NEWPORT — The Newport City Council and Lincoln County Board of Commissioners met in their annual joint meeting Wednesday to discuss several important issues that are top priorities for both the city and the county, including housing, homelessness, biosolids and the Port of Newport, among other things.
A regional housing initiative spearheaded by the county could secure Department of Land Conservation and Development dollars that would be used to develop housing inside urban growth boundary lines. The urban growth boundaries for each of the cities in Lincoln County include land that will eventually be annexed by each of those cities.
“These are monies that were earmarked by the legislature,” said Wayne Belmont, Lincoln County counsel. “They’re sort of siloed for a specific project dealing with regional housing issues within urban growth boundaries.”
Several of the cities in Lincoln County also applied for the same grant separately, but it was the county that received the grant. The money will pay for consultants that will help the cities and the county develop a regional housing plan to further address the community’s housing needs.
“We’re looking forward, now we have a consultant online, to really share what the possibilities are for a more regional approach to housing with the other elected officials,” said Newport City Manager Spencer Nebel.
Among some of the ideas discussed during the meeting, city officials looking for shovel-ready lots that could be turned into multi-family housing was one option that at least one local official deemed appealing.
“That’s probably a little beyond the scope of what this particular project can cover,” said Newport Community Development Director Derrick Tokos. “We’re going, cherry-picking properties out of the different inventories, to kind of do a county-wide shortlist if you want to think of it that way.”
An analysis across the different housing policies adopted by the jurisdictions in this county to determine strengths and weaknesses, local officials said, would help in determining a direction for the county.
“This is so that different jurisdictions can say maybe Lincoln City is doing something we’re not or vice-versa,” said Tokos. “Maybe there’s something we haven’t thought about at this point in time.”