Eugene, Oregon

Park sitesSome metropolitan regions in the United States employ urban growth boundaries (UGBs) to control growth and development. In the State of Oregon, the law requires that each city or metropolitan area have a UGB in place). The boundary controls urban expansion so that only prescribed areas for urban services (roads, water, sewer, parks, schools, emergency response, enforcement) are inside the boundary and areas determined to remain farms or natural open space are outside the boundary. The intent of the UGB is to stem urban sprawl and increase land use efficiency. 

The Santa Clara neighborhood in Eugene, Oregon, makes up the northwest portion of the city. Eugene's UGB serves as part of the boundary of the Santa Clara community. A municipal report, River Road/Santa Clara Urban Services Report, showed Santa Clara was underserved by parks and recreational open space. Therefore, in 1998, Eugene governing officials allocated a portion of the $25 million dollar bond approved by Eugene citizens to fund acquisition of property for a future community park in Santa Clara. After the bond passed, parks and open space staff analyzed a number of sites to locate the pIark. However, the most promising sites were on the opposite side of Eugene's UGB from the Santa Clara neighborhood.

Community meetingThe City of Eugene and Mayor Jim Torrey received a Catalyst Grant from the American Planning Association's City Parks Forum in 2002. The grant was intended to support a planning process towards the acquisition of a large community park for the Santa Clara neighborhood. The specific proposal included an expansion of the UGB for compact urban development that included a significant parks and open space component. The planning process included an economic analysis of the proposal and a significant community engagement process. The proposed UGB expansion formed the heart of the public debate, with loss of farmland and an expanded urban infrastructure being prime concerns. Despite the 1998 parks and open space bond passage, a 2005 community survey showed the community split down the middle between those that supported the park proposal, and associated UGB expansion, and those that opposed a UGB expansion for any reason. Although the process did not result in the acquisition of parkland, it did engage the community in a dialogue of planning issues that informs Eugene parks and open space planning efforts today.

The City of Eugene has since embarked on a new discussion with area residents to look at unique and alternative solutions for park services in the Santa Clara neighborhood. These discussions have resulted in efforts to build partnerships with other recreation service providers such as the school district and the YMCA. Additional funds have been secured for the purchase of land for a community park and acquisition efforts are currently focused on two large undeveloped parcels adjacent to an existing middle school. If successful in obtaining these parcels, the city and school district will work in partnership to develop shared facilities and maximize the land available for public recreation.


Carolyn Weiss
Parks and Open Space Planning Manager
Parks and Open Space Division
1820 Roosevelt Boulevard
Eugene, OR 97402
(P) 541-682-4800

Images: Top — Park sites. Source: City of Eugene. Bottom — Community meeting. Source: City of Eugene.