EUGENE — A first-of-its-kind Review Panel has completed the first phase of a public engagement process designed to advise the City of Eugene on the implementation of HB 2001, as part of the City’s Middle Housing Code Change project. The 29-member Panel of everyday Eugene residents was selected through a lottery process that uses random, stratified selection of participants to ensure the Panel will be representative of the community across a broad spectrum of diversities.
The process is designed and moderated by the Oregon-based nonprofit Healthy Democracy, best known for the Citizens’ Initiative Review and other innovative lottery-selected processes.
The Eugene Review Panel met nine times in Nov. and Dec. 2020. Panelists questioned 20 expert and stakeholder presenters, most of whom were chosen by the Panel itself. The Panel deliberated on the complex issues at hand and drafted 41 Guiding Principles related to HB 2001 and broader housing concerns. The Panel prioritized its Principles and submitted them – unedited by staff – to City planning officials on Dec. 15. These Principles will be considered among other public engagement inputs as part of the City’s code revisions.
The Review Panel is scheduled to reconvene for three sessions in Feb. 2021, to review the City’s code change concepts and evaluate them against the Panel’s Principles. The Panel will return again in April 2021 to offer another round of evaluation.
Among this Review Panel’s innovative design elements is a subcommittee structure intended to allow the Panel to provide much of its own staff support. Unlike most similar committees, the Panel – rather than staff – was solely responsible for summarizing the information it received, and for drafting and editing its own final report. Panel subcommittees also provided process and staff oversight and produced outreach materials. As much as possible, Panelists themselves will present the Panel’s work to the outside world. This is part of Healthy Democracy’s mission to promote a paradigm shift in public engagement: away from directive processes with significant staff intervention and toward processes where Panel members have as much agency as possible over the information they receive, the processes they engage in, and the results they write.
More information about the project and the Panel’s Guiding Principles are available at healthydemocracy.org/eugene.