Council Chamber—777 Pearl Street
September 14, 2010
7 p.m.
APPROVED 11-2-2010

Eugene City Council:  Alan Zelenka, Mike Clark, Betty Taylor, Andrea Ortiz, Jennifer Solomon, George Poling, Chris Pryor, George Brown.
Board of County Commissioners:  Rob Handy, Peter Sorenson, Bill Fleenor.

Eugene City Council:  Jennifer Solomon.
Board of County Commissioners:  Bill Dwyer, Faye Stewart.

Her Honor Mayor Kitty Piercy called the September 14, 2010, public hearing of the Eugene City Council to order.

Board Vice Chair Rob Handy convened the September 14, 2010, meeting of the Board of County Commissioners and opened the public hearing.  He noted that Commissioner Bill Fleenor was participating via speakerphone, and commissioners Dwyer and Stewart were excused.

An Ordinance Adopting an Updated Eugene Airport Master Plan, a Refinement Plan of the Eugene-Springfield Metropolitan Area General Plan (Metro Plan); Adopting a Severability Clause; and Providing an Effective Date (City File RA 10-1, Lane County File PA 10-5248)

Airport Director Tim Doll, Katherine Stevens, Dan Durazo of the Eugene Airport, Gabe Flock, Steve Nystrom, and Kurt Yeiter of the Planning and Development Department, and City Attorney Emily Jerome were present on behalf of Eugene.  Lane County Administrator Jeff Sparz, County Counsel Stephen Voorhees, Planning Division Manager Kent Howe, and Planner Stephanie Schulz of the Lane Land Management Division were present on behalf of Lane County.  Project Consultant Damon Smith was also present.

Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz introduced the topic.  He said the joint elected officials of Eugene and Lane County were considering the adoption of an updated Eugene Airport Master Plan as an amendment to the Metro Plan.

Mr. Doll reviewed the request before the joint elected officials, which was more fully described in the Agenda Item Summary and supporting materials provided to the council and board.  He briefly noted the public input associated with the plan, which included a stakeholder group that met six times and four general public meetings.  Mr. Doll reported that the joint planning commissions of Lane County and Eugene held a hearing on the plan and forwarded it without changes and with a positive recommendation.

Mr. Doll emphasized that the Eugene Airport was a major economic driver for the region.  The Oregon Department of Aviation indicated the airport was directly or indirectly responsible for 4,000 jobs and contributed about $332 million to the economy annually.  The airport had recently completed two projects that provided $13 million in construction work.  The fire station project alone had created 56 construction jobs.

Mr. Doll recommended that the plan be adopted prior to the end of the federal fiscal year so the airport could close out its federal grant.

Mayor Piercy noted that the joint adoption process was necessitated by the airport’s location, which was within the jurisdiction of both bodies.  She called for public testimony.

Commissioner Handy read the title of Lane County’s Ordinance PA 12-73 into the record.

There being no requests to speak, Mayor Piercy closed the hearing on behalf of Eugene.  Commissioner Handy closed the hearing on behalf of Lane County.

Councilor Poling determined from City Attorney Jerome that he likely had no conflict in regard to the matter due to his employment with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), but she would research the issue further before the council took action.

Mayor Piercy asked if the advisory committee had discussed carbon emission reductions.  Mr. Smith reported that there committee members had general concerns about reducing the airport’s carbon footprint.  However, the committee was not concerned that the specific projects in the plan would result in carbon emissions of any significant impact.  Mr. Doll said that airport projects were built to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards and the airport worked with the airlines to reduce their carbon footprint.

Mayor Piercy acknowledged the new fire station at the airport was a green building with a positive impact.  She did not raise the subject to suggest there was a fault in the master plan, but to express her hope that staff thought of the issue in general when considering airport management concerns.  Mr. Doll said the airport staff was concerned about the environment and kept it in mind in regard to all its improvement projects.

Councilor Brown requested definitions of some of the terms in the master plan, and determined from Mr. Doll that “airport operations” referred to plane take offs and landings; that “base airport” ranged from small private planes to jets that were stationed at the airport; the acronym “GA” referred to general aviation and referred to any nonmilitary aircraft; that the reference to 75 peak hour operations referred to 75 take offs and landings in an hour.

