Apr 172013
Depoe Bay Harbor World's smallest

Depoe Bay Harbor
World’s smallest

Mayor AJ Matilla wound up getting what he wanted Tuesday night although a reluctant city council nervously chewed on the particulars before voted in his favor.

Mayor Matilla recently ran into some costly repairs to his main fishing boat which required him to keep it in the repair shop for a long time. “Money’s tight,” Matilla told his fellow councilors. However, with his boat out of the water for longer than the 90 day limit, the Harbormaster revoked his lease pointing to a very long waiting list for others who want a slip. So Matilla’s dock-spot was revoked and turned over to somebody else.


That riled Matilla. He declared that the whole situation was badly handled and asked the city council to change the rules that would have let him replace his boat with another boat, although it would have been technically too small for such a large slip.

The matter was referred to the Harbor Commission. But the commission didn’t blink. They swiftly sent their recommendation to the council that if a boat owner needs to remove his craft for a while, that would be fine but for no longer than 90 days. The waiting list continued to be the main issue.


Matilla made no secret of his complete disagreement with the commission and urged the council to adopt his position; no time limit as long as another boat, owned or controlled (leased) by the slip holder, had it parked in the slip. Councilor Barbara Leff said it didn’t set well with her that there be no time limit on how long the original boat could be absent. But in the end, she and other fence-sitting councilors voted in favor of the rule change and told City Clerk Recorder Pury Murray to draw up the new ordinance which will be presented at the next city council session for formal adoption.


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 Posted by at 2:03 AM
Apr 172013
Depoe Bay Boat Launch Getting a new boating safety reminder center.

Depoe Bay Boat Launch
Getting a new boating safety reminder booth.

The local Coast Guard Auxiliary has asked for and received permission to proceed with establishing a boating safety booth adjacent to the Depoe Bay Harbor boat launch at the south end of the bay. The auxiliary approached the city council with the idea recently and when finding that the city couldn’t fund the whole thing, set out to raise money from the community. And they did a pretty good job of it, gathering about $2,200 from various businesses, non-profits and generous individuals. However, the boating safety booth comes with a total price tag of just over $4,000. So doing the arithmetic they asked the city council to kick in $2,200 in city funds to close the gap. Which the councilors did.


When open, the booth will be a source of pamphlets and brochures full of boating safety tips, tide tables, boating regulations and other information. Those auxiliary volunteers staffing the booth will also provide the latest information on the bar and sea conditions and general weather information.

Since the booth will be pre-fabricated, it ought to go up pretty quickly once the materials are in place and all the permits have been filed.


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 Posted by at 1:41 AM
Apr 172013

Reading water meters faster while walking the route or driving it.

Reading water meters faster while walking the route or driving it.

Radio transmitter sends water usage numbers to a handheld device or to a record device inside a city utility vehicle.

Radio transmitter sends water usage numbers to a handheld device or to a record device inside a city utility vehicle.

The Depoe Bay City Council got a quick look at how future water meter bills will be created – and it doesn’t involve someone on foot dodging snarling dogs or swatting away spiders to get at the numbers on the hundreds of meters that have to be read every month in Depoe Bay.

A high tech meter reading company called Sensus, said to be the biggest firm of its kind in the northwest, pitched the council on switching to a semi-automated system that can read meters remotely with a hand held reader-recorder or from a radio remote reader by hand module or from inside a specially equipped utility vehicle. Any way you look at it, the labor savings are tremendous according to Sensus representative Todd Mitchell.

Mitchell told the council that the systems can also do a lot more than just spit out numbers on water use. They can detect abnormal consumption patterns that can suggest leaks within a customer’s home or business thereby revealing to the customer and to the city that something is wrong and needs to be fixed before the water bill goes through the roof.


Reading meters from inside passing city vehicle.

Reading meters from inside passing city vehicle.

depoe bay meter reader to computer billing

He says whether water meter read-outs are gathered by hand or through a radio remote reading system, the data is quickly uploaded to the city’s utility billing computer, recorded, and bills kicked out quickly thereby saving even more labor costs.

depoe bay meter reading radio from cardepoe bay meter reader waterproof case

Mitchell said the meters come with a 20 year warranty and the electronics associated with the meters are highly resistant to moisture and groundwater fluctuations. The critical devices are encased in thick composite plastic casings which enable the water meters, even if completely submerged in water, to transmit read-out numbers to a hand-held reader wand or to a nearby radio receiving vehicle.

