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Land use appeal dismissed in Roseburg shave ice dispute

The City of Roseburg is claiming victory in a legal dispute over whether a shave ice truck can operate on weekends at Stewart Park following a decision by a state land use board, while the attorney for the owner of the business said the fight is not over.

The dispute involves Lan Ha, who owns Wailani shave ice, who said city officials told her she could operate her food truck weekends at the park all summer. Ha said those city officials later reversed course, telling her they made a mistake and she would not be allowed to sell her product at the park on weekends. Ha said that cost her money in lost revenue, and hired Roseburg attorney Charles Lee to represent her.

Lee filed an appeal with the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals. On Sept. 10 the board dismissed Ha’s appeal, ruling that Lee missed the deadline for filing a petition for review.

Case over, city officials said.

“This dismissal was not unexpected,” city spokesperson Suzzane Hurt said. “As far as we’re concerned, this is over.”

Lee said that is not the case.

He said he thought the appeal was going to mediation, but later realized he may have confused this case with another one that had gone to mediation.

“I was surprised as I had thought that LUBA had scheduled us for a mediation session,” he said. “I do not think the LUBA dismissal is fatal as my position was that this was not a land use decision in the first place; the only problem was that the city referred to it as a land-use decision. Even if it is not a fatal problem, it is an embarrassing problem.”

Lee said he has always maintained that the dispute is fundamentally a contractual issue between the city and Ha, and not a land-use issue as the city has claimed. He said he felt compelled to file an appeal with LUBA because it has exclusive jurisdiction over land use disputes. He said he expected LUBA to send the appeal back, ruling that it was the wrong venue for the dispute.

“I missed the deadline with LUBA to make that argument,” he said. “Now, if I have to sue the city, and the city says that the circuit court has no jurisdiction because this was a land-use issue, then we will have to argue before a circuit court judge about whether it was a land-use issue instead of having first argued before LUBA about whether it was a land-use issue.”

Lee said he has been unable to find any zoning prohibition that would preclude the city from issuing a permit to Ha. Lee also said he could not find any rules or directions anywhere on the city’s website that pertain to how the city should make decisions on food trucks or concessions in parks.

“This has been a long summer and I am so grateful for all the community support and encouragement,” Ha said. “We are still consulting with our attorney to decide which path we will take next.”

The dispute dates back to April. Ha said the parks department approved a permit allowing the truck to operate and told her she could stay there all summer, but required her to have several million dollars more in insurance coverage than would typically be required of a food truck. Ha purchased the extra insurance.

She also paid the city for the month of May and scheduled payments at the beginning of each month moving forward. She was given the electrical key to the park.

The shave ice truck drew large crowds, upwards of 500 customers a day, Ha said. She advertised the Stewart Park weekend location and posted items on social media to grow her customer base. Ha said she turned down several events because she wanted to focus on the growing business at Stewart Park.

That all changed on May 26, when Ha received an email from Kris Ammerman, former parks and recreation manager for the City of Roseburg. He wrote that city officials realized they had made a mistake in approving the shave ice truck at the park and that allowing a vendor there outside of a special event, such as Music on the Half Shell, is in violation of city zoning laws.

“In light of this new information, we will not be able to allow you to continue using Stewart Park as a business location unless you are part of a special event,” Ammerman wrote. “I apologize for this oversight.”

Ha wrote Ammerman back the next day. She said the reversal threw her “for a loop” and would have “a tremendous impact” on her business. Ha also said the shave ice truck was very popular at the park and asked Ammerman if there wasn’t some way she could be allowed to stay there.

“I appreciate your apology for the oversight in allowance but this will impact our business greatly,” Ha wrote. “My hope is that we can work together to come up with some alternative options or permits to be allowed at the park on the weekends.”

Ammerman wrote Ha back the same day, again apologizing for the mistake the city made.

“My initial decision was made without all of the information. Once all of the information was presented to me, I realized I made a mistake and that I had to correct course,” he wrote. “I consulted with city leadership and they confirmed that I had to rescind my decision to be in compliance. We cannot knowingly violate our own ordinances. I apologize again for the impact this will have on your business.”

Ha wrote back Ammerman one last time, asking again for the city to reconsider.

“Can you please let me know if the city is going to make any good faith effort to work with us or if the short notice and apology is the final decision from the City?” she wrote. “If the decision is final, then I will turn in the park electrical key Monday. “

Ha said she never got a response to that letter. She turned in the key.

Roseburg's own Scott Wadsworth is the Essential Craftsman

Scott Wadsworth has long been a carpenter by trade and a blacksmith by hobby, so he started a YouTube channel called Essential Craftsman 5 years ago with tutorials on blacksmithing.

He moved on to teaching his viewers about handling tools, and then became interested in the idea of building a house from scratch and filming the entire process.

Last week, he stood in that completed home, a spacious craftsman-style beauty at the end of Daysha Drive in Roseburg.

It has been a monumental effort.

It takes years to build a house while teaching others how it’s done, while it would have taken about nine months just to build it without creating videos, Wadsworth said.

But while it’s been time-intensive, it’s also been hugely popular.

Wadsworth’s channel now has 1.06 million subscribers.

At an August open house for the home he built, he drew 300 visitors from all over the country.

On Friday, a couple from Hooper, Utah had arrived early to a second open house there. Wayne and Jan Haws were eager to see the finished product in person and to meet the man who they’d watch build it.

“I’m an electrical contractor, so he talks about stuff I relate to and building houses and building things. It’s all kind of something we do,” he said.

“I told my wife if we came across the plains, he and I would be in the back making sure everybody got through OK. Fixing things, fixing the wagons,” he said.

Wadsworth said his only explanation for the show’s popularity is that people are subconsciously aware that everything they need to live comes from somewhere else.

