WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY

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Affordable Housing playbook just might have been debuted in Lincoln County

Housing, of any variety across the country, is past the point of getting to be expensive. It IS expensive. Add in all those construction costs and the fact that vacation rentals are getting to be the new norm – certainly on the coast – prices are likely to keep going up. Affordable housing of the 1960s and 70s are gone except in re-runs of Ozzie and Harriet.

But Lincoln County officials appear to be taking steps to get a handle on this housing crisis. They’re at least trying to curb the growth of VRD’s and they’ve hired a consulting group to begin to chart a path. And they seem to be off to a good start.

Over the year-plus ahead we’re all going to be hearing about development credits, system development charges, tax abatements, exemption or reduced taxes, accessory dwelling units and yes, tiny houses.

A gathering of city, county and federal officials and consultants, have spent a lot of time putting together a plan to ensure that Lincoln County will be able to intelligently find its was forward to provide housing for all who need it. But it’s going to take a lot of work, investigating and cooperation with some pretty bright and experienced experts on how to build dwellings, from single family homes to mid-rise apartments and condos and to find an ongoing financial plan to do it.

Here’s some excerpts from a housing feasibility study just released to the county:

The following key themes emerged about our overall housing needs report.

* We have heard repeatedly that there is a need across all types and prices of housing in Lincoln County. Low achievable rents mean that multifamily housing is particularly unlikely to be built without subsidy, and there has been very little apartment construction in Lincoln County in recent decades.

* Land Supply. Supply of land in the right locations and zoned for the right housing types and densities is an issue in a number of coastal communities. Land supply is naturally constrained by the beach and ocean to the west and the hills to the east in a number of communities.

*High costs and challenges to financial viability of coastal development is everywhere.

The following issues were noted by many stakeholders:

* High labor costs and low local labor availability.
* Needed weatherization for the coastal area adds to project costs.
* Transporting materials from the Willamette Valley or elsewhere adds to project costs. * Maintenance of structures on the coast is higher due to weather.
* A significant amount of developable land in Lincoln County is either difficult/costly to serve with streets and utilities, has steep slopes, or has wetland issues.

But wait! There’s more!

* Profit margins for work on the coast generally needs to be higher than similar work in the Willamette Valley.
* The smaller typical scale of projects on the coast is less attractive to Willamette Valley developers.
* The cost of land, construction and debt does not always line up well with the achievable rents available for coastal housing. In other words, it is harder for projects on the coast to “pencil out.”
* Because of these reasons, developers will not be aggressive about outpacing demand on the coast – they will always be trailing the pent-up demand.

Development Process and Fees. Many local developers noted that Systems Development Charges (SDCs) contributed to housing costs for their projects. However, other developers said that the SDCs, and review process in Lincoln County generally, are similar to those of other jurisdictions.

Vacation Rentals We have heard varying perspectives on whether Vacation Rentals are contributing to the lack of inventory, how much, and what possible remedies may be.

Strategies and Recommendations This report contains several strategies and recommendations for addressing housing issues in Lincoln County, listed briefly below and described in greater detail in the remainder of this report:
* Comprehensive Plan Policy Updates
* Development Code amendments
* Home Rehabilitation Loan/Grant Program.
* Construction Excise Tax (CET)
* Transient Lodging Tax (TLT) Reallocation
* SDC Methodology Updates and/or Deferrals
* Tax Abatements or Exemptions
* Regional Buildbable Lands Inventory (BLI)
* Staff Allocation to Regional Housing Lastly, additional information is provided on the following topics:
* Tiny Homes, Recreational Vehicles, and Similar Types of Housing
* Accessory Dwelling Units
* Urban Growth Management Agreements (UGMAs)

There’s a lot more coming to a dinner table near you to further exercise a long list of ways to raise money and to meet Lincoln County’s desperate need for liveable housing.

Here’s the complete report as delivered to the county and all 7 cities in Lincoln County. Click here!

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