The council thanked Mitchell for his presentation but gave no hint as to whether or when the town would take the leap into such high tech meter reading. They admitted however that the devices have the advantage of reducing labor costs by quite a bit. Some councilors wanted to know how much it would cost. Mitchell replied that it depends on which technology the council thinks would be the most effective for the city. He said his company can get long term financing, no problem. Councilors said they would need to see some hard numbers to determine whether the city could afford such a system or whether it would have to gently ease into it by converting more and more Depoe Bay water meters over a number of years.

Paying for such a system could come partly from labor savings in what it’s costing the city today to have all meters read by hand, various grant sources, or raising water rates. The council seemed to agree that more information and number crunching will precede any decision as to whatever the next step might be.


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 Posted by at 1:29 AM
Apr 172013
Whale Watching Center Depoe Bay Closed for remodeling

Whale Watching Center
Depoe Bay
Closed for remodeling

For some time the state has had its ear bent by those who urge Oregon State Parks to do something about the deteriorating condition of their Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay. They say the windows leak and are streaked with stains they can’t get out and the interior plaster and floors are badly damaged. In short, nothing less than a whale of a renovation is called for.

Back in February State Parks said they concurred and proceeded to put such a renovation project out to bid. During the Depoe Bay City Council meeting Tuesday night Clerk Recorder Pury Murray announced that State Parks have completely closed the whale observation building and the contractor is expected to quickly be hard at work.


Murray says the building will have all of its windows replaced along with considerable wall plastering and painting along with some attention to the floors. State Parks says the renovation will run around $100,000.

And OH! They’re going to try to have it back open sometime around Memorial Day.


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 Posted by at 12:33 AM
Apr 032013
Depoe Bay City Council Tuesday evening

Depoe Bay City Council
Tuesday evening

Depoe Bay Mayor AJ Matilla ran another quick meeting Tuesday night, getting the council finished and out the door in just over an hour. Of course two big items fell off the agenda; both due to three city councilors being absent. The mayor wanted a full house to discuss them – changing a boat slip ordinance that he, Matilla was the center of, and a complicated high tech internet service that could involve the city.

However, the other items, albeit less spectacular, were tackled adroitly by the remaining five councilors.


The first issue – how to bill Depoe Bay Harbor boat slip renters for electricity. Some don’t want to have to keep track of individual meters for each slip. They want everybody’s electrical bill averaged together. The council reasons that it’s too much trouble to track down all the renters coming and going and collecting the bills. That’s why the council has traditionally added up all the power bills for the year, averaged them together, and then billed each slip owner for the power consumed over the previous year. City Councilor Barbara Leff brought up the point that the annual power bill between boat slip renters could rise quite high – perhaps so high that the council may be exposing the city to a liability it hadn’t bargained on. The council agreed to take up the matter again after asking for guidance from the Harbor Commission. The commission will analyze the issue at their April 24th meeting, reach a recommendation and kick it back upstairs to the council. The council will presumably decide a way forward on the matter at its May 3rd meeting.


The council also learned that the city is about ready to put the City Park replacement bridge out to bid. The estimate ranges from $80,000 for a short and low bridge to just over $90,000 for a longer and higher bridge. Both versions, the council was told, would handle emergency vehicles in the event that a storm or earthquake knocked out the city’s Highway 101 bridge. The council asked City Engineer/Public Works Director Terry Owings to sharpen his pencil and have the project put out to bid. Depending on the time it takes to sharpen the pencil and stay out of the way of the 4th of July celebration, the bridge could be open for pedestrian traffic later this year. The bridge is also expected to be strong enough for more than pedestrian traffic – such as fire trucks responding along the alternate route around the harbor, if anything happens to the town’s main span.

Related to the bridge replacement, the council asked for a six month extension of time to finish the completion of the “back way” around-the-harbor trail that uses the City Park Bridge. The trail is being funded by several agencies. City Clerk Recorder Pery Murray said the “back way” trail should be done by the end of the year instead of mid-summer.