Councilor Brown noted concerns voiced by planning commissioners about the percentage increase in parking projected at a time when the population was not projected to increase by the same percentage.  He shared those concerns.  Mr. Doll responded that parking demand was determined by passenger projections and were also related to peak travel periods, such as holidays.  He did not know when the new parking would be constructed because it would be related to increased demand.  Councilor Brown hoped that the new parking would be structured parking.

Councilor Brown determined from Mr. Doll that the airport was required by the federal government to protect airspace for safety reasons and the scope of the protected space was defined by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Councilor Brown expressed concern about the lack of reference in the plan to public transportation.  Mr. Doll said staff had talked to Lane Transit District (LTD) and learned that the agency had no plans to serve the airport.  He said staff would continue to work with LTD to try to make that happen.  Councilor Brown wanted to have buses serve the airport again and suggested the service should be better advertised to the public.

Councilor Brown recalled that the airport was evaluated for seismic risk shortly after its construction and received a poor rating.  He proposed that the City hire a consultant to do a more detailed and current seismic examination of the airport and suggested the City seek grant funds from the federal government to pay for it.

Councilor Zelenka discussed what Alaska Airlines was doing to reduce its carbon footprint, which included reducing the flight path to be more of a glide, which reduced fuel consumption.  He asked how such an approach worked within the airport’s airspace.  He also asked how the use of bio jet fuels affected the airport’s fuel farm retrofit capability.  Mr. Doll said the new approaches allowed airlines to save fuel and would not affect the airport’s approach surfaces because once they reached the approach surface they were in landing configuration.  Regarding bio fuels, Mr. Doll said that many airlines were looking at alternative fuels.  Eugene was trying to get into a consortium formed by Portland and Seattle to purchase alternative fuels.  Councilor Zelenka encouraged the airport to join the consortium.

Councilor Zelenka determined from Mr. Doll that the projected passenger increase was based on the airport as a regional airport and was generated using a model developed by the consultant.  He noted the growth the airport had been experiencing in recent months.

Councilor Zelenka said the plan included a map with red hash areas identified as potential future land acquisitions at the end of the runway at the north, terminal parking lot area to the south, and what appeared to be the Fiddlers Green property.  He determined from Mr. Doll that the properties in question would be purchased as they became available, and asked the rationale.  Mr. Doll said the properties in question were part of the Runway Protection Zone required by the FAA, which recommended the airport purchase and own the lands because it became easier to protect those lands.  He said the FAA did not recommend doing anything at this time unless the property owners wished to sell.  The property by the cargo expansion area would be used for future development to support aviation services at the airport.  Councilor Zelenka asked the potential of the northern parcels being required in the near term.  Mr. Doll said there was no potential.  As long as the airport was certain that the properties would not be developed inappropriately, there was no need to act.

Councilor Zelenka asked if the terminal expansion extended to the northeast.  Mr. Doll said yes, and the airport already owned that land, which currently contained some vacant buildings and one building in use for landscape maintenance.  He confirmed terminal expansion would be triggered by an increase in enplanements.  He anticipated the expansion could be needed by 2020.

Councilor Zelenka agreed that public transportation was a good idea but also noted the existence of the Airport Shuttle, which was cheaper for those parking for more than a week.

Councilor Zelenka commended the installation of native plants near the airport walkways and said they looked great.  He also noted the picture on page 5 of the plan showed the new waiting area, and commended the fact that every seat had its own plug and that the area was a nice space.  He said the airport seemed well-run and the facility seemed to be well-maintained.  He thought the community should be proud of the airport, which was a tremendous regional asset.  He thanked Mr. Doll for his work.

Mayor Piercy said she had occasion to travel to other communities and saw their airports and found the Eugene Airport to be a beautifully done “gem” and as well as a good experience.  She and her guests appreciated the facility.

Responding to a question from Commissioner Sorenson about the County’s involvement in the process, Mr. Flock said the County’s criteria for approval was consistency with statewide planning goals and the Metro Plan.

