's doing what, they're not eligible to be committed to the state hospital.”
He said that in recent years, Cottage Grove has only sent a handful of people there.
Councilor Jon Stinnett asked Fisher what he thought a conversation would look like for those agencies that he would bring to the table to address concerns of a revolving door for those that need mental health treatment.
Fisher answered that the process would “start with finding a mental health issue provider who could participate. Because if you don't have a place to send them, then there isn't anything to talk about. If we found one, then it would require the participation of the court and the police, who would have to be very involved in identifying people and helping steer them.” He concluded that “there are other community based resources here that could step in and offer some input” as well.
The full report can be accessed from www.cottagegroveor.gov/citycouncil/page/city-council-meeting-365.
Management Plan for Unhoused in Public Lands
As an update, City Manager Richard Meyers gave an overview of a management plan for unhoused individuals living on city streets. He said city staff sees an opportunity to make adjustments to the Park Exclusion provision, up for council consideration at the Dec. 12 meeting.
Meyers shared, “All of the properties in city parks have been cleared and will be cleared tomorrow of all of the items, and we have the individuals staying in their first overflow site field warming shelter site on 12th Street. That's where everyone's at right now. And we'll continue to move people into that site. And if that starts getting close to full or full, then we'll move to the Douglas site, but we have plenty of room still there.”
He added, “All enforcement of park hours [has begun] as well. So parking will not be allowed in any of the other parks. And camping in the other parks, if people are there, they can actually be asked to move and move on from those locations.”
He said the council now has time to “look at the information and understand what we're doing in the ordinance and resolution and how that works. It's also good for us to kind of run this through the administrative process and see what rules are what things we might need to adjust and change as we go forth. Making sure that we're allowing a place to sleep, but we're making sure that they're following other rules as well.”
Other business from the meeting included an update on Cottage Grove Water Reclamation Facility. Construction is underway and its completion is expected by January 2023.
Additionally, Mongan alerted the council to 13 open positions on the Planning Commission, Historic Preservation Commission, Urban Forestry Committee and the City’s Budget Committee. Council will appoint three subcommittees to interview applicants applying for the positions.
Also, Cottage Grove City Council evaluated the agreement with City Manager Richard Meyers, who has been serving in his position since Oct. 6, 1997.
The Council gave Meyers an overall value of “excellent/good,” and Mayor Jeff Gowing recommended that the City Manager receive a 4.9% raise for cost of living adjustments, amending his base salary to $151,894 plus allowances.