“LEFT TURN, CLYDE”
Some folks may wonder what took them so long – but the upshot is, THEY’RE FIXING IT!!
It’s that white-knuckle producing moment as you’re southbound on 101 at the north end of Lincoln City, and you want to turn left onto East Devil’s Lake Road. Cars coming right up your trunk, oncoming traffic isn’t slowing down and you have your left blinker on. Just two lanes – and you’re all alone except for the angry guy in your rear-view mirror giving you funny looking hand signals.
However, those stressful moments will soon be a thing of the past. The city council Monday night approved an agreement with ODOT for them to construct a nice long left turn lane at East Devil’s Lake and 101. Installation of that left turn lane, the widening of the highway to accommodate it, and the city having to move a water line as a result of the project, will be paid for by ODOT.
City staff told the council that ODOT should have the left turn lane installed and ready for use by March.
THE ANSWER IS NO!
It appears that more and more real estate outfits are learning that Lincoln City City Hall owns some rather prime real estate on the hill at the north end of town – above Roads End. The city bought “The Villages,” all 362 undeveloped acres of it, from a developer whose construction plans were interrupted by the recent recession. The city paid about two and a half million dollars for it. It’s worth a lot more now.
And ever since, the city has been occasionally solicited to sell it and return the investment bqck to the taxpayers. Monday night another would-be buyer, a Patrick Harney, working through local Prudential Real Estate broker Dennis Reagan, pitched the council to sell it to Mr. Harney.
Reagan said the city bought the land and hasn’t done anything with it. Meanwhile, the city’s been losing a lot of property tax revenues by it being off the tax rolls – and that the city will continue to lose money on it with every passing year. Reagan also revealed that Mr. Harney would be willing to deed back to the city 60 of the 362 acres for parks and open space.
City Attorney Richard Appicello reminded the council that the city cannot entertain any offer for any city property until certain legal procedures are followed. Appicello said laws require the city council to discuss and then decide whether selling the property is in the public interest or would produce a public benefit. Then the council would have to hold a public hearing(s) and then issue requests for proposals on the ultimate disposition of the property. Then later it would be put out to bid.
The council then adjourned to executive session and behind closed doors deliberated on what was agendized as a real estate matter. At the end of the executive session councilors returned to the council chambers to announce, an offer for The Villages was turned down. It wasn’t announced whether it was Mr. Harney’s offer that was turned down. By turning down such offer, it would not have been run through the above stated public hearing(s) or public benefit determinations or a bidding process.
Going back a year or two, when the city purchased the property from a distressed developer, it was widely acknowledged that the city had specific plans for the property which included preserving The Knoll – a rolling green meadow atop the hill that overlooks Roads End, the blue Pacific and the rest of Lincoln City, clear past Cape Foulweather – a breathtaking vista, which would remain open for public use and enjoyment in perpetuity.
Another part of those plans included devoting a sizeable part of The Villages for affordable housing, or workforce housing as it’s sometimes referred to – either single family homes, condos or apartments. The council back then decided that Lincoln City, with it’s growing numbers of homes being transformed into vacation rentals, low to moderate wage tourism service workers were having a tough time finding any housing they could afford in Lincoln City, a situation that continues to this day. So the city council decided it was time for local government to step in and tip the balance in favor of workers who increasingly were having to commute long distances from places offering housing they could afford.
And of course there were also commitments made to public open space, parks and trails that provide spectacular vistas of Lincoln City, the Salmon River Estuary and Cascade Head. It was always part of the plan for The Villages to be a unique piece of property for all to enjoy and to be an integral part of Lincoln City – not just another gated community for the few.
So, we’ll have to see how this and future city councils hold true to that plan or get worn down by well healed developers.
…AND CAPPING OFF LINCOLN CITY’S 50TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION!
This year, 2015, was the 50th birthday party for the City of Lincoln City – when 6 distinct communities literally stitched themselves together back in 1965 to form one incorporated city out of six communities – Cutler City, Taft, Nelscott, Delake, Oceanlake and Wecoma.
50th anniversary observances have been going on all year. The final one is coming up on the Winter Solstice, Monday, December 21st the shortest day of the year. It starts at 5:30pm, with a pedestrian parade along the beach from NW 40th north about a half mile, then back to the starting line. Everyone is invited to put colored lights on themselves any way they’d like – the more creative the better – including light sabers, lighted lanterns, twinkling shoes, light pulsing eye-glasses, it’s all good!
At the end there will be a final celebration at Chinook Winds which will provide snacks and drinks while everyone praises the good work of local citizens doing 50 acts of love and kindness to their neighbors and community.