Possible Talent, Oregon Ballot Measure to build more low-income housing is under fire
Talent Urban Renewal Agency (TURA) and City of Talent have a revised plan that other agencies are speaking out against.
TALENT, OREGON: A recent City of Talent request for public input on Talent Urban Renewal Agency (TURA), has brought scrutiny from several local institutions. Jackson County Board of Commissioners, Phoenix-Talent School District Board, Jackson County Fire District 5 (JCFD5), the Local Fire Fighters’ Union, and residents have all provided letters denouncing the project for various reasons.
Brady Graham, President of the International Association of Fire Fighter (IAFF) Local #2596, gave Southern Oregon Grapevine a video interview in front of the Fire District 5’s Talent facility today. This, on a day the City of Talent will reading written comments into the public record and hearing public input in person at their regularly scheduled City Council meeting. Brady stated that he and other firefighters feel like:
…the Talent Urban Renewal program is being Pushed on the Talent Community and surrounding areas. What Urban Renewal is doing, is taking the funds that would be used by JCFD5 to protect the community. They are taking about four million dollars that would be used to protect the entire area, to use to improve their City only.
View the exclusive video at the top of this page or on YouTube.
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners submitted a letter for public input that stated stated:
…the County continues to have concerns with, and opposes, the current Draft Plan as presented. The Draft Plan has the effect of locking in the losses to property tax revenue suffered by the County, the City of Talent, Fire District No. 5, and all of the other taxing districts by the devastating 2020 Almeda Fire. Since the Fire, rebuilding and recovery in the City of Talent has occurred, but has not been completed. By adopting the Draft Plan, the replacement improvements for those improvements lost in the Fire, which were funding local government services before the Almeda Fire, will not provide revenue that the taxing entities had relied upon to fund critical services. (View Commissioners’ letter – PDF)
The Phoenix-Talent School Board also submitted a letter for public opinion, in which they stated:
Although we do agree that that the City of Talent does need to focus on recovery efforts from the the Almeda fire, specifically the needs to recover affordable housing, revitalize commercial areas, upgrade city infrastructure, decrease risk and increase resiliency, we also believe that this proposed project is happening too soon. (View School Board’s letter – PDF)
Jackson County Fire District 5’s Board of Directors submitted a letter to the TURA and the Talent City Council, through Dunn Carney LLP, the district’s attorney, stating:
JCFD5 district residents in Phoenix and unincorporated Jackson County and its community partners do not have a voice in Talent’s governing decisions, yet they are nevertheless impacted by Talent’s choices. Throughout this process, JCFD5’s voice has not been heard. Contrary to Talent Urban Renewal Agency (“TURA”) representations that it values opportunities for meaningful dialogue and considerations of how to limit reductions to fire service funding, JCFD5 only received formal notice of the new Plan without any advanced discussions or collaboration. (View the Fire District’s letter – PDF)
Many citizens have commented both for and against the TURA plan. One notable resident is former Phoenix, Oregon Mayor Chris Luz, who also submitted a letter to Talent City Council and TURA providing a insight from his experiences as a Mayor. Mr. Luz stated that:
The proposed Almeda Fire Recovery and Revitalization Plan falsely claims to fund projects that are deemed necessary as a result of the Almeda Fire and that are designed to aid in recovering from the wildfire’s impacts. The plan includes upgrade projects that appear to have very little if anything to do with the results of the Almeda Fire. The desire for many of these upgrades existed before the fire. (View Mr. Luz’s letter – PDF).
The Talent City Council and TURA have presented their second draft of the Urban Renewal Plan, and will now consider public input, which closed for submission on February 14, 2023. They will decide if they are willing to sponsor a special ballot in May of this year.
by Ryan Mallory