From Ron Brean, Mayor of Yachats
Yachats is Oregon’s only city that restricts the Council from the purchasing or selling land. This goes back to the acquisition of the Commons, a surplus school building. Some folks thought getting the community center was a great idea. Others thought it hateful, a white elephant that would saddle and drain City funds forever. The Council could have made the purchase, however they decided on an advisory ballot measure to see if citizens liked the idea. Overwhelmingly the voters said “Yes! Buy it.”
But opponents of the purchase led a charge to limit the purchase of property. Fearing loss of the recently acquired Commons, the other side of the debate said “Fine…but let’s restrict property sale too.” There is debate about the wisdom of this approach (considering weakened negotiating position, lost opportunities, etc.) but it established an equilibrium and resulted in a City Charter change.
Current proposed ballot Measure 21-155 is a result of the change. The Council needs permission to do its job. Businesses have long been asking the City for more parking. The City hasn’t had the authority to buy property as a means of solving the problem. The current Highway 101 project will improve bicycle and pedestrian access, and the preliminary plans indicate it will increase parking. But it may not be enough. Measure 21-155 asks permission to buy property for parking from willing seller(s) IF it proves to be needed. Money would come from the Visitor Amenities Fund (part of hotel taxes). In other words the measure provides for visitors to pay for the parking facilities they use while they patronize stores in Yachats. An arbitrary $400,000 cap is placed on the measure, however actual expenditures will be based on a needs assessment, and could be much lower.
Please give the Council the flexibility it needs to solve problems.
Mayor of Yachats