LINCOLN CITY — Expectations run high that during its Monday, Aug. 10, virtual city council meeting, Lincoln City adopts the Roads End/Villages at Cascade Head Urban Renewal Plan.
In the works for three years, the 27-year plan aims to gradually improve an area established within Lincoln City’s 500-acre Tax Increment Finance region deemed poorly developed or underdeveloped.
This week, Alison Robertson, Lincoln City urban renewal and economic development director, told the News-Times she fully expects the Lincoln City Council to adopt the plan, though she won’t celebrate before the plan officially passes through the council.
“I don’t count my eggs before they hatch,” Robertson said Wednesday. “But the reality is that in the past three years the council debated whether or not to do feasibility studies, then they moved forward with the creation of a plan we’ve been working on for the last 10 months. It seems apparent the council wants to use it because they found it a useful tool in the past.”
The plan includes future commitments to boosting the urban renewal area’s transportation, economic development, parks, trails and open space, public works/utilities, community connections/appearance and emergency preparedness. What the $87 million plan won’t do is raise taxes for Lincoln City property owners, a common misconception among residents.
“It’s not a tax increase,” Lincoln City Mayor Dick Anderson said during the July 27 city council meeting. “These are the same taxes you’re getting (paying) anyway, it’s just being spread differently.”
Robertson echoed Anderson’s sentiment and added to it this week.
“The presence of an urban renewal area does not raise taxes,” she said. “What it does is reallocates existing tax money by sharing it with the other overlapping tax districts within the area. In fact, when the area goes to sunset, or in other words goes away, or reaches maximum indebtedness, taxes do not decrease. So taxes do not go up or down with the existence of an urban renewal area.
During the July 27 meeting held via Zoom, the seven-member city council stopped short of approving the plan following an initial reading. After the Fair Housing Council of Oregon and Housing Land Advocates sent criticism in a joint letter submitted for public comment, read aloud during the July 27 meeting by City Manager Ron Chandler, council members voted to table the plan’s second reading and final approval.
They did so after the housing advocacy nonprofits noted their shared opinion that the urban renewal plan fails to prioritize affordable housing.
“How would raising property values align with any of the city’s affordable housing goals?” the letter, signed by Louise Dix, Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing specialist at the Fair Housing Council of Oregon and Jennifer Bragar, President of Housing Land Advocates, asked. “The plan further states that it has the goal of helping the city accomplish its housing goals, yet makes no reference to what those goals are or how it proposes to do this.”
After council members deliberated July 27 on issues raised in the letter submitted for public comment the day of the meeting, councilors chose to err on the side of caution and table the plan’s passage in order to better address those concerns.
However, Robertson said she thought the Fair Housing Council of Oregon and Housing Land Advocates were misinformed regarding the plan’s legal obligations toward affordable housing.
“I do think that they are not fully understanding the urban renewal plan’s requirements,” she said before referencing Oregon Revised Statutes chapter 457 as the urban renewal plan’s baseline for guidelines.
Since its first reading late last month, Chandler added specific language to the plan’s most recent draft to address concerns of the housing nonprofits, though the draft was unavailable prior to the News-Times’ deadline.
“This plan represents a lot of work by a lot of people the past several years,” Robertson said. “A lot of hard work and a lot of teamwork went into making this plan the best it could be.”
View Monday’s scheduled 7 p.m. meeting by visiting lincolncityor.iqm2.com/Citizens/Default.aspx. The urban renewal project draft set for approval Monday is available to view at www.lincolncity.org/urbanrenewal.