Lincoln City Police Chief Steven Bechard wants to clean up the town but needs city council’s help to do it, how close is too close, and “Something there is that doesn’t love a bottleneck.”
Lincoln City Police Chief Steven Bechard has, for years, been watching city enforcement against illegal advertising signs, messy yards, tarps on roofs, trash strewn alleys, junk scattered about on open property and all the rest, and is now saying that the system should change. Chief Bechard says the traditional “complaint-driven” system has become just too inefficient and difficult, and that a more effective approach must be found. Chief Bechard told City Manager David Hawker that he wants to switch from “complaint driven” code enforcement to strict code enforcement. Chief Bechard says if a city code enforcement employee sees a violation, he or she shouldn’t have to wait for a citizen to complain. The officer should be able to simply knock on the door and tell the property owner to fix the problem.
Chief Bechard says under the current policies, fixing problems can take up to a year. What’s worse, a complaint-driven system means that the code enforcement officer winds up conducting detailed digging to identify who owns the property in order to issue an abatement order. He says “this has become very cumbersome recently with the number of properties in foreclosure or under disputed ownership. When you add in the formalities of registered mail, or unopened mail, code enforcement gets even more difficult.”
Chief Bechard also singles out the town’s municipal judge for, in effect, being extremely lenient with code violators, even after many missed opportunities to comply with city codes.
Chief Bechard is asking City Manager Hawker to work out a new code enforcement protocol with the city council which would see Lincoln City being divided up into manageable sections. That way, he says, officers can target visible code violations, take the initiative and thereby improve overall code enforcement. Chief Bechard said the city code enforcement ordinances must be rewritten to clarify and strenghten the legal process and that city departments must be trained to work together to provide supporting evidence for enforcement, and that the court should move more efficiently on cases brought before it.
The city council will also be considering some city ordinance changes that ensure that ocean bluff top construction within Lincoln City doesn’t occur too close to the edge of the bluffs. City Senior Planner Debra Martzahn is forwarding a city planning commission list of recommendations that detailed geological analysis accompany such construction, whether new construction, an addition or substantial reconstruction, that the bluff setback shall be 60 times the annual bluff erosion rate plus five feet, and that no construction activity be allowed within 20 feet of the bluff edge, no matter what. Communities up and down the Oregon Coast are grappling with new geologic data provided by the Oregon Department of Geology and Minerals Industries that seeks to make living “right on the ocean” more sensible and respectful of natural coastline erosion patterns and trends.
And the council will be asked to sign an agreement with ODOT that seeks to widen Highway 101 from 23rd down to 32nd, with a center turn lane in the middle, along with bike lanes and sidewalks. The agreement will cap a long dispute over whether the removal of the “Nelscott Bottleneck” should be a two lane or a four lane project. Although ODOT had been insisting on a more elaborate four lane project, the city has convinced them that based on funding problems and that the city doesn’t want to lose any businesses that might be eliminated in more right-of-way requirements with ODOT’s plan, it’s best to settle for a more modest approach. Once the agreement is inked, public hearings can proceed and a design for the project can proceed, with construction beginning within two to three years.