The Roseburg City Council considered whether to give downtown businesses the ability to create outdoor seating on city sidewalks and parking spaces at its regular meeting Monday.

The proposal is in its early stages, but city staff and restaurant owners have discussed creating a seasonal pilot project for the seating option called “parklets.” Multiple cities in Oregon have recently allowed parklets.

Kirk Blaine, project manager of Blue Zones Project Umpqua, and Susie Johnston-Forte, executive director of the Downtown Roseburg Association, presented to the City Council about the project. They said parklets would increase activity downtown and give people a new way to experience restaurants.

North Forty Beer Company co-owner Arin Forrest told councilors the most frequent question he gets from customers is whether the brewery can create outdoor seating.

While the City Council was supportive of further exploring the project, multiple councilors voiced concerns about reduced parking and unsheltered people abusing parklets.

“I think it’s a great idea, but I don’t know how to work out the problems with it,” said City Councilor Tom Ryan.

City staff will work with local organizations and businesses to model policies similar to cities that already have parklets.

At the meeting, the City Council also adopted an ordinance implementing the Pine Street Waterfront Overlay — a package of development regulations aimed at making the area along the Southeast Pine Street multi-use path a commercial hub and community gathering place.

Property owners who want to develop in the area would be required to follow building and street designs, which the city hopes will boost tourism and make the area more walkable.

The City Council also held a first reading of an ordinance that would require secondhand property dealers to upload information about items they purchase to LeadsOnline, an online database that helps law enforcement track stolen property.

Police officers would be able to refer to information about sellers and merchandise in the database when investigating reports of stolen property.

The Roseburg Police Department has contacted 25 secondhand property dealers in the city who would be required to comply with the ordinance or face fines for code violations if the City Council adopted the ordinance.

The City Council also considered creating funds to hire a city public information officer.

City officials said they have received complaints from residents that the city doesn’t publicize operations effectively, and the position would facilitate better communication.

The officer would be paid approximately $58,000, according to city staff. Total annual compensation with insurance and retirement benefits would be approximately $102,000.

Councilors directed city staff bring an appropriations transfer and supplemental budget for the position at the next meeting because funds for the position weren’t included in the recently adopted 2019-20 budget.

The City Council also accepted a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to fund 90% of a project that would replace runway lighting at the Roseburg Regional Airport. The grant totals $642,165.

An Oregon Department of Aviation grant and more than $10,000 from the city airport fund would pay for other costs associated with the $713,517-project.

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City Reporter

Max Egener is the city reporter for The News-Review. He has a master's degree from the University of Oregon, and is an avid skier and backpacker.

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