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Roseburg City Council considers ordinance on Uber, Lyft services

The Roseburg City Council Monday considered an ordinance regulating ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft within city limits.

There was briefly an Uber service in town back in February, but the business stopped offering rides after the city threatened it with fines of up to $1,500 a day for failing to follow the city’s then-existing ordinances.

The city then began working on an ordinance that would allow Uber and Lyft to operate along with traditional taxi operators. It modeled its proposed ordinance on similar ordinances adopted in Medford and other Oregon cities.

Issues in contention have included the extensiveness of criminal background checks for drivers, the age of the vehicles, and the amount of liability insurance.

A first reading was held on the ordinance Monday, with no vote taken.

It gives the city recorder authority to determine whether a driver is fit, taking into consideration the driver’s prior criminal history and driving safety record. It also mandates the driver provide proof the vehicle is no more than 15 years old and that it has passed a safety inspection. A $1 million liability insurance policy is also required.

City Recorder Amy Sowa told councilors Monday she spoke to an Uber representative, who asked that a requirement for a safety report from a mechanic be removed. Several other cities don’t require that, but Eugene does, she said, and the council had previously indicated it was an important issue to them.

Other cities just leave the vehicle requirements up to Uber, which ensures that the vehicles are 15 years old or newer, and that there are four independently opening doors, but doesn’t mandate a mechanical safety check of the cars.

Taxis and ride-hailing services would both be covered under the same ordinance, if it is approved by the council at a future meeting. The ordinance also includes a schedule of fees that either type of service would have to pay to operate within the city.

A company like Uber or Lyft would have to pay $480 for an operator’s license, with driver’s permits being additional. Sowa said the fees were intended to be comparable to the fees the city charges taxi companies.

Councilor Steve Kaser said he didn’t know if the fees were fair or unfair, but after a year or two, the city will know more and could adjust them if necessary.

“If you like, we could definitely bring this back after year and just revisit it, to see if there’s other changes,” Sowa replied.

Roseburg duplex catches fire

A duplex in the 800 block of Francis Street caught fire Monday afternoon.

Firefighters initially responded to a report of smoke coming out of the back of the duplex at 2:01 p.m.

Later on, smoke starting coming out of the eaves of the building.

Roseburg Fire Department’s Assistant Fire Chief Merrill Gonterman said the fire originated on the deck and the flame spread to the wall and into the attic.

The cause is still under investigation.

The blaze affected 14 residents, six adults and eight children.

The Red Cross is providing resources to the family such as temporary housing, food, clothing and information about recovery services.

A firefighter extinguishes a remaining flame on the roof of a duplex in the 800 block of West Francis Street in Roseburg on Monday.

Rollover claims life of Roseburg man

A Roseburg man died and two passengers were injured early Sunday morning when their car flipped. On the same day, a second crash claimed the life of a Grants Pass man.

The first accident was about 4 miles north of Canyonville on Interstate 5 and was reported at 1:50 a.m. Oregon State Police said a 1985 Ford Bronco was traveling north near milepost 102 when, for an unknown reason, it left the road and rolled.

Zakary Mendenhall, 19, of Roseburg, died of his injuries at the scene, police said.

Passengers Sydnee Kibbey, 18, of Myrtle Creek, and Jenaka Black, 20, of Roseburg, both suffered injuries in the crash and were transported to the hospital.

Both northbound lanes of I-5 were closed for more than an hour, according to police.

In the second fatal accident Sunday, a 23-year-old Grants Pass man was found dead after his vehicle went 100 feet over an embankment near Tiller, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

Family members found Cameron Scott Reese’s car near milepost 8 on South Umpqua Road Sunday evening after he was reported overdue from a camping trip.

Reese had been camping near the South Umpqua Falls and left his campsite around 9 a.m., according to deputies.

Authorities arrived at the scene of the crash and found Reese trapped in the car. Reese was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff’s office was assisted by the Tiller Fire Department, Milo Fire Department, Bay Cities Ambulance, REACH Air Ambulance and South Umpqua Steep Angle Rescue.

Smiles Dental lawsuit dismissed

A lawsuit filed against Smiles Dental in February has been dismissed.

The complaint — filed by 53-year-old Michael Querubin in Douglas County Circuit Court — alleged Dr. Quinn Martin, a dentist at Smiles at the time, broke his bridge, teeth and jaw.

The dismissal was granted on July 10 by Douglas County Circuit Court Judge Frances Burge after Martin’s lawyer made a motion to dismiss the case on April 16 on the basis that the complaint was filed after the time allowed within state statute. According to Oregon law, any attempt to recover damages from medical injuries has to be filed within two years.

The alleged negligence took place on Feb. 2, 2016, and a complaint wasn’t filed until Feb. 5, 2018.

In a letter postmarked on April 28, Querubin, an inmate at Two Rivers Correctional Institution, said he was having difficulty finding another lawyer after his attorney, Nancy Howe, passed away.

Querubin asked the court to take his suffering into consideration and requested an extension so he could find a lawyer.

He also said the motion to dismiss was illegitimate.

“The time parameters were all met and the conclusion of the motion to dismiss because the action is time barred is illegitimate,” Querubin wrote.

Casey Murdock, Martin’s attorney, responded to the letter on May 3 by saying Howe’s passing was unfortunate and Querubin’s incarceration was disadvantageous, but neither impacted Querubin’s filing within the statute of limitations.

“(Martin) is not arguing that service was not accomplished in a certain time, which would be a curable defect,” Murdock wrote. “(Martin) is arguing that the initial Complaint (sic) was not filed within the time allowed by statute.”

On June 21, Murdock submitted a certificate of readiness to the court stating he had served a copy of the order and received no objection.

Martin told The News-Review he felt cheated when the lawsuit was first filed because he couldn’t comment due to patient confidentiality.

Now, he said he’s happy that the case was dismissed.

“Due to patient confidentiality I can’t really comment on it other than I’m pleased with the outcome,” Martin said Tuesday.

Querubin is serving a 68-month sentence after violating his parole earlier this year by smoking marijuana.

He was originally sentenced to 60 days in jail and five years of probation after he was convicted of second-degree assault in 2015 for hitting his neighbor in the face with a staff.