County considers 5 new code amendments

Siege Schatza
IVN copy editor

The Josephine County government identified five more amendments to the county code for the JoCo Commissioners to review, and these were brought forth during their April 3 weekly business session, held at Grants Pass’ Anne G. Basker Auditorium.
As with the previous round of code-related ordinances last month, JoCo legal counsel Leah Harper was available to explain the changes and answer any questions the board may have had. The first four of the five ordinances were full repeals of subsections within Chapter 2 of the county code.
Prior to the start of public hearings in regard to each respective code change ordinance, all three commissioners voted to read them by title only, rather than their full text, in order to keep proceedings brief. The changes were described as “housekeeping” matters, as their impact on the community will be minimal.
Ordinance 2024-006 repealed Chapter 2.30: Urban Area Planning Commission.
“This ordinance was adopted back in 1981,” Harper said. “It created the Urban Area Planning Commission, which dealt with matters in the urban growth boundary such as building codes and zoning issues. The ordinance dealt with the conduct of the meetings, how they were conducted and who was to attend the meetings. The city of Grants Pass is now making all of the appointments to the Planning Commission and conducting all the meetings, so this ordinance no longer has any effect and should be repealed.”
Harper’s explanation for the repeal of Chapter 2.40: Jackson – Josephine Region Regional Board via Ordinance 2024-007, was also concise: “This ordinance was adopted back in 2000 under state law. Its purpose was to administer economic development funds through lottery dollars. The program from the state was sunset back in 2009, so the Jackson – Josephine Region Regional Board has not existed since 2009 and the ordinance needs to be repealed.”
Just seven minutes into their meeting at this point, the commissioners moved in to their third public hearing, in regard to Ordinance 2024-008, a repeal of Chapter 2.45: Jefferson Behavioral Health.
Per Harper, “This ordinance was adopted back in 1997 to create Jefferson Behavioral Health. It was an intergovernmental entity with five different Southern Oregon counties to administer mental health funds. When the state enacted community care organizations, the funding stream for behavioral health changed. So Jefferson Behavioral Health was dissolved back in 2012 and this ordinance should be repealed too.”
Rolling right along, Harper was asked to provide the justification for Ordinance 2024-009, a repeal of Chapter 2.50: Job Council, which she stated as follows: “This ordinance was created back in 1999. The Job Council was an intergovernmental entity which provided workforce investment training under federal law. In 2014, the federal law changed so that that government structure was no longer allowed, and so the Job Council dissolved back in 2014. This ordinance also needs to be repealed.”

Lastly, Ordinance 2024-010 amended Chapter 2.55: Solid Waste Agency.

“The intergovernmental entity for the Solid Waste Agency was created back in 2001,” Harper explained. “It was just Josephine County and the city of Grants Pass. Since then, in 2009, the city of Cave Junction has joined and so the only changes to this ordinance are to include the city of Cave Junction as it should be, as it’s part of it. And also we changed the name of the entity from the Josephine County – City of Grants Pass Solid Waste Agency to just the Josephine County Solid Waste Agency.”

Thanks to Harper’s brief, to-the-point explanations, no questions from the commissioners, and lack of any citizen feedback during the public hearings, all five first readings were done and dusted just 13 minutes into the session. Each was unanimously approved for a second reading to take place Wednesday, April 17.

Immediately following the hearings, Commissioner Herman Baertschiger said, “I’d like to thank the audience for patiently waiting for us to get through all this stuff. In the legislative business, we call that ‘how the sausage is made.’”
Several meeting regulars did weigh in during requests and comments from citizens, with topics centered on other local organizations. The Grants Pass City Council was criticized for canceling their public meeting that was scheduled for later that evening; Grants Pass School District faced condemnation for their ongoing policy of not allowing public testimony during their meetings unless the subject was covered during their agenda; and one citizen accused local law enforcement of bullying community members that speak out against them.

Before the meeting ended, DeYoung issued an apology to the Shriners organization, which rented out the arena at Josephine County Fairgrounds but was unable to use it due to unsanitary and disorderly conditions. DeYoung called the situation embarrassing.

The Josephine County Board of Commissioners will reconvene this morning, April 10, at 9 a.m. in the Anne G. Basker Auditorium. In addition to recognition of employees, the board will be holding a public hearing for the first reading of an ordinance updating rules for accessory dwelling units under Title 19.