Bear Creek Valley Regional Problem Solving Enters New Phase

During the last year and a half the Jackson County Planning Commission has held hearings on the Regional Problem Solving (RPS) plan, which will guide growth in the Bear Creek Valley for the next 50 years. After 27 meetings and over 2,250 pages of written material, the Planning Commission has made a recommendation to the Board of Commissioners. The Board will hold their hearings in September and October, and will make a final decision by November 1, 2011.

Thanks to testimony and letters from many passionate advocates in Southern Oregon, the Planning Commission’s recommendation contains significant improvements over the previous draft. For example:

  • The density for every city has been increased to a level above 7 units per acre—the number that RVTD said saw a minimum for basic bus service;
  • Nearly 200 acres of RLRC-designated high-value farmland was removed—including controversial pieces in Talent, Phoenix, and Medford; and
  • New commitments were added to ensure mixed-use development along transit corridors.

However, the plan still has some significant weaknesses that the Board needs to hear about and correct, including:

  • Medford, the largest city in the region, is proposed to have the lowest density of any city;
  • Medford and Phoenix actually have more land in the plan now than they did before; and
  •  The Farmland Conservation Program that many of you testified in favor of has been left out of the plan, leaving no affirmative protection for the farmland that remains outside of the urban reserves.

The Board will almost certainly make more changes to the plan during their hearings in September and October (see a tentative schedule here). They need to hear from residents of Jackson County that compact, livable cities are important, and that preserving what remains of our best farmland is critical. Please plan to attend a hearing or write a letter to the Board expressing your thoughts.

A good summary of the changes recommended by the Planning Commission can be found here. You can read the full set of recommendations and see maps here and here. (See pages 25-37; the revised plan text starts at page 39.) If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Greg Holmes, or Southern Oregon Advocate, at greg@friends.org or 541.474.1155.