The Lincoln City City Council Monday night continued to dismantle several years of vacation rental zoning work by city staff, citizen committees and several city councils. The council unanimously cancelled plans to create a vacation rental district in the southwestern reaches of the city – some of which included the old Cutler City area. The council had earlier cancelled a similar effort in the city’s north central area just south of Chinook Winds.
Although a city survey last year indicated that a considerable majority of residents preferred tighter controls on vacation rentals, the voters in May decided quite the opposite which precipitated a complete reversal of efforts to try to reassess vacation rentals. How the city will address ongoing concerns about them is unknown.
Later in the evening, City Attorney Richard Appicello asked for and was granted permission by the city council to refer allegations of his alleged malfeasance of office as City Attorney to state ethics and other reviewing agencies. The allegations, made at a previous meeting, were made by those who angrily opposed his role in developing vacation rental regulations and new zoning ordinances that would cluster VRDs in certain areas of town.
Appicello said in the past that a sizable number of permanent year round residents voiced their complaints about many who rent vacation homes – that they cause excessive noise, abundant blowing trash and a parking lot atmosphere when there isn’t enough room on the street – all of which degrades the very essence of living in a definable neighborhood and enjoying all the benefits that “normal” neighborhoods provide. Appicello has stated he was only responding to those concerns and was given clear direction from several sets of city councils over the years to address those issues – not the least of which was the last city council, four members of which decided not to run again in last month’s election.
The council vote was 5 to 1 to approve the accusations being referred to the state agencies. The idea is to give those agencies the facts of the VRD issues as faced by the city and to gauge Appicello’s role as city attorney in addressing those concerns as he went about crafting new regulatory ordinances to bring about needed changes. Mayor Don Williams, who owns a number of VRDs and who has been an outspoken critic of VRD regulation changes, voted no.
Garbage pickup rates rising a little
North Lincoln Sanitary was awarded a 3.74% rate increase to reflect the rising cost of doing business – some of that due to dropping income from recyclables, while the amount of recyclables being picked up has risen – mixed waste 5%, woody debris up 2%, causing the total tonnage of materials going to the landfill to drop 3%. Income from recyclables to North Lincoln was $38.50/ton in 2013. Today it’s just $17/ton. North Lincoln’s Tina French said some of that drop is due to China no longer accepting recyclables at the same rate as in previous years. Likewise a lot of woody
The average bill of a North Lincoln Sanitary District customer will, again, rise 3.74% which comes out to 46-cents per month.
Voyager and Lake Drive LID edges closer to approval
For the past few years, Lincoln City has been trying to convince many homeowners around Devils Lake to put in permanent sewer systems so their ancient septic tanks can be removed so they no longer leak only partially treated sewer into the lake. The result is frequent green mucky algae blooms that are harmful to pets and their owners not to mention aquatic life – both animal and plant. And it looks disgusting. Hurts tourism too. Algae blooms also cause special events with fun activities on the lake to be cancelled.
While the Devils Lake Water Improvement District plans to install lake-bottom-mounted oxygen aeration systems to accelerate the breakdown of the scum and toxins, the city of Lincoln City is launching a small scale replacement of septic tanks in a neighborhood on the southwest shores of the lake – replacing the septics with a real city sewer system. Through some grants and loans residents of Voyage and Lake Streets will soon no longer contribute to the algae blooms in Devils Lake.
City officials hope that when the new system is up and operating that it will catch-on all around the lake. Mandatory septic inspections are on the horizon because of the ever increasing number and severity of algae blooms that too often cripple the lake, regardless of the season, the weather, temperature or lake level. City officials say that the Department of Environmental Quality has taken note of the worsening health of Devils Lake and could act anytime to declare that old and no longer working septic tanks around the lake are being allowed to pollute a body of water that is home to endangered coho salmon. So the clock is ticking on several fronts. The council said all the elements should be in alignment on the Voyage and Lake Street project by the next city council meeting.
The big wave events at Nelscott Reef – Who gets to run them?
And the city council flirted with the “proper criteria” by which to properly chose which special surfing event promoters should run the annual Nelscott Big Wave competition off the beach at Nelscott. A rather pointed-debate has broken out between those who believe that a “local surfer” with historic ties to the event should be given the permit to conduct the event and those who support an international network TV production crew.
To be sure, the city council is always looking to pump up the number of tourists who motor into Lincoln City – filling city restaurants, motels/hotels, stores and shopping malls. More is always better.
To that end, City Manager Ron Chandler and City Finance Director Debbie Mammone developed a checklist to properly weigh the competition between those who want to put on the event. Both said the criteria should include; the number of years they’ve put on the event; whether they’d fulfill the requirements of the city permit; whether they maximize overnight tourist stays in local hotels and motel; the strengths of their marketing and promotional programs – local, regional, international; how well financed they are; their experience and expertise at putting on such big wave events; whether they have solid sponsorship support; and how likely are they to continue putting on the event for years into the future.
City Councilor Kip Ward was noticeably perturbed at the criteria, inferring that the “local guy” who claims to have started the event years ago should get the council’s green light. The council as a whole decided to review the proposed criteria and to return in two weeks and decide. Mammone and Chandler both urged the council to make a decision soon because the event is coming up later this summer and whoever is selected will need to have their entire promotional strategy well in place and the logistics of putting it on already in place.
The council indicated they’ll be ready to make a decision at the next city council meeting.