Former mayor and city councilor Dick Anderson is back on the council in Lincoln City, garnering 3 of five votes among the councilors who were present. Wes Ryan was absent. Two other candidates for the seat, Dean Coppage and Riley Hoagland got just one vote apiece.
Anderson emphasized that he’d like to finish up planning for The Villages acquired a year or two ago as well as get some affordable workforce housing on the ground in The Villages area. He said such housing has become part of a nationwide crisis for affordable housing. Nowhere near enough of it is being provided nationwide by private developers on their own.
Anderson will be sworn back in as a city councilor at a special council meeting on the 19th. The former mayor of the town will take the seat vacated by Jim Davis who moved out of his ward and had to resign. There are nearly three years left on his term.
The politics in the room was thick but it appears that the vote solidifies the forces against Mayor Don Williams who faces a possible Oregon Ethics Commission investigation into what some believe was his attempt to use his influence as mayor to pressure city officials to change the rules regulating vacation rentals to his family’s financial advantage. He is a VRD owner – in fact he owns a number of them.
The city council has already launched its own investigation and will present their findings to the Ethics Commission. It’ll be up to the commission to decide whether those findings and/or allegations may be true and decide whether to proceed with its own course of action.
Earlier in the evening, staunch Williams supporters, including his wife Debbie, told the council that they believe Williams is a good man and a good leader. Debbie Williams stressed that she and her husband will be praying for the council regardless of how things turn out.
In other city council action the council agreed to work with Roads End residents in exploring issues surrounding the future of their properties. Year round full time residents are in the distinct minority in Roads End so it will be interesting to see what changes, if any, come about. Under the agreement to annex in to Lincoln City, Roads End property owners asked that their properties not be rezoned or that any other major land use designations be sought for at least five years.
However, since the vast majority of homes in Roads End are vacation rentals, there’s a lot of uncertainty on the street about what happens after five years. And so the improvement district members have contacted the city about possible changes in land use designations in their area.
As an a agreement to annex into the city, owners of Roads End vacation rentals are allowed to continue being vacation rentals. But after five years of being part of Lincoln City, that status could be up for discussion. Under current city vacation rental zoning (excluding Roads End), unlimited year round vacation rentals are allowed only in commercial zones. If a vacation rental is in a regular single family neighborhood zone it must be occupied for a major part of the year by its owner. And that could pose major problems for owners of Roads End vacation rentals who don’t even live in the area and have no plans to do so.
So uncertainty lies on the horizon. Meanwhile, at the request of the Roads End Improvement Association, and with the permission of the city council, city planning staff will soon begin discussions with the Roads End Improvement District about the kinds of zoning residents and other property owners of Roads End find desirable. Again, before annexation into the city, vacation rental owners were unregulated. Now that they’re approaching the half-way mark in their five year “limbo period,” everyone’s asking questions about long term zoning and other restrictions, but perhaps also opportunities, they may be facing.
In other council action, the city council agreed to place a 3% sales tax on recreational marijuana on the November 2016 election ballot.
The council also agreed to continue discussions on whether the city should buy the old Elk’s Lodge near 21st and Highway 101. Discussions revealed that some councilors think the Elk’s want too much money for it. Critics claim it is run down and moldy and likely has some hazardous materials that must be removed before any renovation could be possible, if renovation itself is even possible. The council decided to bring the issue up again during a council workshop scheduled for October 19th.
Councilors have eyed the building if only to tear it down and make room for a stand-alone Lincoln City Senior Center or simply provide more parking for the growing community center. Councilor Roger Sprague urged the council to make a serious offer the next time they have a council executive session because if some private company buys it, it’ll likely be gone and the city building complex will be boxed in with no growing room. They agreed to talk about it October 19th during an executive session after which the council could make another offer on the building.