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Regional Problem Solving

Latest update: 2 April 2013

City of Medford - RPS: Urban Reserve Adoption Project

Current News

The Regional Plan is final. It has been acknowledged (approved) by the State and the appeal period has passed without any filings. That means that each of the participating cities in the valley finally has anurban reserve. 

Medford's urban reserve contains over 4,400 acres plus 1,877 acres of municipal parkland. Prescott and Chrissy Parks will not be eligible for development.

Scroll down this page to view the map showing the urban reserve.

In order to administer the urban reserve in accordance with the Regional Plan, the City adopted the following (click to view/download):

Hearings History

On 22 April 2010 the Medford Planning Commission held its first hearing on the adoption of the Regional Plan developed during the Regional Problem Solving project.

The Commission voted 8-0 to recommend to the Council that it send a recommendation to Jackson County to adopt the Regional Plan. They also recommended approval of an addition of 20 acres to the area designated MD-5 (owing to some unique circumstances) and recommended rejection of a change request and of another request for inclusion.

On 3 June and 17 June 2010 the Medford City Council held hearings on adoption of the Regional Plan. They voted 7–0 to approve a recommendation to the Jackson County Planning Commission to adopt thePlan as amended. The two amendments are: (1) the inclusion of a 20-acre lot that is part of another lot that is already in the proposed urban reserve and (2) a change in the reserve boundary in the vicinity of Harry & David.

On 24 June 2010 the Medford Planning Department presented the City’s recommendations to the Jackson County Planning Commission. The Commission request further testimony from the City, which they heard on 27 January 2011. The Commission passed along a recommendation to adopt the Plan as amended by them on 7/14/2011. That recommendation went to the County Board of Commissioners.The map of the changes the Commission made to Medford's proposal may be viewed here.

On 1 and 15 September 2011 the Medford City Council considered a resolution rejecting the County Planning Commission's recommended changes to the map and reaffirming the urban reserve the City proposed in its resolution of 15 June 2010, with the exception of the area designated MD-6 near the intersection of Highway 99 and South Stage Road, where the Council decided to return to the shape it had been for many years. The resolution and map may be viewed here.

The County Board of Commissioners began their hearings on September 7 and held hearings each Wednesday afternoon thereafter in an effort to finish before the end of the year. The Board began taking testimony in late September; Medford testified on 5 October. 

On 19 October 2011 the Board of Commissioners approved the Regional Plan. For the most part they reversed the recommendations of the County Planning Commission and accepted the City of Medford's proposed urban reserve map. The only part of the County PC's recommendation they retained was an 18-acre area south of Rossanley Drive off the western edge of the urban growth boundary. The map of the Medford urban reserve as proposed by the County may be viewed here.

On 17 March 2012 the Land Conservation and Development Commission reviewed the Regional Plan and recommended a few changes before they would consider approving it. The County held hearings in the summer to narrowly consider LCDC's recommendations. Following their adoption of the revised Plan, the City of Medford and other cities adopted the Plan.

In November 2012 the Land Conservation and Development Commission considered the Plan and received testimony, after which the members unanimously approved it. Their final order was issued in March 2013 and the the appeal period ended on 3/28/2013. 

Urban Reserve

It's common to mistake urban reserve for urban growth boundary, or to use the terms interchangeably. They are distinctly different things, but there are planning terms you have to know to appreciate those distinctions:

Oregon  land use law is different than that in other states:

In Oregon the urban growth boundary (UGB) is used to control sprawl and protect farmland. In other states it may be used to establish the future boundaries of a city in order to prevent competitive annexations.

In Oregon the UGB is based on demonstrated need for land for growth. Elsewhere it might be based on a municipal service extent, such as a sewerable limit.

The urban growth boundary is a 20-year reservoir of land for growth. Cities periodically check that supply against revised estimates of land need (based on population projections, housing and economic need analyses, and inventories of buildable land). What is in a UGB will be eligible at some time for annexation and urban development.

