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Oregon: A special place for yet another major reason…

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Two major Portland area medical research centers, known for providing cost effective medical care that produces good medical outcomes, have been hired by the federal government to help health care providers cut through the maze of medical industry confusion on how to provide affordable health care to Americans.

The story is in the Oregonian. Click here.

Fighting high home prices – even during the recession – Lincoln County Land Trust

Lincoln County Land Trust Builds Momentum with Two More Homes
Four years and three homes; Lincoln Community Land Trust is creating affordable homes for Lincoln County working families at a growing rate and trying to catch up with growing need. The organization, founded in 2008, and it’s all volunteer board are spending their time getting two more homes ready and available for sale to Lincoln County’s working families.

On November 1st at 5:30 PM, the public is invited to attend the open house and ribbon cutting of the land trust’s second home coming for sale in November. The event will held at 4690 John’s Avenue in Neotsu. LCLT invites everyone to attend and show their support for homes that Lincoln County’s workforce can afford.

The Land Trust renovated and sold its first home in 2011. One year later, the home on scenic Johns Avenue is the second LCLT home. The cozy, cottage style home has an upstairs with two bedrooms, one bath and an basement with additional multipurpose rooms. The home has been fully renovated and includes a view of Devils Lake. A third home, a new construction, is already in the works. The home will be located next door to the first LCLT home sold in fall of 2011. The new 1,200 square foot, will have three bedrooms – two baths and a single car garage. It will be Energy Star certified giving the homeowner savings on their utilities due to an energy-efficient design. Central Coast Construction Inc. of Lincoln City was selected for the job after a competitive bid process through a two county area.

The trust serves those families working in Lincoln County with incomes between 60-120% of Lincoln County Median Family Income, ($21,000-47,000 for single heads of household or $31,000-67,000 for a family of four). The trust supports interested homeowners with pre- purchase homebuyer education, and orientations to homeownership and finding ways to hang on to hard earned dollars for their future.

The LCLT considers household expenses over 30% of gross income each month to be unaffordable. “It’s hard to make ends meet, let alone invest in your future when all your income is going to the roof over your head,” says Benjamin Baggett, Director. “Since housing and housing related expenses make up the greatest percentage of a household’s expenses, bringing down that cost alone can generate big savings for families.” “Affordable homeownership is a large contributor to a healthy and vibrant Lincoln County economy.”

Several factors drive high home prices on the coast. Land is in limited supply and existing homes are quickly sold to those looking to move to the coast; some year round, many during the sunny summer months. This creates a high priced housing market with little to choose from for those who work here. “The lack of affordable homes for hardworking families has severe impacts on the economic health and diversity of our communites,” said Bill Hall, county commissioner and LCLT board chair. “The average nurse, teacher or construction worker can’t afford a median priced home in the county right now.”

The trust intervenes in these high market prices by acquiring the land and instead of selling it, asks the homeowner to enter a 99-year inheritable lease for $50/month to enjoy uninterrupted rights to the land. That drastically reduces the cost of the home where the land is normally the greatest expense to the homebuyer. And it doesn’t’ stop there. These homes are intended to be affordable for generations to come. In exchange for this opportunity to buy a home at such a low home price, the homeowner agrees that if they ever decide to sell the home they will help the next buyer with a low price by keeping it not more than 2% appreciation per year. It may not be so noticeable now, but when the market comes back these homes will remain affordable compared to the one next door that skyrockets.

There are pros and cons the land trust model, and it is a very good option for many; especially those looking to own rather than rent or those who look to ease into homeownership create savings, build credit and one day move into a market home. It is another affordable housing option that the Lincoln Community Land Trust provides that could make the difference in someone’s ability to live affordably in their own hometown or the town they wish to call home.

DUI Crash in Waldport

On Tuesday, October 16, a Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Deputy responded to a traffic crash on U.S. Hwy 34 near the intersection of Verbena St. in Waldport.

Upon arrival, the deputy discovered a motor vehicle and an electric motorized scooter had been involved in a crash in a marked crosswalk. The male subject operating the electric motorized scooter, James R. Green, 56, from Waldport, displayed signs of impairment while at the scene. Mr. Green was transported by ambulance to Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital in Newport, Oregon, for minor injuries received in the crash. The deputy conducted a DUII Investigation at the hospital and subsequently arrested Green for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants. Green was issued a criminal citation for DUII and released at the hospital.

Local commercial and recreational fishermen are concerned about amount of sea bed that wave energy developers want set aside for their exclusive use

Oregon Shoreline, Cannon Beach to Curry County
Purple areas likely off-limits to fishing
Yellow line is three mile limit
Does not show additional “marine reserves” or “protected” areas scheduled for withdrawal from fishing
Click photos to enlarge

A compilation of information in the ‘under-construction’ Oregon Territorial Sea Plan (TSP) shows what some are calling a disturbing trend that could lead to major damage to Oregon’s commercial and recreation fishing industry.

