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New apartments on the way in Roseburg

It’s been six years since an apartment building has gone up in Roseburg. Now, on the heels of a report outlining the dire need for such housing, it appears that’s about to change in a big way.

Three separate apartment complexes totaling nearly 300 units — all slated for the Diamond Lake Boulevard corridor east of downtown — are in various stages of development.

Developers have won initial approval to build an 89-unit apartment complex on a 5-acre site on Northeast Diamond Lake Boulevard and Pomona Street. Plans call for all of the units to have two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Another developer has approached the city to discuss a possible 120-unit complex, also on Diamond Lake Boulevard. That proposal is still in the early stages and no paperwork has been submitted.

And only two weeks ago, NeighborWorks Umpqua held a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate a 67-unit apartment complex it is developing on 3 acres in the 2800 block of Northeast Douglas Avenue, just south of Diamond Lake Boulevard.

On Monday night, the Roseburg City Council added a lengthy housing needs analysis to the city’s main growth planning document. The study showed an acute shortage of multi-unit housing, especially for low-income residents. The housing shortage is almost certain to worsen, with an additional 2,700 units needed to house the more than 5,500 people expected to move here in the next 20 years, the study determined.

The lack of affordable housing is a contributing factor to homelessness in the region, the study found. The housing crunch is exacerbated by the fact that a third of all city residents are considered very low income and can only afford to pay $650 a month in rent.

The analysis will now become part of one of the city’s guiding documents for growth, known as the Roseburg Urban Area Comprehensive Plan. Adding the housing needs analysis to the plan gives city planners more ways to help spur the construction of apartment complexes.

For property managers like Carol Sabins, no analysis was needed to understand how critical the housing shortage is here. Sabins, who is with Centerpointe Property Management, sees it firsthand every day.

The almost complete lack of rental housing — underscored by a 1% vacancy rate — means Sabins is often forced to rent properties before they are vacated by the previous tenant, she wrote in a letter submitted last year supporting the housing study.

“It would be safe to say that Douglas County is currently in a housing crisis,” Sabins wrote. “Our population continues to grow, but we have no ability to house them. Even the mobile home parks are full.”

The housing analysis adopted by Monday’s City Council vote is intended to outline the problem and provide a number of possible remedies, including offering incentives to developers.

One such incentive now offered in the Diamond Lake Boulevard corridor — waiving up to $5,000 per unit in what are known as system development charges — is already paying dividends.

That provision could save Eugene developer Colin Kelley nearly $450,000, which he said is the reason he chose to build his 89-unit Oak Springs Apartments on Diamond Lake Boulevard and Pomona Street.

“That provides a huge benefit to me by lowering my costs,” said Kelley, principal at Timberview Construction Inc. “Those savings in the Diamond Lake area will have a huge impact on developments there.”

Timberview plans to build two-story, two bedroom, two bathroom units consisting of 968 square feet. Each apartment will have its own washer/dryer units and a balcony with a storage area. The complex will also feature an outdoor basketball court, Kelley said.

Rent will probably be around $1,200 a month, he said. Kelley is hoping to break ground in a month and the project should take about a year to complete.

NeighborWorks Umpqua will receive a waiver of nearly $315,000 for its 67 units at Deer Creek Village. Plans for Deer Creek Village call for a mix of studio and one and two-bedroom apartments housing low-income individuals and small families.

The complex will have a preference to rent to veterans but will not rent to them exclusively, NeighborWorks Umpqua officials have said.

Deer Creek Village officials said they expect to begin taking rental applications late next year and look for people to begin moving in sometime in 2021.

Little is publicly known about the third project, other than it would consist of 120 units and be located in the Diamond Lake corridor.

Parents help create a support system at Melrose Elementary School

About a dozen parents met in the staff room at Melrose Elementary School on Monday to have coffee with the principal and learn some of the things the school and its district have to offer students and parents.

Melrose Principal Tammy Rasmussen and Parent Teacher Action Network President Mariah Smith answered questions from parents of kindergartners on a variety of topics.

“I really enjoyed the questions,” Smith said. “These are the questions that we anticipate at the beginning of the school year. The next time there will be more questions and they will probably have something to do with things you have noticed around the school.”

The Parent Teacher Action Network, known as PTAN, has three “Coffee with the Principal” dates, providing parents with an informal setting to ask questions important to them.