“Somebody else is making everything we use. It comes on a boat, it comes on a truck, and I think people — particularly the millennials — are kind of really interested in how things are made. They have sort of a desire to be able to make things, and so they kind of live that vicariously through YouTube,” he said.

The house on Daysha Drive is spacious, with oak floors and big windows. It’s been cleverly built to maximize the space available on a small, steep, difficult lot that had sat unused for more than two decades.

“It was kind of the junk lot of the tract,” Wadsworth said. “We picked the lot because it’s actually a film studio.”

As a filming site, the lot was perfect. There’s no through street, no road noise and a vacant lot on each side of the street buffering it from the neighbors.

Wadsworth performed nearly all the carpentry at the house and brought in the same local subcontractors he’s used in 26 years been a general contractor.

Their work, too, has been featured on the channel.

“I’ve got just the best subcontractors in Douglas County, the very best. And it’s been nice to be able to let some light shine on them,” Wadsworth said.

Wadsworth’s blacksmithing also added to the house. He built the metal railing going up a staircase and the copper range hood over the stove.

Nate Wadsworth, Scott Wadsworth’s son, does all the filming for the series. He grew up in Glide, but was living in Arizona and working in real estate and development when the series started.

When he started getting busy making lots of videos for the show, he decided to return to Douglas County. He now lives in Roseburg, about a five-minute drive from the house.

Nate Wadsworth attributes the show’s success to its combination of education and entertainment.

“When people are making a choice about how to spend their TV consumption time, I think it might feel a hair more useful than watching Breaking Bad,” he said.

Scott Wadsworth said it was bizarre how filming considerations entered into decisions about how to build the house.

“Do we include a hardwood floor or carpet? What type of railing? What do we put in this house, to maximize the opportunities to teach and entertain?” he said.

Still, he said, the primary consideration was always building the house well.

Sometimes, the process didn’t go smoothly.

Wadsworth built two sets of staircases in the home, one winding and one straight.

The winding stair takes the climber around a 180-degree turn while ascending, a design that helps compress the staircase.

It was on the straight stair, though, that Wadsworth ran into trouble.

“I built them incorrectly on the first video, had to own it, had to tear them out on the video and rebuild them, and I can tell you that crow is best when eaten warm,” he said.

Sometimes the viewers helped identify changes that should be made. The initial designs called for a bathroom right off the kitchen, but one viewer commented that there should always be at least two doors between a kitchen and a bathroom.

So that space was redesigned as a pantry instead, and the bathroom was placed under the stairs.

The commenter turned out to be Dave Heil, who had gone to Glide High School with Wadsworth and was watching the show from his home in Tokyo.

While he loved the work and is glad he did it, Wadsworth also said it was exhausting building a home for an audience and he doesn’t expect to do it again.

For the future, he’s going to steer his YouTube channel back to blacksmithing and other shop skills. The house will be sold.

“We’re very pleased with how it’s turned out. Mostly we’re pleased with the response and the reaction and new friends like these folks coming from Utah. It’s a blessing that people would go so far out of the way to engage,” Wadsworth said.

Nate Wadsworth said it was a big enough idea that when they started he didn’t know how the project would turn out. Now that it’s done, it feels like a big accomplishment.

“We did a job that we’re really proud of and our work, meaning the video series, will be up for a long, long time,” he said. “So unlike a lot of the work that tradesmen and contractors do — where they kind of put their heart and soul into a project and then they walk away and don’t ever see it again — we feel like we get to actually keep our hard work, which is this really valuable video series that we’re proud of,” he said.

Douglas County sees a significant drop in COVID-19 cases, but hospitalizations remain high

Douglas County reported an average of 40 positive and presumptive cases of COVID-19 between Saturday and Monday after nearly a month of daily cases in the triple digits.

The Douglas County COVID-19 Recovery Team reported 42 positive and presumptive coronavirus cases Saturday, 38 Sunday and 39 Monday. Three deaths were recorded in the team’s Saturday report, raising the county’s death toll to 188.

The deaths included a 50-year-old man who died on Friday, who the Douglas Public Health Network reported was unvaccinated. A fully vaccinated 83-year-old man also died Friday, while an unvaccinated 46-year-old woman reportedly died Saturday.

The county reported that for the reporting week ending Saturday, there were 436 new positive and presumptive cases of the coronavirus. By comparison, there were 1,274 cases in the reporting week ending Aug. 21.

“Douglas County is not out of the woods yet,” the recovery team said in Monday’s report. “Case numbers are still very high comparatively.”

The team noted that while the peak of 113 hospitalized residents was extraordinarily high, there are still 88 hospitalized.

“This number remains very worrisome,” the team said.

Of the 88 county residents hospitalized with COVID-19 complications, 62 were being cared for locally and 26 out of the area, including one receiving specialized treatment out of state. At CHI Mercy Medical Center, 22 patients were on ventilators and another eight were receiving non-invasive breathing treatment. The hospital’s intensive care unit was caring for 15 patients with another 13 in the progressive care unit. COVID-19-related patients made up 49% of the hospital’s total residency as of Monday.

Friday, the Oregon Health Authority announced that the Food and Drug Administration recommended that residents age 65 and older — or those at high risk of severe COVID-19 complications — who have completed their two-shot sequence of the Pfizer vaccine contemplate a booster shot of the vaccine six months after their second shot.

Boosters have not yet been recommended for people who received the two-shot Moderna vaccine or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, as neither have yet completed the process for full FDA approval outside of emergency use. The Moderna vaccine is currently in the FDA full-approval process. It is expected that federal officials will consider booster doses for people who have received the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines in the coming weeks.

The Oregon Health Authority reported 3,359 new positive and presumptive COVID-19 cases statewide as well as 25 deaths, raising the state’s death toll to 3,594.