The project will begin where the current trail crests at the top of Cape Foulweather, then proceeds southward from there all the way to 3rd Street and then to Devil’s Punchbowl at Otter Rock. The pathway will be protected by a guard rail for the convenience and safety of trail users.
The only glitch in the deal for County Commission Chair Terry Thompson when he asked who will maintain the trail? The county or state parks. He said “When that trail goes in, the coastal weather will guarantee there will be many slippery areas with moss and vegetation. Who is going to maintain it?” County staff said “That’s a good question!” Staff said they’d check in to it. Thompson observed that the Otter Crest Loop Trail has some verrrry steep cliffs down to the ocean below and so the trail will have to be well maintained. He said that it’s a State Parks trail and so it ought to be up to them to maintain it.
The trail expansion across Foulweather should be complete by September of next year.
The county commissioners also signed on the dotted line for agreement with the city of Newport to help spur new construction for affordable housing. Mostly apartments. The county and Newport now have an agreement to make it easier for housing oriented non-profit organizations and other entities that qualify for providing such housing, to partner with the city, which owns a lot of land through tax foreclosures.
The city will be taking applications to build affordable housing, with or without city land, to help alleviate what is a full blown housing crisis – not only in Newport but across Oregon. In addition to city-owned land, there are other incentives to jump-start a project like property tax exemptions on such developments for the foreseeable future – discounted or eliminated System Development Charges (SDCs) for streets, water, sewer, schools and other community utilities. Also, where appropriate, the elimination of Construction Excise Taxes.
So now that a cheaper way forward for building affordable housing has been created, the city will be working with housing contractors already working in the area at South Beach, near Little Creek Apartments off NE 36th and in the Nye Beach area. There will be more.
Although all this is in place, it still takes time to construct housing. Granny houses are becoming popular as are pre-constructed components of modular homes – single family, duplexes and tri-plexes. They that can be delivered to a site and assembled in less than three months. There is also a rapidly growing sector to the affordable housing market – it’s called “4 over 1” or “3 over two” mixed use mid-rise buildings. These housing projects could guarantee solid profit margins for developers by building five story buildings with retail stores on the ground floor, professional offices on the second floor, and then three stories of affordable apartments. This cuts down the cost of land per dwelling unit because all residents are pitching in – plus the commercial and professional offices will be paying higher commercial and professional lease rates.
So, the pieces are in place. And as they say at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, “Gentlemen, start your engines!” Oregon’s housing situation couldn’t be more in need.