The school and parent organization work together to put on more than a dozen events throughout the school year, working to raise money and creating a positive community culture.

PTAN prides itself on raising money through no-cost fundraising.

The majority of the funds come through Scrip cards, where local and national vendors sell gift cards at a discounted price to schools, which the organization then sells for face value.

“You buy gift cards for pretty much any purchasing you do ever,” Smith said. “We really want you to get used to looking at this and using them for your means when you’re going out to dinner, when you’re doing your grocery shopping.”

Money earned from the sale of gift cards, which are often available instantly at the school office, have paid for an instructional assistant.

PTAN also uses no-cost fundraising by clipping Box Tops and using school accounts for purchases with Amazon, Fred Meyer, and other businesses.

According to its website, Melrose PTAN raised more than $25,000 without costing supporters any extra money.

These funds have helped pay for school supplies. Smith pointed out that PTAN used no-cost fundraising options to purchase those supplies.

“Fred Meyer came through for us this year,” Smith said. On top of honoring coupons and a teacher discount, PTAN was able to pay using Scrip Cards and Fred Meyer Community Rewards. This means 4% of the cost would be donated back to the school through Scrip, and additional funds would come from the community rewards program.

A little more than a week before the start of the school year, Smith and vice president Rachel Nielsen gathered all the supplies into wagons to take to classrooms.

Each teacher received their requested supplies with a note and candy, courtesy of the parents and delivered by Smith’s and Nielsen’s children.

In addition to no-cost fundraising, the organization’s biggest moneymaker is its annual auction.

“I work hard to bring in people who are not part of the school, but love putting money toward the kids,” Smith said.

The students see these community contributions pay off by having events throughout the year, such as the father/daughter dance, mother/son night, the school carnival, the holiday dinner and many more.

Parents who want to volunteer for any of the events are asked to register on the app SignUpGenius, which will send out specific notifications and time slots for people who’d like to help.

Smith said she doesn’t help in her kids’ classrooms, but uses her skills and time to help in another way, “This is how I get involved, this is how I help.”

Melrose’s parent teacher action network has been organized since 1995, and has about a dozen people in attendance for monthly meetings and more signed up to volunteer.

The school is helping to get Scrip orders for other schools in Douglas County and is willing to help parents at other schools set up similar organizations.

Wet weekend lowers fire danger in Douglas County

Thanks to recent rainfall, the Douglas Forest Protective Association and the Umpqua National Forest have lowered the fire danger to low.

Roseburg recorded trace amounts of rain Saturday and 0.16 of an inch Sunday. But National Weather Service officials said some locations in eastern Douglas County recorded as much as three-fifths of an inch of rain.

And on Monday, Roseburg recorded another 0.31 of an inch of rain.

“It did vary by location because it was showers, so basically it was kind of hit and miss and some areas didn’t get anything,” said Mike Petrucelli, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Medford.

More isolated showers are expected Tuesday before the threat of rain moves out of the area, with occasional heavy showers in some places.

“We have a system that’s built up to our north and there is some cool air and instability that’s working its way through, so we’ll have to deal with a couple of more days of cooler weather and showers. Then it will dry out and warm up on Wednesday, probably through at least the start of the weekend,” Petrucelli said.

The DFPA and the National Forest Service have moved to an Industrial Fire Precaution Level 1 as of Monday morning on all DFPA-protected lands and Umpqua National Forest lands.

The DFPA lifted restrictions on mowing dead grass and the use of power saws for nonindustrial purposes, but public use restrictions remain in effect and all backyard debris burning remains prohibited under the regulations.

Even with more rain and cooler temperatures in the forecast, officials said the potential for additional lightning-related fires remains. They can sometimes smolder for days or even weeks before popping back to life on warm and windy days.

A total of 26 fires have been located on DFPA-protected lands so far, from the lightning storm that moved through last week so far.

The biggest of those being the Big Tom Foley Fire 5 miles northeast of Elkton at 10 acres.

The Umpqua National Forest reported over 40 smoke reports and confirmed 37 fires after the lightning storm last week.

Many of those are now controlled, and most fires have been held to less than 1 acre.

Information on public or industrial fire restrictions that remain in effect in the Douglas District can be found at or by calling the DFPA information line at 541-672-0379.

For information on the Umpqua National Forest call 541-957-3200 or visit