November 23, 2020

Santa Clara urges LTD to build trust with neighborhoods

LTD General Manager Aurora Jackson at the October 2020 board meeting.

LTD General Manager Aurora Jackson at the October 2020 board meeting.

Santa Clara neighborhood leaders asked LTD to join them in the slow and methodical work of building trust between citizens and public agencies.

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Scheduling an LTD board vote in October to declare the former Santa Clara elementary school site as surplus property “breached every tenet of trust-building,” said community organization chairperson Kate Perle.

Long-time Santa Clara resident Jeff Parker noted that the neighborhood has worked hard to reverse a long-standing culture of distrust, and LTD’s proposal to dispose of the surplus property did not help.

“Many residents in this neighborhood were shocked to find that this was on the agenda,” Jeff said.

The former school site is integral to the Santa Clara and River Road neighborhoods’ long-term planning, and the neighborhoods should have been informed, they said.

Moving forward without any advance notice or consultation with the neighborhood “is the height of hubris and by all accounts a poor choice on your part,” Kate said.

LTD General Manager Aurora Jackson and the LTD board moved quickly to respond. Board member Steven Yett suggested postponing the vote, giving LTD time to engage with the neighborhood.

Santa Clara resident Patrick Kerr thanked the board for “taking the time to acknowledge the Hunsaker property and the implications that it has…It is a gem of a location.”

Southeast Neighbors has also been critical of LTD for failing to engage neighborhoods in its long-term planning. LTD shocked South Eugene neighborhoods last November with its Transit Tomorrow plan, which would eliminate most outlying neighborhood routes.

The Southeast Neighbors board signed a letter in October asking LTD for greater collaboration with neighborhoods.