Roseburg City Council is scheduled to vote on approving a road map to address the current housing crisis at its meeting Monday.

If approved, the vote will shape the way the city approaches the housing crisis in order to accommodate the forecasted population growth for the next 20 years.

Councilors will vote on adopting the recently completed Housing Needs Analysis to the city’s Comprehensive Plan. Stuart Cowie, the city’s community development director, presented the report’s findings to the Planning Commission on Aug. 5, which it approved.

The HNA identified the areas of weakness in future development and included a list of potential solutions to the housing crisis. According to the analysis, Roseburg must grow by 2,678 housing units to accommodate the increasing population over the next 20 years.

If approved, the HNA would not enact any new policies, but instead, offer possible solutions the city can try in order to grow its number of housing units, Cowie said. Potential solutions include streamlining Roseburg’s development process and creating policies that bolster the development of affordable housing.

“It’s just important for people to realize the adoption of this is not necessarily going to be what implements any of these policies,” Cowie said. “It provides the framework for us to be able to move forward.”

The city was awarded funding from the Department of Land Conservation and Development to fund the development of the HNA. EcoNorthwest was contracted to perform the HNA and Kris Smock Consulting performed a Homeless Population Study.

“What it’s trying to answer is, over a 20-year period, does Roseburg have enough buildable land to accommodate the forecast for population growth?” said Beth Goodman, of EcoNorthwest. “And, is Roseburg providing opportunity for development of housing that’s affordable at all income levels?”

The study found the city has enough land for the needed growth, though certain aspects are not ideal. Complications such as market trends, severely sloped land and affordable housing barriers complicate the issue.

Of the new units, 60% must be single-family detached homes, 10% must be single-family attached housing, such as townhouses, and 30% must be multifamily units, such as apartment buildings.

Roseburg has enough land for developing single-family detached and attached units, though it is pinched for space for apartment buildings, Goodman said.

Some of the policy suggestions in the Housing Needs Analysis suggest allowing for a wider range of types of housing developments in Roseburg’s existing zones, such as tiny houses, or encouraging the development of multifamily housing units in commercial zones.

Ben Tatone, owner of Roseburg Homes Realty, spoke at the public hearing Aug. 5 and said he believes some of the policy suggestions in the HNA could deter developers from building units in Roseburg.

“I think the city staff is genuinely well-intended with trying to create policies that promote affordable housing. There were just some things in that housing analysis that were contrary to that,” Tatone said.

The HNA outlines the exact types of housing units that the city needs to accommodate the population, however, Tatone said he believes the market demands for mostly single-family detached homes — meaning developers will likely not want to build multi-family homes.

“But if, in fact, they become more restrictive, then there will be even less (homes) built, there’ll be even less available — and that will drive prices up not down,” Tatone said.

Another concern lies with the sloped land being difficult and expensive to develop on.

“Developing on a hillside is generally more expensive for a lot of reasons,” Goodman said. “Those areas are going to be very difficult to develop and to service because they are either on steep slopes or on the other side of the ridge where you don’t have the water service.”

One solution to this problem is the Urban Growth Boundary swap, which would exchange the sloped land within the boundary for flat, more developable land outside the boundary.

Goodman said the housing crisis is not exclusive to Roseburg, and that similar problems are happening across the country.

“Roseburg is one of our smaller mid-sized cities in a rural area that has similar problems as many of our other cities across Oregon,” Goodman said. “Increasing housing costs, where we haven’t seen income increasing as much, and this is true across the country. Incomes have simply grown very slowly.”

City council meets at 7 p.m. Monday and a public hearing will be held during the meeting for residents to speak on the topic before voting.

Hannah Kanik is a general assignment reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at hkanik@nrtoday.com and 541-957-4210. Or follow her on Twitter @hannah_kanik.

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