Urban Growth Boundaries Under Threat – Removing Barriers to Community Participation

[Jackson and Josephine Counties, OR, Nov 17, 2022]— In order to help community members effectively participate in Oregon’s complex land-use planning system, Rogue Advocates released a new community resource guide called “Participating in Land Use Planning”. This release comes at a timely moment when Oregon’s farm and forest lands are being converted by urban growth boundary expansions and new development.

Devin Kesner, Rogue Advocate’s Land Use Watchdog Program Manager said, “We know firsthand how challenging it can be to understand what is happening when local decision-makers are evaluating land use applications. Information can be difficult to find, the process can be unclear, and providing testimony can feel intimidating. We wanted to create a free community resource that would empower more diverse and effective participation.”

The “Participating in Land Use Planning” guide walks the reader through the important steps for how to engage with a land use proposal, including tracking land use applications; understanding the process that the decision-makers will use to evaluate an application; participating in the process through effective written or oral testimony; and how and when to appeal a land use decision. In addition, a new webpage was created where community members can readily locate information about when and where planning meetings are held in their local areas.

Rogue Advocates’ Board President Jamie Talarico said, “We receive numerous emails from concerned community members who want to get involved and make a difference, yet they are confused with the land use process. We saw a need and by creating this guide, we hope to see an uptick in diverse perspectives being represented and overall greater public participation in local land use issues.”

A recent example that illustrates the power of public participation is the rejection of the Shady Cove mining application. The application sought approval for mining, crushing, sizing, stockpiling, hauling, and blasting, all within proximity to surrounding residences, some as close as 100 feet from the site and Trail Creek, a Rogue River tributary. In the face of sustained opposition from Rogue Advocates and vocal community members, Jackson County made its final decision to deny the application, a huge win for residents and the environment.

“It is critical that we keep vigilant watch over applications being submitted to planning departments and that the community participate in the land use process,” said President Jamie Talarico. “We must ensure our UGBs remain as a legitimate boundary between urban and rural development and that our productive and finite farmland, forests, and quality soils are not paved over. We are concerned there will be a rise in these types of applications from developers.”

Oregon’s land use system depends on public participation in the planning process to guide smart and sustainable decision-making. Public participation is the first goal of Oregon’s 19 Statewide Land Use Planning Goals. Rogue Advocates’ “Participating in Land Use Planning” guide is free and can be downloaded here.

Rogue Advocates is dedicated to cultivating livable and sustainable communities in southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley region. They work to preserve productive rural lands and to promote vibrant urban centers.