Owings and his utilities department broached the subject of how to more effectively read the town’s residential and business water meters. Right now they have to walk up to the meter, write down the numbers, take the numbers back to city hall and figure out each water bill. With two new systems, the reading and computation is much quicker and more accurate. The “touch system” requires a meter reader to stand next to a water meter, use a touch wand to contact/probe the the meter which then sends a signal of gallons used to the wand. The numbers are then downloaded to a computer which sends out the water bills. The “radio remote” system allows the water meter reader to sit in his or her truck at the street, dial in a house or business water meter remotely, receive the data on gallons used, and then go to the next water meter. It’s faster and may not require as much labor as the “touch-wand” system.


Both systems are expensive – about a third of a million dollars each. City councilors took a deep breath and decided to take the advice of staff and have representatives from each technology address the council in the near future to explain exactly how the different systems work and whether one might better serve the city than the other.

However, City Councilor Skip Hoitink said a third of a million dollars is a lot of money for a small town like Depoe Bay. He asked staff whether city resources wouldn’t be better served if they were concentrated on replacing the town’s aging distribution system – the pipes in the ground. Staff said that Councilor Hoitink’s question is very valid and obviously a subject for discussion after the water meter sales reps do their presentations before the council.


And finally, the issue of keeping Depoe Bay, the world’s smallest harbor, from silting up. Mayor Matilla told the council that the Army Corps of Engineers appears ready to schedule dredging for Depoe Bay sometime in 2014. Matilla and other fishermen have reported that the silt that comes down South Creek and flows into the Harbor is making the bay more and more shallow and dredging is the only thing that will fix it. Matilla said it might also be a good idea for the dredging to include a clam bucket to dig out the silt that has stacked up behind the South Creek Dam near where the creek flows into the bay.

And with that Mayor Matilla declared the meeting adjourned and everyone got to go home “early.”


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 Posted by at 1:07 AM
Mar 202013


City Park Bridge Depoe Bay

City Park Bridge
Depoe Bay

A quite lovely movie set, not yet discovered, is getting an upgrade this Fall in Depoe Bay. It’s the bridge that arches across the creek in Depoe Bay City Park, just off Shell Avenue. The city council Tuesday evening approved calling for bids to replace the bridge, wanting the new one in place in time for the Fall colors!

Sticker price around $62,000, all from grant money.


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 Posted by at 1:30 PM
Mar 112013

Depoe Bay Salmon Bake


The Depoe Bay Chamber of Commerce is holding their annual contest to determine this year’s Salmon Bake logo. The selected logo will be used on Salmon Bake posters, clothing and in various forms of advertising. A two hundred dollar ($200.00) cash prize will be awarded to the contest winner. The winner’s name may be used in advertising the Salmon Bake. Last year’s winning logo was designed by Jaci McKim, whose winning logo is posted above.


All submitted drawings become the sole property of the Depoe Bay Chamber of Commerce and will not be returned. There will be no monetary value given for the submitted drawings, with the exception of the $200.00 cash prize to the winner. There is one stipulation: All drawings must incorporate a salmon of some kind. Submissions are to include the name and telephone number of the artist. All drawings must be received by the Chamber Office no later than May 17, 2013.
The winner will be contacted via telephone no later than May 31, 013.

Drawings should be mailed to:

2013 Salmon Bake Logo Contest
c/o Depoe Bay Chamber of Commerce
P.O. Box 21
Depoe Bay, OR 97341-0021


The Salmon Bake is to be held on Saturday, September 21, 2013 at Depoe Bay City Park. Come out to Depoe Bay the night before for some Oktoberfest fun! Friday night, September 20, 2013 will feature good food, great beer from Bier One, and other fun Oktoberfest activities. Proceeds to benefit the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and Friends of Lincoln County Animal Shelter (FOLCAS). For more information visit www.rsvpoflincolncounty.org/oktoberfest.

The Salmon Bake is sponsored by the Depoe Bay Chamber of Commerce. Proceeds help to fund chamber activities and town events during the coming year. For more information or for questions about the logo contest, contact the Depoe Bay Chamber of Commerce. (541)765-2889 or toll free (877)485-8348.


