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Letter from County Commissioner Chris Boice

12:27 AM · Nov 28, 2019

Contention Does Not Solve the Crisis The recent news stories pitting the City of Roseburg and the County Commissioners against each other in controversy over the temporary respite shelter do not tell the whole story. What looks like a fight between municipal managers is really frustration by both entities over a very complex problem. While it is true that the City and County have slightly different viewpoints about how we got to where we are, one thing is for sure. There is still a problem that needs to be solved and the two entities are willing to work together to find solutions. The reality is that the County is more than willing to follow the law and intended to do so. There is no Conditional Use Permit required for a rain shelter and we did not need one to place the shelter, a picnic table, a port-a- potty, a trash can, and a sharps container. The need for a Conditional Use Permit came when users of the facility decided to stay on a more permanent basis. The County was told we needed a C.U.P. if people are going be allowed to sleep there or stay there continuously (camp) and we did not intend for that to happen. When the users of the facility began to stay there on a more permanent basis the County recognized the need for the C.U.P. We then asked Keith Cubic, retired Planning Director of 40 years to process the application. After meeting with neighboring property owners and then City staff and discussing the rules and the process, it became apparent that a permit could not be obtained. It was then that the County, to be in compliance with applicable law, knew the shelter needed to be removed. We basically discovered that current land use codes do not allow for that type of a facility with the current zoning. There was no use applying for a permit that can’t be awarded... It was not my intention to smear the City in any way, rather to explain the difficulties we are all dealing with in addressing this growing issue and the reasons why the shelter needs to be removed. The new City Manager, Nikki Messenger and the Police Chief have been involved in the conversation from the beginning and have both been great to work with. They were both told and I believe understood that if a permit could not be obtained that we would remove the shelter. I have been in direct communications with Mayor Larry Rich over the past two days. Regardless of any miscommunications or misconceptions that may have occurred, He and I are committed to put this issue behind us and will be working together to solve the very specific problem of cleaning up the courthouse campus and making the employees that work here and members of the public that visit feel safe coming to and from the building throughout the day. The County will still stand ready, willing and able to help the City however we can in addressing the larger issue of homelessness within the City. Sincerely, Chris Boice Douglas County Commissioner