The City of Lincoln City is inching closer to adopting the proposed Roads End/Villages at Cascade Head (Sitka Woods) Urban Renewal plan.
On July 27, the City Council held a hearing for the proposed ordinance at their regularly scheduled meeting.
The Roads End/Villages at Cascade Head (Sitka Woods) Urban Renewal Area, consists of approximately 500 acres of land including rights of way. According to the City, the purpose of urban renewal is to improve specific areas of a city that are poorly developed or underdeveloped. These areas can have old deteriorated buildings, public spaces which need improvements, a lack of investment, streets and utilities in poor condition or they can lack streets and utilities altogether.
City staff said the proposed area has many properties that are undeveloped or under-developed and lacks sufficient infrastructure within the area. The plan contains goals, objectives and projects for the development of the area. Plans for the properties include transportation, economic development, parks, trails and open space, public works/utilities, community connections/appearance, emergency preparedness, resiliency and mitigation, as well as plan administration.
The overall purpose of the plan is to use tax increment financing to overcome obstacles to the proper development of the area, City staff says.
Urban renewal serves as its own financing source, called tax increment financing. Tax increment revenues, the amount of property taxes generated by the increase in total assessed values in the urban renewal area from the time the urban renewal area is first established, are used to repay borrowed funds. The funds borrowed are used to pay for urban renewal projects.
The proposed plan is projected to take a total of 27 years of tax increment revenue collection and includes a voluntary 15 percent annual revenue sharing.
On July 7, the Lincoln City Planning Commission reviewed the draft plan and report for compliance and recommended adoption of the plan. The City Council heard public comments from several citizens both in favor of the proposed plan and some opposed.
City Councilor Rick Mark shared his appreciation for the letters, especially from citizens involved in Urban Renewal in Lincoln City and directly involved with the proposed plan.
“This really does work, and the City has benefited from this greatly,” Mark said of Urban Renewal in Lincoln City.
Mark briefly touched on a few of the concerns raised by citizens such as using Urban Renewal tax funds during a time of crisis. Although the concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic are valid, Mark felt it was not directly related to this plan.
“The revenue that is brought in as we do this… is not a whole lot of money to begin with,” Mark noted. “The first few years the fund has to grow and that money will not have a significant impact in addressing concerns raised by the virus crisis.”
Other concerns included increased traffic, lack of side walks, street lighting and more in the Roads End area, to which Mark stated that this plan would be directly addressing those exact concerns.
Councilor Diana Hinton said she had been seeing many misconceptions floating around social media regarding the proposal. Claims included creating new taxes for the 27 year, $86 million project. However, as Mayor Dick Anderson later stated, these claims are simply not true.
“I hope the public will reach out to us individually, so we can explain in more detail, if they are still thinking this is wrong,” Anderson said. “It’s not a tax increase, these are the same taxes you are getting anyways, it’s just being spread differently.”
The City Council voted unanimously to approved first reading of the ordinance and moved second reading to Aug. 10. Late in the meeting, the City Council also voted to change the name The Villages at Cascade Head to The Villages at Sitka Woods.