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 Posted by at 8:44 PM
Mar 062013
Depoe Bay Harbor Dock #1 closest to  Coast Guard Station

Depoe Bay Harbor
Dock #1 closest to
Coast Guard Station

Depoe Bay City Councilors learned Tuesday evening that it may have taken two years to assess the damage, amass the list of repairs, enlist FEMA funding and other grants to fix the Japanese Tsunami damage, but it appears that repairs to Depoe Bay Dock #1 are about to be officially finished and the dock fully re-activated in the harbor. After new pilings, dock sections and new finger piers, the council was told that workers will pull out all the stops to get Dock #1 finished by around the first of May. City Clerk Pury Murray said they were hoping to have it done by March 11th, the two year anniversary of the Japanese Tsunami, but it didn’t quite work out. Total cost to replace the dock added up to $420,000 with generous funding from FEMA, a Business Oregon grant, insurance proceeds and other sources.


The council also learned that the revised Tsunami Inundation Zone map for Depoe Bay is just about ready to be released. Oregon Department of Geology and Minerals staffer George Priest told the council that the new map recognizes that an earthquake off the Oregon Coast can expect to create a tsunami of a larger magnitude that first thought, based on what was learned in the Japanese Earthquake in 2011. However, he noted that Depoe Bay sits largely far above any level that a tsunami could reach except for the harbor and some low lying areas around it, and along a creek at the south end of the harbor that flows into it.


The city council also learned about and approved five public assembly areas in the event of a near or far generated earthquake and tsunami. Those five areas are:

* Little Whale Cove Recreation Center
* East side of 101 in the Neighbors for Kids Parking Lot (Painter Street)
* East end of Collins Street
* Lane Street
* Lillian Lane, across from WorldMark

The council also received a report that city water workers are pondering the acquisition of remote reading water meters. The council approved the launching of a cost analysis of the meters which can be read remotely from the street rather than having to manually read them where they are located. No timetable for possible acquisition or installation has been forecasted.


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 Posted by at 4:39 PM
Feb 202013

Depoe Bay
Repairs ongoing

The Depoe Bay City Council got a report Tuesday evening from Oregon State Parks that they are soliciting bids from contractors to finally upgrade the Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay. The $90,000 renovation involves replacing 13 windows and interior plaster repair. State Parks, which owns the facility, says once the work begins, the center will be shut down until it’s done. They say a planned grand re-opening for the center is set for Memorial Day.

The council also received word from state and local emergency services that the idea of adding a tsunami refugee assembly
at the north end of town is probably not advised because it’s been deemed too far into an already safe zone. State Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) said there is a site closer to where people live and gather on the west side of Highway 101. So, for now, there is no official addition to the number or locations of tsunami evacuation gathering areas for Depoe Bay other than what are aleady indicated in official DOGAMI tsunami zone maps.


The council also awarded a bid to the only contractor that submitted a bid to replace the finger docks that connect to the rebuilt Dock #1. Although the old finger piers were still functional, the new dock is metal and would operate better if the finger piers were metal too, according Public Works Director Terry Owings. With the bid awarded to the company, Owings said they expect the new finger docks to be installed by the end of April. The council noted that between “in water” construction restrictions, paperwork filing with FEMA and general construction season limitations, it will have taken the city over two years to repair the damage caused by the March 11, 2011 Japanese Tsunami.


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 Posted by at 9:51 PM
Feb 062013

Depoe Bay City Council
Tuesday, February 5

The Depoe City had a wide range of issues to get through Tuesday night, among them wondering when their “World’s Smallest Harbor” might get dredged again. It was said that it’s been since 2005 in certain areas of the harbor and 2009 in others since the harbor got some TLC. Councilor Barbara Leff observed that dredging Depoe Bay is important to the city’s economy and further observed that there is no money in the federal budget to dredge it this year. And with all the political battles going on in Washington D.C., dredging in the 2014 fiscal year is in no way assured.

Depoe Bay Harbor
Last dredged 2005/2009

Leff told the council that there is a special federal dredging and port improvement fund supported by revenues from the nation’s ports that is supposed to be put to work keeping America’s bays and harbors working smoothly for commerce. “But I’ve been told that the six billion dollars in the fund has been tucked away to help lower the appearance of the federal deficit,” said Leff. “That money is supposed to be spent, not withheld.” It was observed by another city councilor that the Army Corps of Engineers no longer will be dredging behind the Depoe Bay check dam. The Army Corps reportedly would like the check dam removed and let the sediment behind it flow into the harbor to be scooped up with the rest of the sediment and silt on the harbor bottom. Staff said it would look into the issue.

