WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY

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Buying Old Taft Elementary site for city park/playing fields – Protecting city drinking water supplies – Finding a home for VRD’s – Moving ahead with Voyage/Lake LID to protect Devils Lake

Old Taft Elementary property - converting to city park?

Old Taft Elementary property – converting to city park?

From School to Regional Park

As you can see from the map and diagrams, the Lincoln City City Council has its eye on the old Taft Elementary School site for use as a big new park for the city. It would sport ballfields, soccer field and covered tennis and basketball courts – even a dog park. Former city manager David Hawker told the council that negotiations to buy the old facility from the school district have been going quite well and that the district appears ready to sell it to the city for about a third of a million dollars. Hawker says the district would like to withhold a part of the site to continue storing schools buses there along with a maintenance facility. Those portions of the property the city can buy later after the school district finds another place to store the buses and work on them.

Hawker also told the council that the cost of transitioning the site from an old school to a grand sports facility could be partially covered by a state parks grant that appears well within their grasp. In addition to the grant, Hawker said that the estate of a Lincoln City resident is awarding the city a half million dollar grant for covered tennis courts at the park. Hawker says the estate is also amenable to making the covered facility useable for basketball, large picnics, festivals and special events. The facility’s roof structure would measure 55 by 115 feet with a 35 to 40 foot ceiling, capable of withstanding 100 mile an hour winds, according to Hawker.

The council voted unanimously to proceed with final negotiations with the school district to sell the property to the city. Hawker said he and city staff will also quickly apply to State Parks for a grant to get additional financial support for developing the site as a regional park.

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Lincoln City's drinking water watershed - possibly threatened by federal legislation

Lincoln City’s drinking water watershed – possibly threatened by federal legislation
Lincoln City lower left. RED area is current Forest Service land to be turned over to BLM

Protecting the city’s drinking water supply from possible near future logging

The Lincoln City City Council was surprised to learn that pending legislation in Washington DC may pose a threat to Lincoln City’s water supply. Former city manager David Hawker rang the alarm bell stating that Senator Ron Wyden’s bill to transform huge swaths of U.S. Forest Service lands into lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management poses a clear threat to the integrity of Lincoln City’s drinking water supply since much of that water comes from Forest Service lands east of the city. Wyden’s bill, he said, would place those Forest Service lands into the hands of the BLM, which practices far more aggressive logging, especially clear cutting, than the Forest Service. As a result, the city would clearly suffer higher pollution and muddy run off into it’s water intakes and filtration system.

Wyden has been trying to solve the long festering O&C Lands problem which has seen many rural Oregon counties suffer for lack of revenues from diminished harvesting on U.S. Forest Service lands. Wyden is trying to orchestrate land swaps between BLM and Forest Service holdings to get the chain saws roaring again.

The council voted to send a sternly worded city resolution to Wyden that the city wants no part of the BLM taking over ownership of forest lands from which the city draws its drinking water.

In a quick response from Wyden’s office Tuesday morning an aide to Senator Wyden said: ““Our office is more than happy to work with Lincoln City to address any concerns about the bill. Protecting clean water is a priority for Sen. Wyden. His O&C legislation already would create strong new protections for drinking water and salmon habitat, permanently conserve more than a million acres of forests and more than double the timber harvest on Oregon’s O&C lands.”

Meanwhile City Council President Roger Sprague said although Wyden’s statement sounds good he and others on the council would strongly prefer that the lands that make up the city’s watershed remain under the control of the Forest Service which he says had done a good job at protecting forest health which produces healthy drinking water. Sprague says he doesn’t want any clear cutting that sends sediment downhill into rivers and streams that deliver drinking water to Lincoln City.

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"VR" zone is in light blue. Northwest part of town, just south of Roads End.

“VR” zone is in light blue.
Northwest part of town, just south of Roads End.

In what appears to be an effort to concentrate vacation rental dwellings (VRDs) toward the north of Lincoln City, the city council Monday night moved closer to establishing a part of town where VRDs can be created and operated as a regular business – as if they were in a commercial tourist zone. No real restrictions – rentable 365 nights a year. The area of the new “VR” zone is just south of Roads End, near or on the beach from NW 39th down to NW 21st, and then, following a jagged line on the east, from Lee down to Keel, then Jetty to Keel, and then Keel down to 21st.

The proposed VR zone was described by city staff as adhering somewhat to the findings and preferences of the city’s “consensus committee” of residents, VRD owners and business owners, from general comments from the public, and the fact that the proposed VR zone area is close to tourist attractions, shopping and offering ocean views.

However, there were a number of folks who obviously wanted no part of seeing their NW 39th to NW 21st neighborhood going Vacation Rental – described as a threat to their home life and sense of neighborhood, watching the whole place turn into a series of mini-hotels. In response to that sort of statement in the past, city officials have said that Lincoln City is under the gun from the state Department of Land Conservation and Development to provide affordable housing for its residents who lately can’t find decent housing at an affordable price because of the explosive growth of VRDs. And therefore the city is out of compliance with its state approved land use goals – namely to provide affordable housing.

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This first proposed VR zone may see itself replicated in limited areas of the city as a way to put vacation rentals in confined zones, making code enforcement of their operations more effective. Where other VRDs exist, outside of VR zones, owners would be able to rent their facilities up to 30 nights a year or, in one category, 180 nights a year, depending on the circumstances. However, upon sale of the VRD or death of the owner, the VRD would revert back to being a regular home – no longer a VRD.

The city council closed the public hearing on the matter and said they would deliberate toward a decision on March 9th on whether to establish the VR zone as outlined in the illustration. Further written public comments are allowed through March 4th, delivered to city hall.

Meanwhile, on a related matter, the city council approved the descriptive language of a initiative petition appearing on the May ballot brought by some Lincoln City residents who oppose the upending of current VRD rules. Many believe that market forces alone should dictate the VRD issue – not government. Others blame the city for not further exploring other options to solve the problem.

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Voyage-Lake LID boundaries with "reimbursement" overlay in the Lake Cove area to the north.

Voyage-Lake LID boundaries with “reimbursement” overlay in the Lake Cove area to the north.

And finally, the council moved ahead on a very complicated issue surrounding the long-sought-goal of getting residents living around Devils Lake off of septic tanks and onto city sewer. Failing septic systems are blamed for the chronic fouling of the lake, complete with green slime and algae that plague it during various times of the year.

The first step toward getting homeowners hooked up to city sewer was taken Monday night when council authorized city staff to begin drawing up a local improvement district that draws a line around the Voyage and Lake Drive neighborhood. That line was originally supposed to include the Lake Cove neighborhood, just to the north, but those neighbors balked. They refused to give the city an easement for sewer pipes onto their properties. In reaction, the council told staff to create a “reimbursement district” by drawing a line around the Lake Cove neighborhood so when Lake Cove residents hook into city sewer – and they will some day – they’ll have to pay back their Voyage and Lake Street neighbors for fronting more than their fair share of the costs associated with creating the sewer collection system.

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Such pay-as-you-go sewer system installations are expected to work their way around the lake to where all homes will eventually get off their septics tanks and hook up to city sewer, allowing Devils Lake to become a blue, year round, recreational jewel.

The city council set March 9th at 6pm as the day and time for another public hearing on the issue and likely adoption of the Voyage and Lake Drive L.I.D. and the Lake Cove Reimbursement District.

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