Nye Beach citizens and businesses: “Don’t put high priced condos and affordable housing next to Don Davis Park – We need it for tourist parking”
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A group of Nye Beach residents and business owners told the Newport City Council Monday, during a Monday afternoon workshop meeting that they were shocked to hear about plans being proposed to turn over city-owned land next to Don Davis Park to a private developer, who would then cover it with high-priced condos as well as “work force” units to the rear, with an alley between them.
Terry and Eileen Obteshka, who own a bed and breakfast in Nye Beach, told the council that they were very surprised that such a plan was “out there” and no one was even told about it. Eileen Obteshka said she was especially taken-aback that the parcel, at Cliff and West Olive, has long been designated as future parking for Nye Beach businesses because the Nye Beach commercial area doesn’t have enough parking as it is. And the Performing Arts Center needs overflow parking as well. She told the council “Many visitors come to see Nye Beach and want to shop here, and stay here, but they can’t find a place to park and do it – so they just keep driving. It hurts Nye Beach business income as well as room tax collections for City Hall.”
In conversations with other Nye Beach area residents News Lincoln County has been told that luxury condos and work force housing being situated practically on top of an iconic park, with panoramic views of the beach and ocean, seems like an insult to those who created the park and for the reasons it was created – in honor of former city manager Don Davis and to commemorate America’s Vietnam Veterans who died or were wounded in that war. They also said that many community events and celebrations that use Don Davis Park, and the gazebo building, would seem incompatible with high-priced condos, so close by, towering over their heads.
During the workshop discussion, representatives of Lincoln Community Land Trust, a local work force housing advocacy group, and Proud Ground, a similar group out of Portland, both of which would help broker the deal, said their request for proposals sent to various developers was only to “test the waters” – to see if the proposal they developed might be attractive enough. They said they wanted to have more than just ideas to share with the city council – they wanted to propose a solid project. If they couldn’t propose a solid project, they wouldn’t propose one.
City Councilors were visibly disturbed by what they heard – some saying, in so many words, that they were completely left out of the loop despite the council investing $30,000 in partnering with Lincoln Community Land Trust to explore affordable housing options. And partnering means being in the loop much earlier in any effort to formulate a deal. They felt blind-sided by the issuance of the request for proposals, then later a conceptual financial plan already in writing involving a developer.
Prominent Newport resident and former HMSC Guin Library Director Janet Webster, who comes from a very prominent Oregon developer family, suggested that before any request for proposals goes out, the city council should first educate itself on how to best provide affordable housing, and everything that goes into it before they commit to any proposal.
City Manager Spencer Nebel, somewhat echoing Webster’s comments, suggested the council reflect on what happened but also to continue to move forward in its commitment to promote and support the creation of affordable housing. But he added, in so doing the council should better coordinate these efforts with the Lincoln Community Land Trust and Proud Ground in a way that is transparent to the council and to the public, in pursuing a strategy that picks the right locations, designs and appropriate financial packaging.
Nebel said city staff will formulate such a plan and provide it to the council for review at an upcoming meeting.