Typical DOGAMI Tsunami Map
Depoe Bay’s latest map is ready to be released soon

City Councilors learned that the State Department of Geology is about to release its latest tsunami inundation maps for Depoe Bay. They were recently revised partly due to the behavior of the recent Japanese Tsunami that inundated more land and higher up than was forecasted. The new maps being issued by the agency for the Oregon Coast also show more broad and higher elevations being affected by a tsunami generated by an earthquake like the Cascadia Subduction Mega-thrust earthquake just offshore. The city council ordered six thousand of the new maps and will be placing them around town as well as available for residents. Even a refrigerator magnet version is seriously being pondered by the council.

Depoe Bay to conduct inventory
of Tsunami related signage – and fill in the gaps

The council was also told that with the new tsunami inundation maps coming out soon, the city will need to change locations of signs indicating which areas are expected to be inundated, official escape routes and gathering areas. A volunteer with CERT said she would be that volunteer and report back to the council on the need for bringing tsunami signage up to date.

Analyzing franchise fees from utilities
Serving Depoe Bay

Depoe Bay City Councilors also launched a study to determine how to standardize franchise fees derived from local utilities. The current cable TV franchise with the city is half-way through a one year extension of the old contract. Councilors said they would like to have a new contract with Wave Broadband before the extension runs out and to make sure it fits in with franchise fees as charged to other utilities like CLPUD, NW Natural Gas and others. The city attorney’s office is expected to help with the study along with volunteer help from a Depoe Bay resident who has many years of professional experience in dealing with such a complicated issue. Councilor Leff took note of the fact that Depoe Bay has no property tax, therefore long-term stable revenue sources must be firmed up. She said franchise fees may be a part of the solution.

Depoe Bay City Councilors Support Dory Fishers
Claim Historic fishing grounds threatened by LCDC

And upon hearing a report from local charter boat company owner Loren Goddard, on the final plan approved by the state’s Land Conservation and Development Commission for wave energy use of offshore waters, the council decided to send a strongly worded letter to the LCDC chiding them for deciding to sacrifice important Dory Fleet fishing grounds off Pacific City for eventual use by wave energy devices. Goddard said that while Depoe Bay and Newport areas appear to have “dodged the bullet” on further withdrawals of fishing grounds, the fact that LCDC staff ignored the community’s firm opposition to harming the historic Dory Fishing Fleet off Tillamook County. Goddard said five years of hard, honest work went into the recommendations on what areas could be given up for placing wave energy devices offshore. “Yet they ignored us on the Dory fishing community,” he said. “What other area might LCDC staff declare suitable for wave energy expansion on a similar whim?” The protest letter to state LCDC was passed unanimously. Goddard thanked them for their support, adding that the Dorymen Fishing Association is appealing the loss of a prime fishing area off Pacific City.

Comments were made and echoed by several city councilors that the wave energy industry has yet to produce any wave energy device capable of producing electricity at rates that the average Oregon family can afford. Electricity from current prototypes is said to be four to five times higher than current power rates. If actually placed in the waters off Oregon, the devices would force the federal government to pay huge subsidies to wave energy investors to give them a high enough return on investment, while, at the same time shielding electricity customers from sky high power bills. In essence a long-term steady drain on the U.S. Treasury to subsidize wave energy. Such experimentation is falling out of favor in Europe where Germany has begun to curtail the expansion of wind, solar and wave energy and re-assessing their approach to reducing their carbon footprint.

Courtesy graphic

On another green energy front right here in Oregon, AltaRock Energy, which runs an experimental injection geothermal project south of Bend, just struck pay dirt by proving that multiple underground lakes of 800 degree water can be created at a depth of 10,000 feet. The next step in the process is to pump that hot water back up to the surface and run it through heat exchangers which creates steam to drive electric turbines. It represents a breakthrough in devising ways to use green energy not just when the sun shines, wind blows or waves head for shore, but with a steady flow of power everyday of the year, 24/7 virtually pollution free. AltaRock spokesmen say multiple extraction wells from a single injection site greatly reduces the cost of such power generation. They say they’ll need at least another three to five years to prove out the technology. The U.S. Department of Energy, Google, Khosla Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Advanced Technology Ventures and Vulcan Capital are major financial backers of the Newberry Crater project.

Meanwhile many wave energy experts predict it could take five to eight years to perfect their technology.

So the race is on.

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 Posted by at 1:09 AM