City could grow 46% in 20 years

JACKSONVILLE — There’s enough buildable land in town to accommodate single-family residences for a projected 20-year population growth to 4,369 — a 46 percent increase — if the city increases densities in its hills and rural borders. But it is falling short in providing land for apartments and other multifamily homes.

A draft housing needs analysis done for the city by ECONorthwest of Portland suggests the density increase as a way to accommodate growth. Zoning would need to be revised to allow more building in the hillside and border areas, which currently don’t meet criteria considered “urban density” for areas within city limits and urban growth boundaries.

“If we kept everything at the same zoning we have now, we’d have a slight deficiency of what we'd have to have,” said Dick Converse, contract principal planner.

Converse said some residents would prefer to keep things as they are within current city limits and instead add land for growth through annexation. Generally, more dense development has occurred downtown while larger lot sizes are common in the hillside and border areas, said Converse.

ECONorthwest’s study found that Jacksonville has grown at a faster rate than Jackson County overall. Between 1990 and 2014, Jacksonville grew at a rate of 1.7 percent per year, faster than the county and Oregon. The city was up 50 percent while the county grew 42 percent and the state grew by 39 percent. The study projects a 46 percent growth rate from 2016 to 2036 for Jacksonville, which had a population of 2,985 last year.

The study found there wouldn’t be enough land for multi-family residential and commercial development, said city Planning Director Ian Foster. The city would be short 13.4 commercial acres and has only one acre of multifamily land currently available. Beth Goodman of ECONorthwest gave a presentation on the study to the City Council on Aug. 15.

A workshop will be held on the document with the Planning Commission at 6 p.m. Sept. 13 in Old City Hall, where commissioners will review the analysis and go over data. Ultimately the City Council would need to decide whether the proposals would be included in the city's comprehensive plan.

Jacksonville has only 10 acres in its urban growth boundary, an area adjacent to town designated for future annexation. Jacksonville pulled out of the Regional Problem Solving process in 2009, which was intended to identify areas for growth in the valley. Other Rogue Valley cities were able to designate urban reserve lands through that effort that later could be added to their UGBs and ultimately to the cities.

Other findings include:

  • Jacksonville has less multifamily housing than Jackson County or other cities in the region. Multifamily makes up just 16 percent of Jacksonville’s stock, 22 percent of the county and 34 percent of both Medford and Ashland.

  • Between 2000 and 2013, 353 new housing units were added in town, a growth rate of 32 percent.

  • Owner-occupied households comprise 70 percent, compared to 51 percent in Medford. Overall home ownership decreased by 7 percent from 2000 to 2013.

  • Jacksonville has 255 acres of vacant residential land with capacity to accommodate between 203 and 415 new dwelling units, depending on density. That includes 173 acres of Hillside Residential land, 29 acres of Border Residential and 41 acres of Single Family Residential land if greater densities were allowed.

“I thought one of the most interesting findings of all is that in 13 years, the median age went up 12 years,” said Converse. Median age increased from 48.2 in 2000 to 60.2 in 2013. The finding suggests that residents already in town may remain there and other older residents are joining them. Median age in the county in 2013 was 42.5 years.

— Tony Boom is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at


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