Newport City Councilors Monday night started shaking the ground underneath some long running challenges like parks, taxi cabs, styrofoam food containers and discouraging the construction of “dream homes” precariously perched atop unstable shore bluffs.
It was agreed among the councilors that over the past ten years, or so, city’s parks have been less than loved. Some are not being maintained to standards that many people would demand. Lately there have been complaints about city parks and their need for upgrades and better maintenance. Currently the city Public Works Department has control of those sorts of things but they have been so busy with other vital infrastructure that they haven’t had the time to pay enough attention to the parks.
It just so happens that a special forward-looking needs assessment for Newport Parks has been developed and forwarded to the city council. The council agreed that the new Parks Master Plan would probably be better off in the hands of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department – and the council agreed. So it’s anticipated that the new arrangement will be back before the council for proper findings and direction from the city council to inject new vigor and passion into Newport’s parks system.
After some research and trying to find out who’s on first, the city council agreed to keep cab service in Newport status quo – no changes. It means that Yaquina and Pacific cab companies will remain the only two city franchised cab services to help Newport area residents get around the area at a reasonable cost. The two companies said there have been other individual cab start-ups but they tend to disrupt the smooth operations of Yaquina and Pacific because these solo intruders “cherry pick” the lucrative day-parts that Yaquina and Pacific rely on to stay in business. Besides that, some of the “outlier” cab drivers don’t pay the taxes or supplemental insurance normally required of a licensed cab company – a “fair play” aspect that is missing in the equation.
So the council decided to keep things as they are – Yaquina and Pacific Cab companies will stick to serving the Newport area while always keeping at least one cab at the ready in Newport during times when their other cabs are driving customers to points outside the Newport area – like to the Eugene or Portland Airports.
Next, the council’s recent move to ban plastic bags within the Newport city limits has spurred a movement to also go after styrofoam containers – especially the ones that carry food from restaurants, food both whole and left-overs. But that’s a mission that will take some time to come to fruition. But they’re confident it will come. Styrofoam debris is almost as common as rocks on the beach – so the council, like many others, would love to see it all go away – either reprocessed or permanently kept out of the environment. The council raised the option of joining forces with the Oregon Coastal Caucus along with state and local governments to launch a highly coordinated attack on styrofoam.
Next, the city council focused on what appears to be a rising number of newcomers visiting the coast and then wanting to build luxury homes on bluffs overlooking the beaches. But time and again, these new homeowners find out that seaside bluffs can be very unstable and prone to slump out from underneath causing the homes to cascade down onto the beach below. The council was told that part of the problem is that the state doesn’t having strict enough rules and regulations to prevent big homes from getting too close to the edge. It was agreed that some regulatory clean up work is needed on rules aimed at “bluff luxury homes” and whether any such construction is really THAT safe.
And finally, one councilor suggested that the increasing popularity of electric powered cars is creating opportunities to boost tourism on the coast. Councilor Ryan Parker said there is a Western Oregon movement of electric car buffs to have more battery re-charging stations interspersed from the Valley to coastal cities like Lincoln City, Newport, Waldport and Florence. – especially along Highway 20 from Corvallis to Newport. Parker added that with recent great leaps in battery technology, (going father on one charge),the addition of the charging stations could be an irresistible temptation for valley folks to visit the coast far more often.