The Collaboration Corvallis project steering committee said yes to everything forwarded to it Thursday night —except for more police officers. At least, not yet.
The committee passed 29 of the 30 recommendations suggested by the project’s three workgroups and sent a recommendation on police officer staffing back to the neighborhood livability panel for further study.
The City Council and Oregon State University leadership now will consider the other initiatives, which are part of the ongoing effort by the city and OSU to address issues in Corvallis neighborhoods affected by enrollment growth.
Committee members generally applauded the idea of increasing the law-enforcement presence in the neighborhoods, but committee members and visitors giving public testimony also felt that the concept needed to be fine-tuned.
As written in the recommendations from the livability workgroup, the proposal called for “placing a priority on increasing the number of sworn officers employed with the Corvallis Police Department to be consistent with other university communities that have a total population comparable to that of Corvallis.”
Two of the community members who spoke during the public testimony period, planning commissioner Kent Daniels and former councilor Betty Griffiths, expressed concerns about the proposal.
“It’s a simple formula,” said Griffiths, who also serves on the collaboration project’s neighborhood planning workgroup.
“We should also look at other factors such as the location of the cities, the housing situations, poverty rates, proportion of students and permanent residents and actual crime rate comparisons.”
Steering committee member Jay Dixon, a Benton County commissioner, agreed.
“We can’t just look at adding police officers,” he said. “What about the court impact? We have to look at the entire system. This is too simplistic.”
Committee member Jim Patterson, the Corvallis city manager, noted that police staffing levels are where they were in 1992, but agreed with the need for collecting more information on the issue.
Ward 9 councilor Hal Brauner said he could not support the proposal as written because of the way it might tie the council’s hands on budget matters.
The rest of the proposals were approved with minimal debate. Included were:
• Expanding the OSU conduct code to include off-campus behavior.
• Increasing fines for providing alcohol to minors.
• Establishing a “social host ordinance” that would hold residents and property owners liable for conduct at parties and other social gatherings.
• Requiring OSU to build additional on-campus housing for about 2,000 students by 2019.
The steering committee meets again in February to consider further proposals from the workgroups. OSU President Ed Ray, co-chair of the committee, adamantly asserted that the project needs to ensure some accountability.
“We need to create a matrix on action,” he said. “Who needs to take the action? The city? The university? Who in the city? Who in the university?
“And we need timelines. What’s going to be different in autumn of 2013 than now? What are the expected outcomes and how are we going to find the resources?”
Project manager Eric Adams assured Ray that his staff could make such oversight happen.