Lincoln City City Council: A neighborhood thing, someone to really admire, still talking trash but it’s been a good summer so far for tourists!
Establishing neighborhood associations
The Board of Directors of the Roads End Improvement District (REIA) put on a full court press on the Lincoln City City Council Monday night, touting their long history of service to the Roads End area. One by one, REIA board members and boosters pointed to their 40 years of being the “traditional” neighborhood association which they claimed made them uniquely qualified to be an “official” city recognized neighborhood association.
Under state land use laws, cities and counties must foster neighborhood associations which can provide valuable perspectives in land use matters, whether for new development or a different kind of development within specific neighborhoods. REIA board members admitted that they weren’t happy about being annexed into the city, but since they are in the city, they want to ensure that their membership voices are heard and taken seriously in the way their neighborhood moves forward as part of the city.
Another neighborhood association, the Roads End Property Owners (REPO) said they’re not so much seeking official standing with the city but rather that the city realize they’re concerned about preserving member property rights in the Roads End area – which could mean everything from adding on to their properties and/or changes in vacation rental dwelling unit regulations. A REPO spokesman said his group supports REIA being THE official neighborhood association for the Roads End area.
The council took those comments to heart and granted REIA official status as the “go-to” group as a sounding board for issues affecting the Roads End area. Although awarding the official designation, the council gave REIA a year to strengthen their by-laws to ensure there is an official REIA spokesperson for the group and provide that person’s mailing address, or addresses if there are more than one spokesperson.
Another issue the council wanted fixed is the REIA’s grievance procedures. Under advice of their Community Development Director Richard Townsend, the council told REIA board members they need to craft a procedure whereby members can question activities, policies and recommendations of the association as they advise the city. The council wanted to make sure that all voices in the association are heard when the association makes recommendations to the city on municipal projects or policies initiated by the city.
Again, the REIA was approved as the official neighborhood association for the Roads End area but they were told to fix the deficiencies as outlined in the city staff report on the spokesperson and grievance procedure elements.
The other neighborhood group the city is trying to create has been loosely referred to as the Devils Lake Neighborhood Association (DLNA). But right from the “get-go” the council took one look at the size of the membership area and said “no…it’s too large.” In fact it encompasses about a third of the population of the whole city. So they gave DLNA’s board more time to establish association boundaries that makes sense to the residents in the area. Maybe even establish several separate associations. The council also wants the DLNA board to better define who is, or isn’t a member and to better advertise and promote their board’s meeting dates and times.
So it’s back to the drawing boards for the DNLA. But the consensus seemed to be that they will get an association designation, but their proposal still needs a lot of work.
Praising Dr. Sheridan Jones
One of the top ranking geologists in the state came to praise Lincoln City’s Dr. Sheridan Jones in front of the city council Monday evening. In fact, people were waiting in line to heap praise on who Lincoln City considers its guiding light on general health issues, not the least of which is surviving a Cascadia Subduction Zone shaker and the tsunami that is expected to come after.
State geologist George Priest, who is one of the state’s leading researchers and authorities on the offshore subduction zone recently released a massive number of tsunami inundation zone maps that coastal residents can use to direct them to higher ground, that is, after the shaking stops. Priest said Dr. Jones has been a tireless contributor to spreading the word as well as educating the public on what they need to stockpile to help them survive the aftermath. Priest said Dr. Jones is a statewide figure on emergency preparedness and a rare and talented champion for the cause.
But the story doesn’t end at earthquake and tsunami preparedness, Dr. Jones is well known for giving advice and recommendations on health in general, exercise, diet, general wellness programs, even pet care. Those who lauded Dr. Jones said Dr. Jones offers educational programs at fire departments, churches, the community center – any venue where he can spread his knowledge about how to live long, happy and healthy lives. And he’s a weather data collector to boot.
When all the accolades were through Dr. Jones thanked them all for the honor and reiterated that although he’s been a feature in the community for decades on end, he has no plans to go anywhere else anytime soon – which drew a standing ovation from everyone in the city council chambers.
Tieing up “loose ends” on trash pick up in Lincoln City
The city council invited North Lincoln Sanitary’s chief spokeswoman Tina French to the council chambers to give them some idea on how to get more residents to sign up for trash pickup. French told the council that based on the number of water customers the city has, there’s 400 residents out there that are not participating in trash pickup. That’s a litter and clutter issue for the city as well as lost revenue for North Lincoln Sanitary that has to be made up by the rest of the company’s customers because it costs what it costs to provide the service city-wide.
French said North Lincoln Sanitary would like to work with City Manager David Hawker on trying to reduce the number of customers who aren’t signed up – even though by law they’re supposed to be (with some exemptions). So they’re going to try to match water bill addresses that are not participating in trash pickup. French said one idea they’re prepared to offer is a “stand by” rate for those who don’t have a lot of trash or who don’t spend much of time at their “Lincoln City home” rather than another. She said North Lincoln Sanitary could offer an “on call” base rate of $5 a month with the customer calling for for pickup only when needed. It could be once a month, or every other month. Whatever the need is.
French said any public utility works best when everyone participates – like sewer and water – even providing for police and fire protection. When everyone is “in,” the costs go down for everyone. The council asked French and City Manager David Hawker to keep working on the issue and report back when they’ve come up with a way forward.
Major water projects move ahead
City Engineer Stephanie Reid asked the city council to approve the replacement of a section of pipe that crosses Schooner Creek near the town’s water treatment plant. Reid says a big storm in 2011 caused the pipe’s crossing of Schooner Creek to be exposed. She said the pipe, which is the city’s main connection from the water plant to the entire town, is a sitting duck for any large debris that might come down Schooner Creek and hit it.
The council gave Reid the green light to proceed with the $616,000 project which involves boring a small tunnel under Schooner Creek and shoving the pipe through to the other side. From there the pipe will connect with the main line that runs into town along Schooner Creek Road. Another line that feeds drinking water to town heads south from the plant and hooks up to a large pipe that connects to another line running along Highway 101. That’s the “backup line” should the Schooner Creek route fail for some reason.
But as it turned out, Reid said the city needs to upgrade the pipe from this alternate route as well. It runs north through Cutler City and crosses Schooner Creek at the entrance to Taft. Reid said the pipe that crosses the creek is attached to the bridge – a structure that will eventually be replaced or upgraded by ODOT.
Reid pitched the council on boring another tunnel under Schooner Creek and routing this “backup” line into Taft from the south. The council went along with the plan. Reid got approval to spend $190,000 for engineering services to disconnect the old pipe from the Schooner Creek Bridge and install a new pipe near the same right of way, but under the river. Reid said that ODOT knows they have to upgrade the bridge but they’re not sure when that might be done. This way, said Reid, the city can take matters into their own hands and go for the “permanent fix,” independent of the fate of the bridge.
And finally – tourism looking up in Lincoln City
After several years of lackluster tourism seasons, it appears that the crowds are back and the money is flowing into Lincoln City. City Manager David Hawker reported to the council that room taxes are up substantially, even more due to the recent annexation of Roads End which has hundreds of vacation rental dwellings. Hawker said room tax collections all told were up in the first six months of 2014 by over 16%. 5.7% not counting Rose End.
Hawker cited other signs that the economy is coming back in Lincoln City in that building activity was up 111% in the first six months of the year. Trash and wood waste is up 16%, recycling is down 3% and garbage volumes are up 11% during the first six months of 2014. Hawker said that it remains to be seen whether the second half of the year will be as lucrative for the city as the first half.