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Small towns slowing down

Lower population projections mean less expansion under state land-use laws

Towns in Jackson County are predicted to see less growth between now and 2043 than predicted in 2015, and the new numbers will impact the ability of the cities to add land for growth under state land-use regulations.

Portland State University Population Research Center issued the population predictions for the state’s Department of Land Conservation and Development. The 2018 projections were the second conducted under DLCD, which took over the task previously done by counties and cities.

Towns predicted to have less growth than previously thought for both 2030 and 2043 include Butte Falls, Eagle Point, Gold Hill, Jacksonville, Phoenix, Rogue River, Shady Cove and Talent.

Current population figures used in 2015 for these municipalities were also decreased for the 2018 calculations.

New projections for the smaller cities in 2030, and the decreases from 2015 predictions, are:

Butte Falls - 427, down from 438

Eagle Point - 11,159, down from 12,576

Gold Hill - 1,307, down from 1,441

Jacksonville - 3,483, down from 3,980

Phoenix - 5,331, down from 6,401

Rogue River - 3,114, down from 3,421

Shady Cove - 3,749, down from 4,049

Talent - 7,314; down from 8,084

Towns have land in their urban growth boundaries that can be annexed into city limits to allow development. Some towns also have land designated as urban reserves that can be brought into the UGBs for future development through the land-use process. Cities have their own annexation processes for bringing UGB lands into city limits.

Smaller municipalities have had varying reactions to the new numbers.

Eagle Point is about where it should be for short- and medium-term growth, said Mike Upton, development director. There is quite a bit of land in the UGB that is available for development, he said.

“We don’t feel like we need to be bringing more land in from our urban reserves any time in the near future,” said Upton. “It will be at least five years or more before looking at a UGB addition.”

When preliminary numbers were first published in March, an appeal over the original projections was filed for Phoenix, which claims it has a lack of land for further building. Portland State took another look at the numbers and granted some increase, although it did not match the 2015 projections.

Phoenix officials said in July there were only nine acres of land available for housing in the city and that a UGB expansion effort might get underway later this year.

Phoenix appealed its preliminary numbers in the Region 1 forecasts published by PSU that covered 11 counties and municipalities in southern and central Oregon.

Talent did not appeal its preliminary projections. The city is now looking at ways to use land within its limits more efficiently to provide housing. While the city could bring 14 acres into its UGB, that effort would be at least several years off, said Community Development Director Zac Moody.

Rogue River has experienced low to moderate growth over the last 20 years, said City Administrator Mark Reagles. Unlike other Jackson County municipalities, voters must approve annexation of land into the city, he noted.

“No one has come to the city to annex. There aren’t any huge projects,” said Reagles. “We have mostly been building infill.”

In the 1990s, Rogue River upgraded wastewater and water-treatment infrastructure based on estimates of 5 to 7 percent growth rates that never happened, said Reagles. As a result, the city has capacity to allow for expansion should it come.

Jackson County as a whole, as well as Ashland, Central Point and Medford, are projected to see more growth by 2043 than was predicted in 2015. Medford saw a 792-person drop in the 2030 projections, but the 2043 estimates project a population of 108,638, an increase of 1,460 more than the previous projection.

Central Point is predicted to see the most growth. An additional 1,282 residents are expected to be added by 2030 for a population of 22,920.

Ashland also saw increased projections, up 357 for 2030 to 23,196 residents.

The latest PSU report and supporting documents can be found at www.pdx.edu/prc/cycle-2-region-1-documents.

Tagline: Reach Ashland freelance writer Tony Boom at tboomwriter@gmail.com.

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune{ } A couple visiting from Eugene ride their bikes through Blue Heron Park in Phoenix Sunday morning.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune{ } Traffic moves through downtown Talent Sunday morning.