Rogue Advocates Presents Comments on LCDC Rule Changes

The Land Conservation and Development Commission is proposing temporary rule changes to allow interim housing on lands outside of the Urban Growth Boundaries as a result of wildfire displacement.

Rogue Advocates is concerned that the proposed language in the draft rule changes in conjunction with enforcement practice in Jackson County may result in the permanent establishment of nonconforming residential land uses.

On the question of need, we note the following:

•In response to the Almeda Fire, a temporary shelter was set up at the Jackson County Expo. The use of the Expo as a shelter has been discontinued due to a lack of need. It is presumed that all those in need of shelter after the fire have found it in one form or another, however temporary those circumstances may be.

• FEMA has responsibility for securing temporary shelters for those affected by the fire and is the agency responsible for determining where temporary shelters will be located. There is no evidence that FEMA has requested the State of Oregon or Jackson County to change its land use development regulations in order to accommodate temporary shelters.

• FEMA prefers land with good access, available utilities and other infrastructure to locate temporary shelters. Such lands are almost exclusively found within urbanized areas and not on rural lands such as those considered in the proposed rule changes. No information has been provided on the availability of urbanized/urbanizable lands to accommodate temporary housing needs.

• The cities of Ashland, Talent, Phoenix and Medford have all adopted emergency code/ ordinance changes allowing use of RVs on private properties and, in some cases, on city streets. No analysis has been provided indicating how such code changes are likely to impact the need for rural land for temporary shelters.

• The cities of Talent Phoenix and Medford have Urban Reserve Areas designed to accommodate urban land needs for the next 40+ years.

Given the above facts, it is not plausible to us that rural lands outside of those already within Urban Growth Boundary/Urban Reserve Areas are necessary, or practical, to accommodate temporary housing needs in Jackson County above and beyond those that can already be accommodated through a Type 1 process.

Comments submitted by Craig Anderson, Rogue Advocates

Rogue Advocates is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to cultivating livable communities in southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley region.