The urban reserve (UR) is wholly unique to Oregon. It relates to UGBs in this way: When cities determine they need more capacity for growth they might amend their UGBs to encompass more land. In State law there is a priority list of land types that cities have to follow when they want to include land; the highest priority is urban reserve land. It ranks above rural non-agricultural land (so-called "exception" land) and above agricultural land. What is more, it may comprise those types plus others.This is a valuable asset for a city. Rather than picking through inefficiently used land looking for enough capacity to satisfy the need, a city chooses the best areas for growth according to Goal 14boundary location standards.

Medford  has about 18,000 acres in its urban growth boundary. The proposed size of the urban reserve is approximately 6,400 acres (counting the parkland).

What the hearings are about

The City reviewed the draft of the Regional Plan in order to make its recommendation to Jackson County, which also considered the Plan for adoption. Ultimately, the City adopted the same Regional Plan the County adopted. There is no such thing as unilateral adoption: in order for the Plan to operate, all the parties it involves have to agree to its terms.

The Regional Plan is the culmination of the RPS process. It contains a history of the process, the justification of the urban reserve choices, and the methods for implementing the Plan. The second volume contains appendices and the third is the atlas.

Every proposal for a legislative amendment begins with a goal: recalculate the housing needs of the community; change fence regulations; amend the urban growth boundary, to name a few. In such a process the City conducts meetings (not public hearings, necessarily, but always public meetings) where people come to express their opinions. The Planning Department staff also collects the opinions of other departments and government agencies and public & private utilities. Planning staff then drafts a proposal that is subject to further public and agency review. Finally, the proposal and the staff report go to a public hearing for a decision.

The Regional Problem Solving project has been no different—save for taking more than a decade to prepare the proposal. During that time it's been open to comment at scores of RPS Policy Committee meetings, dozens of Technical Advisory Committee meetings, open houses, and planning commission/city council meetings and study sessions. Early on there were also Citizen Involvement and Resource Lands Review Committees.

Regional problem solving. What is it?

“Collaborative Regional Problem Solving” is the title of a statutory process that enables local jurisdictions to get together to define the region's problems and to develop regional solutions.

Regional Problem Solving (RPS) also allows regions to implement the Statewide Planning Goalswithout strictly following the Administrative Rules* (OARs) of the Land Conservation and Development Commission. The participants in Bear Creek Valley RPS have created their own ways of implementing the Goals, including preserving buffers between jurisdictions, instituting a model of transportation planning that is more regionally oriented, and developing uniform, progressive agricultural buffering standards.

The statute establishing regional problem solving can be found in Oregon Revised Statutes 197.652-197.658.

* The Oregon Administrative Rules are the collected regulations created by the various departments of the State for the purposes of implementing the Statutes.

Valleywide Effort

The RPS project in the Bear Creek Valley has united the City of Medford with Jackson County and the Cities of Ashland, Central Point, Eagle Point, Phoenix, and Talent—¯as well as a number of State agencies—in a multi-year process to identify lands suitable for long-term urbanization and long-term preservation and to separate them through urban reserve designations. This will be a window 50 years into the future for urban planning and infrastructure investment, as well as planning for the agricultural industries.

The object is to prepare the valley for an eventual doubling of the population while protecting farmland from uncoordinated urban encroachment.

The land identified to accommodate a doubling of the population is only a third of the land area that is currently in cities' urban growth boundaries.

More information on urban reserve areas can be found under ORS 195.137-197.145 and OAR 660-021.

Original Deliberations

Minutes from the Planning Commission's 2004 deliberations on inclusion in the urban reserve may be found here.


Rogue Valley Council of Government: NOWX2

You may also be interested in viewing the NOWx2 brochure available from RVCOG.  This brochure ran as an insert in the Medford Mail-Tribune on 12/6/2002.

Brochure: NOWx2 Planning for Twice Our Population

Additional Department Information

Planning Department Contacts

200 South Ivy Street, Lausmann Annex, Room 240
Medford, Oregon 97501
Phone: 541-774-2380
Fax: 541-618-1708
Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday

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