News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Huge crowd on hand for Detroit code, RV debate

A standing-room-only crowd of more than 50 people crammed into the City Council chamber at the Detroit Community Center on Tuesday night to hear a debate on the city’s development code revision.

City officials, led by the planning efforts of Mcrae Carmichael of the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments, have put together a complete rewrite of city development rules, but a rule in the code that would limit RVs on residential lots has split the community and brought out the night’s crowd.

Nearly 20 people wore light blue T-shirts that featured an image of a travel trailer amid language that cited the “Spirit of Detroit,” “Long Live Tradition” and advocated “Lake, Sun, Family, Fun and RVS.”

Eleven community members spoke during the 35-minute public comment period of the hearing, with 10 expressing opposition – sometimes emotionally, sometimes in strongly worded terms – to the RV limits.

“Taking away a property owner’s ability to use their property as they wish is not a sound decision,” said one community member.

“Why is the code changing?” asked one woman,who cried during her testimony as she recounted her 2020 fire losses. “What is wrong with RVs? Some of them cost more than a house.”

“There are a lot of things messing with our dreams right now,” said another resident, who also cited the Labor Day wildfires that leveled much of Detroit. “We need safe places for people to stay.”

Here is a look at a property in downtown Detroit sporting a pair of RVs. The City Council is considering a development code update that limits RVs. The council will discuss the matter again Aug. 8. James Day
Here is a look at a property in downtown Detroit sporting a pair of RVs. The City Council is considering a development code update that limits RVs. The council will discuss the matter again Aug. 8.                                                                        James Day

The community member suggested two RVs per lot without the requirement of any permits or fees and charging for permits and fees if property owners want to add a third or a fourth RV.

The new code, as written, only allows 1.

One resident spoke in favor of the RV restriction, noting that “we don’t want to turn this place into a trailer park.”

There was a thread of class distinction and polarization running through the meeting.  Comments were made accusing proponents of the RV limitation as wanting Detroit to become another Sunriver. Strong applause followed all of the comments by the pro-RV faction. Other individuals made it clear that votes are at stake.

“The people who are trying to make this change we don’t agree with might not be here next year,” said Cory Baker, who has lived in Detroit since 1970. “That’s the American way.”

Baker used harsher language in an interview after the debate.

“We’ve been violated by the fires, violated by COVID and now we’re being violated by our own City Council,” he said.

The debate is far from over. The council chose to keep the record open and accept further testimony on the code revision, which won the backing of the city’s Planning Commission on April 18.  Residents will be able to testify at the Aug. 8 City Council meeting and those who want to submit written testimony in advance can do so at [email protected].

Mayor Jim Trett said the council will deliberate on the code package on Aug. 8, but it remains unclear if the councilors will vote on the amendments.

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