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City Council approves Housing Needs Analysis

The Roseburg City Council voted 6-2 at its regular meeting to adopt a road map that will guide how the city approaches the housing crisis and accommodates forecasted population growth.

Because of the vote, the Housing Needs Analysis will be included in the city’s comprehensive plan and will guide decision making for current and future city councils on how to address Roseburg’s housing crisis and provide data and statistics to inform policy decisions.

“This has been a significant project, one we’ve worked on for the past six months,” said Stuart Cowie, the community development director for Roseburg.

The study was made possible because of funding from the Department of Land Conservation and Development last fall. EcoNorthwest was contracted to perform the analysis.

The Housing Needs Analysis includes a list of 44 potential solutions to the housing crisis, such as streamlining the development process and identifying affordable housing opportunities. In order to be adopted, each policy listed in the HNA has to go through its own legislative process that will include public comment opportunities, Cowie said. EcoNorthwest developed these policy suggestions based on population growth forecasts and an assessment of the available, buildable land in the city.

Councilors had a nearly two-hour discussion about the implications of specific policy suggestions outlined in the plan, such as creating minimum density requirements to allow for more high-density housing developments, such as apartment buildings.

However, each policy suggested in the HNA are simply suggestions and are not “set in stone,” Cowie said.

Multiple councilors repeatedly needed to clarify that the policies suggested would not become part of the city code if they adopted the HNA.

Nikki Messenger, who will officially become the Roseburg city manager in September, frequently stepped in to clarify that by adopting the HNA, the city could use data in the 94-page study to debate whether to adopt specific policies at a future meeting. She shook her head when councilors suggested adopting the HNA would automatically create policies.

Ben Tatone, owner of Roseburg Homes Realty, asked the City Council not to codify the study in the comprehensive plan. He raised concerns about one policy suggestion to create minimum density requirements in the city, saying it could deter developers from building in the area.

Concerns around developing on steeply sloped land also rose at the public hearing. A portion of the available buildable land outlined in the HNA are on lands at 25% slope or less. Building on highly sloped land is more expensive, Cowie said.

Because they said the document needed more work, Beverley Cole and Ashley Hicks voted not to accept the recommendation from the Roseburg Planning Commission to include the HNA within the comprehensive plan.

“I think there’s more work to be done, and I don’t feel satisfied with it the way it is,” Hicks said. “I’m supportive of the direction we’re going, but I think there’s more work to do.”

A warm welcome back to school

WINSTON — Special education teacher Lindi Tabor welcomed students as they returned to school at McGovern Elementary School on Monday morning.

She gave hugs and high fives to students and helped others find out who their teacher would be this year and showed students how to get to their new classrooms.

Tabor said her excitement wasn’t just because it was the first day of school for several Douglas County schools.

“I’m kind of that way every morning,” she said, as fourth-graders lined up to get into the cafeteria for breakfast. “School is a good portion of their lives. I want to make sure they’re set up for success.”

Aiden Birdsell, a 10-year-old fourth grader, was excited to start at a new school. He was especially looking forward to seeing his friends and studying math and physical education.

McGovern Elementary School is a fourth- through sixth-grade school.

Jessica Delacruz, Kenna Martinez and Kimberly Lyman were excited to see each other again after summer break.

The trio of 9-year-old fourth graders giggled and hugged as they talked about what they were expecting for the upcoming school year.

“I’m excited for field trips and seeing all my friends,” Kimberly said. Jessica added that she was hoping to make new friends and learn new things.

Fourth grader Konnor MacCall said he was nervous to start at a new school with a new teacher.

While Konnor rode the bus on his first day back to school, there was an influx in parents who took time to make the first day back special. Many even lined their students up in front of the blue wall with the school’s name or the welcome back sign for an obligatory first day of school photo.

Kaylee Sheppard, an 11-year-old sixth grader, was one of the students who posed for a photo. While she was nervous to start school and wished summer lasted a little longer, her mother was ready for school to start.

“We want to make sure the parents know we care too,” Tabor said.

Parents got a special goodbye from students at Lookingglass Elementary. After an opening ceremony in the gym, which included the Pledge of Allegiance, students faced their parents and waved them goodbye as they followed their teacher to their new classrooms.