A preliminary mark-up of areas the wave energy industry wants transformed from fishing areas to wave energy “parks,” has caught the eye of Lincoln County’s “Fishermen Involved in Natural Energy,” (FINE). FINE is a group of commercial and charter fishing operations that fish not just off Newport but the entire Oregon Coast. In a meeting this week at the Lincoln County Courthouse, fishermen said from the looks of a proposed Territorial Sea Plan wave energy map, huge swaths of prime fishing areas, especially for Dungeness Crab, could be withdrawn from commercial and recreational fishing. It could also withdraw areas off Waldport traditionally used by Native Americans for cultural and spiritual activities. Clarification: Native American use rather than Native American fishery.

FINE said a designated commercial wave energy site off Yaquina Head (Newport) should not be approved, but rather reserved strictly as a wave energy device “testing only” site.

FINE said that Lincoln County’s shoreline, over the past several years, has already lost a significant percentage of its near-shore fishing grounds to “marine reserves” and other “protected” areas. FINE said those advocating more withdrawals must take into account the potential loss of all those fish producing areas. They claim that continued sustainable food production, in the long run, could produce far more public benefit than electricity generation, not only in the seafood produced but in jobs created, especially family wage jobs.

FINE also asked that state planners honor Goal 19 in Oregon’s Land Conservation and Development statutes which state in part:

We should protect important marine habitat, including estuarine habitat, which are areas and associated biologic communities that are:

a) important to the biological viability of commercially or recreationally caught species or that support important food or prey species for commercially or recreationally caught species;

4. areas important to fisheries, which are:
a) areas of high catch (e.g., high total pounds landed and high value of landed catch); or
b) areas where highly valued fish are caught even if in low abundance or by few fishers; or
c) areas that are important on a seasonal basis; or
d) areas important to commercial or recreational fishing activities, including those of individual ports or particular fleets; or
e) habitat areas that support food or prey species important to commercially and recreationally caught fish and shellfish species.

FINE said any effort to seek any energy-related exemptions from Goal 19 should be denied.

In addition to their concerns about near-shore wave energy set-asides, FINE members said it is time for Oregon state officials to work more closely with their federal counterparts as they develop federal plans to explore offshore energy generating devices (windmills) which could have similar detrimental effects on the fishing and recreation industries, in addition to visual blight. FINE strongly urges that state officials implore their federal counter-parts who are planning out to the U.S. 200 mile limit, that they promote strong public outreach in mapping what might be expected to be wind energy industry uses of those waters.

FINE members also contend that the decision making process appears to be in a “hurry up” mode that outstrips the publics’ ability to understand the details of what’s going on with Oregon’s Territorial Sea areas, what’s at stake, and how things might turn out. County Commissioner Terry Thompson said although all this is preliminary, he has grave concerns of what it might mean for Oregon’s coastal economy if commercial and recreational fishing is crowded out of prime fishing areas. Thompson says adopting these maps, to include a Territorial Sea Plan Amendment Timeline, appears set for late January, a far too ambitious timeline.

Here is a brief synopsis from the Oregon Employment Department on Oregon Coast fisheries’ contribution to the Oregon coast economy:

“In 2011, Oregon’s commercial fishing industry hauled in the most revenue since 1988. Total landed value boomed to about $148 million, up from a very good $108 million the year before. The value of the salmon and sardine harvests did drop, but this was more than offset by increases in revenue from Dungeness crab, tuna, groundfish and, especially, pink shrimp and whiting – whiting is used to make artificial crab meat.

Crab harvests in 2011 were over 17 million pounds and prices remained around the $2.50 per pound mark, allowing the fleet to land nearly $45 million worth of crab – a better-than-average harvest. The crab harvest was worth about $33 million in 2010. Dungeness crab remains Oregon’s most valuable fishery.”

FINE members contend these figures more than prove that fishing’s contribution to the Oregon Coast economy is quite substantial and should not be harmed by a rush to what many fear could be a transfer of offshore resources from fishing to energy development, a move that could seriously harm the coast’s economy. They say there should be no intended, or even unintended “industry substitution” off the Oregon Coast, especially, they say, when wave energy device testing has not yet begun to certify that such devices are even economically viable. FINE says that providing wave and wind energy may be so costly that a continuous flow of federal and state subsidies may be required to ensure enough profit to attract private investors.

FINE urges the public study-up on the issue and then to contact their state lawmakers (and candidates) to express their interest in learning more about offshore wave and wind energy. They should also express any concerns they have that the process be made fully open and on a timeline that ensures broad public education and involvement. FINE says final action scheduled for this January is simply deciding too much too fast.

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