Commissioner Sorenson referred to the land required for parking and asked if there were alternatives to the parking proposed in the plan.  Mr. Doll said the plan showed the need for additional parking on land already owned by the airport.  Staff would analyze the parking need and determine the best location.  The parking would be phased.  Staff would analyze all options for parking, which included a parking structure.  He believed the location was ideal for parking.

Commissioner Sorenson asked what efforts were made to minimize parking.  He cited the shuttle service as an example of an alternative to parking.  He requested data from comparable airports facing similar parking problems to determine if the community should have a dedicated shuttle bus to take people to and from the “hot spots” of usage, such as the University of Oregon.  Mr. Doll said that each airport was unique in how they handled parking.  Such a service must be profitable to the provider.  It would not be an airport-provided shuttle.  Commissioner Sorenson asked why not.  Mr. Doll said generally such airport-provided shuttles were for on-site transportation and private companies provided off-site shuttles.  Commissioner Sorenson wanted to know such a shuttle would be profitable for LTD, and if not, what were the sources of funding to subsidize a shuttle so the airport did not have to build additional parking.  Mr. Doll said he would research the question.

Commissioner Sorenson asked if the master plan would increase or decrease the amount of carbon produced.  Mr. Smith said that had not been analyzed.  Emissions could increase if one assumed that future cars and planes would generate fewer emissions but more people boarded planes.  However, there were plans underway to reduce carbon emissions.  Commissioner Sorenson asked how expanding the parking or number of flights leaving and coming to the airport satisfied State Goal 13, Energy Conservation.  Mr. Smith said that passengers could chose to flying out of either Eugene or Portland and those going to Portland produced more emissions, while local flights reduced car emissions.  Commissioner Sorenson suggested there were greater emissions per mile for planes versus automobiles.  Mr. Smith suggested the answer depended on the style of aircraft.

Commissioner Sorenson asked if the City’s Sustainability Commission had reviewed the plan and if not, could the commission review the plan.  Mr. Flock said the review was not required but could be done.

Mayor Piercy said the Sustainability and Planning commissions were beginning to meet jointly and would have an opportunity to review such plans in the future.

Commissioner Sorenson asked if there were any public safety craft projected in the future of the airport.  Mr. Doll said the Civil Air Patrol was located at the airport now.  The airport would work with any agency that wanted to use the facility.  The Lane County Sheriff’s Office and United States National Guard had not approached the airport, and he did not know where they located their planes.

Commissioner Sorenson requested data on the growth projections so the elected officials could see the assumptions behind them.  Mr. Smith described how the projections were arrived at and indicated the numbers were reviewed with the FAA and the FAA concurred with the forecast.  The percentages applied were clearly documented.

Commissioner Sorenson asked when a 20-year plan started in 2006 had to be approved.  Mr. Doll said Eugene needed to close out its FAA grant by the end of the federal fiscal year, September 2010.  As far as the FAA was concerned the plan was complete.  Commissioner Sorenson asked if the airport had a letter from the Department of Land Conservation and Development stating that the plan met its criteria.  Ms. Jerome said the department had been silent thus far, implying that the plan met its criteria.

Commissioner Handy averred that the world had really changed and people had learned a lot about some of the assumptions behind planning efforts.  More was known about issues such as the price of fuel and greenhouse gas reductions.  He asked what opportunities the board had to “tweak” the plan to address some of those emerging issues if had to be approved by the end of the month.  Mr. Doll said the master plan was merely a planning document and no project in the plan was guaranteed to be constructed.  Staff analyzed each project before it was constructed to ensure it made sense, and any project involving federal funding had to receive federal approval.  Airport staff also submitted its capital projects to the Budget Committee each year, which was another arena for review.

Mr. Smith said it was common that an airport master plan was updated every eight to ten years even if designed for a 20-year period.  It was also common such plans generated additional planning processes specific to the projects proposed.  As issues emerged, they could be considered through a focused process and incorporated into the master plan or could stand on their own.  Mr. Doll anticipated another master plan revision process would begin in 2016.