Some of the kindergarteners were a little hesitant to start school, and one broke down in tears and ran to Principal Oriole Inkster for a hug.

Neveah Weaver, however, wasn’t nervous at all. She was just excited. Mostly because it meant she’ll get to play on the playground every day.

Glide, Elkton and Days Creek students are returning to school this week as well.

Roseburg Superintendent Jared Cordon welcomes staff back for the new school year

Working together will be key at Roseburg Public Schools this year.

That was the message from Roseburg Public Schools Superintendent Jared Cordon, who hosted a breakfast for all employees Monday morning at the Rose Theater at Roseburg High School as a welcome back for the 2019-20 school year.

As part of his message to staff, Cordon used an analogy about Redwood National Park. Although the trees are some of the largest in the world, Cordon said the roots are very shallow. Despite a shallow root system and tough West Coast conditions, the forest is able to survive storms by working together.

“The Redwood roots are shallow but are woven together, and together they are remarkably strong,” Cordon said. “As a community, we can learn something from these Redwoods as we help tether and support each other and as we build partnerships together. This is our work, our root system.”

“I liked the story of the redwoods and how it ties into what we are here for,” Administrative Assistant Patty Boggs said.

The Rose Theater was at capacity with all staff attending, including classified staff who were not scheduled but were offered four hours of paid time to attend the breakfast, welcome and a school meeting.

“We want to make sure we emphasize the importance of partnership,” Cordon said about asking classified staff to return at the same time as licensed staff. “We want to start the school year with all the employees.”

Cordon said he also plans to shut off his air conditioning during the expected upcoming heatwave.

“If I’m going to hold other people accountable, I need to hold myself accountable,” Cordon said. “If I expect a 6-year-old to sit in a 100-degree classroom, I’m going to turn off my air conditioner.”

This week is filled with planning days for teachers. Roseburg schools start class on Sept. 3 for elementary school students, sixth and ninth graders, and on Sept. 4 for all other students.

Weather heating up for last week of August

The Umpqua Valley could be in for a record hot day Tuesday.

The National Weather Service in Medford is forecasting a high temperature of 102 degrees, which would eclipse the record of 99 set in 2017. The temperature is expected to drop to a high of of 96 degrees Wednesday.

Meteorologist Tom Wright of the Weather Service in Medford calls it a homegrown heat wave.

“We’re sort of developing a warm ridge right over us and it’s a big, strong, high-pressure system above us, and all that heat is developing locally, not really coming from anywhere,” Wright said.

The dry, hot weather will increase fire danger in all of Southern Oregon. Humidity is expected to increase Wednesday and there is a possibility of thunderstorms with the front, although it’s a long shot that lightning and thunder will make it to the Roseburg area.

“We have a system coming in that may produce thunderstorm activity more toward Wednesday,” Wright said. “There’s a slight chance in Roseburg, much more likely in the Cascades and down in the Siskiyous in California.”

If the mercury hits 100, it would be only the second time this year Roseburg has reached that temperature.

Wright said Roseburg hit 101 degrees on June 12, which was a record for that date, but the summer overall has been cooler than the past few summers, where there have been several 100-degree days when temperatures reached as high as 109.

“From my experience, it hasn’t been as hot as we’ve been seeing, we haven’t had the big heat waves like we’d normally have,” Wright said. “Last summer we had 105 degrees or more for several days. We’ve had a few rainstorms this summer, and it’s been a little wetter than we’d normally see.”

After the heat wave, the temperatures are expected to stay above normal until the middle of next week, when a different weather system will start moving into the area. There is a chance of some precipitation with that front and temperatures are expected to drop to near normal for early September.

Pacific Power recommends that during the high temperatures residents set the air conditioners to 85 degrees when not at home. They say that can save up to 8% on the electricity bill, plus it cuts down on the high volume of usage during the hottest part of the day.

Pacific Power officials say you can reduce indoor heat by using your heat-producing appliances in cooler parts of the day, and also by grilling outside and air-drying clothes. Items that are plugged in still draw energy even if they’re not being used, and should be unplugged.

The Faith Lutheran Church, 820 W. Kenwood St., will serve as a cooling center from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday.