A citizens panel called The Lincoln City Technical Advisory Committee on Housing Needs and Economic Opportunities met for a few hours this week – going over a lot of subject matter well covered over the past five years in Lincoln City; Lincoln City needs more well paying jobs, affordable housing and new special events to pump up the town’s tourist trade.
The more salient suggestions surrounded getting local high schools to offer more skill training that garners bigger paychecks. Also to make more ready for sale/market the town’s industrial and commercial lands. They also called for more expert analysis of the town’s potential – one being recruiting those who make their living with computers at home – while also claiming that local internet service could be better.
Then came the main event. AFFORDABLE HOUSING. The committee acknowledged that there seems to be an abundance of higher end housing – some of which is being converted to vacation rentals. There was some talk of putting a cap on the amount vacation rentals relative to total housing or as a percentage of lower cost housing.
The committee also talked about seeking funds to help low to middle income families get in to “some kind of housing,” admitting however, that arithmetic gets in the way without some kind of government subsidy. One suggestion involved building fee surcharges on new construction. No word on how much money might be raised or how much of a dent it would make in the community’s housing crisis.
As for where future housing and commercial development might be built the committee agreed that it should be out and away from the state designated tsunami zone. Since there are many properties in the zone, the question of limiting development on those lands might land the city smack in the way of another kind of tsunami – property owners in that zone suing the city for stripping most, if not all value, from their land. One suggestion centered around taking the value of those tsunami lands and selling them to other developers who can use them to expand construction on non-tsunami inundation properties. That seemed agreeable to the committee.
On a somewhat editorial note, one issue that didn’t get any real attention, related to affordable housing, was the fast evolution going on nationwide about fabricated homes – 60 day delivery of a new home from the day a family signs on the dotted line. Very attractive steel fabricated homes and high-rises are coming in to vogue all across the country, including Canada, mainly because of their high quality and far lower cost – as much as 40 to 60% lower than wood frame homes or apartments. Another advantage, they don’t get mold, wood rot or fall down in an earthquake. Type in steel fabricated homes in the You Tube search bar and be prepared to be impressed.
This steel fabricated variable should be part of any discussion and credible strategy in reversing the country’s housing crisis – perhaps solvable for many families if communities, along with state and federal governments embraced the trend and focused more on providing deferred low or no interest loans for down payments to get home ownership within reach of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of American families. Low cost financing was done nationwide for returning American soldiers, sailors and marines at the end of World War II, sparking the biggest housing construction boom in our history.
It’s an option that’s out there hiding in plain sight.