Commissioner Handy suggested it was a role of government to incentivize outcomes that elected officials preferred to see society move toward and disincentivize others.  He suggested a question to consider was how to “right-size” a project to work for the community and the community’s partners.  He cited the Beltline as an example, suggesting that if there was congestion for four hours of a 24 hour day, the answer might be both expanded capacity and other strategies.  He suggested that if the challenge in providing parking was in the morning, it would be interesting to know what other communities were doing to address that.

Responding to a question from Commissioner Handy about the source of funding for projects, Mr. Doll said the capital improvement program was funded by a combination of passenger facility charges, FAA grants, and local airport revenues that could only be used for operation and development of the airport.  The FAA was fairly specific about what the airport could do; it had to be able to accommodate passengers and plan for peak periods.  He said that issue was not specific to just the morning rush, but to holidays as well when airport parking lots were full for weeks at time.  He said the airport did not want to have a lot of parking out front and would work to phase it in when needed.  The airport was already doing what other airports were doing.  It had a shared ride service and taxicabs.  Some larger airports have train service, but Eugene not big enough to support train service.  He said that the airport would continue to work with LTD to return bus service to the airport.

Councilor Ortiz recalled that Police Department used an overflow parking lot for training exercises, and determined from Mr. Doll that the airport could continue to accommodate that use during non-peak times, but he anticipated less opportunity over time.

Mayor Piercy observed that the airport was a regional facility that needed to accommodate those who traveled some distance to use the airport, not just local Lane County residents.

Commissioner Fleenor asked what provisions the airport had to promote or restrict private “park and fly” operations between the airport and Eugene, similar to those that surrounded the Oakland International Airport, as a means to prevent sprawl and to encourage entrepreneurs to develop the concept locally.  Mr. Doll said the airport would prefer having convenient on-site parking for its customers.  Commissioner Fleenor was concerned about the expansion of parking onto Class 1 soils and suggested that it would benefit residents to encourage park and fly facilities, where people could both park and have their cars serviced.  Mr. Doll said that most of the expanded parking area was already paved and no farmland would be affected.  He recalled that at one time, the airport offered an oil change and detailing service through Kendall Auto and passengers had not been interested in taking advantage of that service while parked at the airport.

Mr. Doll encouraged the elected officials and residents to share their thoughts and ideas with the Airport Advisory Committee.

Councilor Zelenka suggested that the findings be revised to address some of the things that Mr. Doll mentioned about energy efficient structures, alternative transportation to and from airport, potential energy-efficient fleet changes, the fuels used by airplanes and automobiles, and the fuels consortium.  Mr. Doll indicated staff would also mention the airport’s LED lighting.

Responding to a question from Commissioner Handy, Mr. Flock said the main component of the plan that could trigger a future Metro Plan amendment would be the property acquisitions mentioned in the plan.  Acquisition of those properties would require that they be rezoned to Public Land (PL).

Responding to a question from Commissioner Handy, Mr. Doll said that approval of the plan did not mean the FAA would force the community to do anything in the plan.  The FAA would require the City to provide the services and facilities required to meet the demand of the traveling public.  The FAA would not direct the City to build any of the projects in the plan, and left it to the local airport to decide how to accommodate demand and meet the requirements that the FAA set out.

Commissioner Handy asked in what other ways the airport could leverage federal money for other things important to the community, such as funding alternative modes to deal with peak travel or beautifying Highway 99.  Mr. Doll said that airport revenues and FAA dollars were dedicated to airport operations only.  For example, FAA would not pay for parking lots.  That required local revenues.

Mayor Piercy determined from City Attorney Jerome that she recommended the record remain open to allow the questions asked by the commissioners to be answered.

Mayor Piercy adjourned the hearing of the Eugene City Council at 8:07 p.m.

Commissioner Handy, seconded by Commissioner Sorenson, moved the third reading and set it for September 28, 2010, at a time to be determined.  The motion passed unanimously, 3:0.

Commissioner Handy adjourned the hearing of the Board of County Commissioners at 8:08 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Beth Forrest
City Recorder

(Recorded by Kimberly Young)