Seaside signal. (Seaside, Or.) 1905-current, March 06, 2015, Image 8

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    8A • March 6, 2015 • Seaside Signal •
Sales tax overwhelmingly
turned down in survey
Poll asks businesses if
center should expand
By Katherine Lacaze
Seaside Signal
A majority of Seaside
Chamber of Commerce and
Seaside Downtown Devel-
opment Association mem-
bers do not support a local
tax on food and retail sales
to fund a Seaside Civic and
Convention Center expan-
sion, and some don’t support
the $25 million expansion at
all, according to a survey.
The Seaside Civic and
Convention Center staff re-
cently conducted a survey
among 60 association mem-
bers and 101 chamber mem-
bers. Of the 161 respondents
from both organizations, 85
percent said they do not sup-
port the creation of a busi-
ness improvement district, or
sales tax, on food and retail
sales, one of three funding
sources suggested in a study
by C.H. Johnson Consulting
completed last year. Seven
percent said they would sup-
port a sales tax and 8 percent
said they might support it.
The second question on
the survey asked if respon-
dents support increasing the
transient room tax, or lodg-
ing/bed tax, as a funding
source. Of the 161 respon-
dents, 57 percent said no, 28
percent said yes and 15 per-
cent said maybe.
When it came to the third
funding option, the devel-
opment of a countywide
alliance with Astoria, Can-
non Beach and Seaside, 50
percent said no, 33 percent
said yes and 17 percent said
Finally, respondents were
asked, all funding sourc-
es and costs aside, if they
still supported the idea of
expanding the convention
center. Forty-four percent
of respondents said no, 26
percents said yes, 6 percent
said they were not sure and
24 percent said maybe.
“I was surprised,” said
Russ Vandenberg, general
manager of the convention
center. “I had not anticipat-
ed that 44 percent would not
support an expansion at all.”
The survey was conduct-
ed following two presen-
tations Vandenberg made
to the Seaside Chamber of
Commerce and the Seaside
Downtown Development
Association. In those pre-
sentations, he outlined the
ing the convention center
expansion as well as a $6
million, multi-level park-
ing structure. The monthly
payment required to retire
the $31 million debt would
be $220,000 a month for 30
The survey also included
a comment section, and Van-
denberg said they received
numerous comments. The
biggest takeaway from the
comments, which were not
available yet, Vandenberg
said, was that “this town
doesn’t want any sales tax.”
“They thought it would
harm their business, or peo-
ple would travel outside (the
city) to shop,” he said.
Other comments sug-
gested the town does not
have the infrastructure,
such as parking and roads,
crease in visitors in the
downtown area. According
to the survey, the expansion
would allow the convention
center to bring groups of
500 to 600 to town.
Some people indicated
they simply like Seaside’s
small-town feel and believe
the expansion might harm
that, Vandenberg said.
The construction alone
would take about a year,
and some of the chamber
and association members
expressed fear about how
that might negatively impact
their businesses.
“They like things the way
they are,” Vandenberg said.
The Seaside Downtown
Development Association
Board has already voted to
oppose a sales tax, accord-
ing to Tita Montero, SDDA
executive director.
A link to the survey re-
sults was sent to both the
chamber and association.
The expansion committee
will discuss the results be-
fore bringing recommen-
dations to the Seaside Civ-
ic and Convention Center
Commission. Sometime in
the next few months, the
nal recommendation before
Seaside City Council to
Steer a
straight course
Frank Rendon, owner of Legendary Longhorns out of
Sweet Home, sits atop his celebrity steer, Showgun,
outside of the Seaside Civic and Convention Center.
Rendon and his right-hand man Justin Wambach (not
pictured) were in town with their steers, to promote
Legendary Longhorns at the Oregon Festival & Events
Conference hosted at the convention center last week-
end. Rendon and Wambach take the steers to rodeos,
fairs and other events across Oregon and Washington.
Timber project raises concerns about public process
Local agencies offer
help to develop a
management plan for
the city’s watershed
By Katherine Lacaze
Seaside Signal
The city is moving ahead
with a timber harvesting
project on its property in the
Necanicum Watershed with
little input from the Neca-
nicum Watershed Council,
North Coast Land Conser-
vancy and the public.
Despite a request by the
land conservancy that the
city temporarily halt its
harvest to discuss harvest-
ing alternatives, the Seaside
City Council decided at its
Feb. 23 meeting to honor
its contract and continue
the harvest.
“We’re already in mid-
stream,” said Councilor
Dana Phillips.
The city is clear-cutting
about 60 acres of timber
from its South Fork Neca-
nicum Watershed property.
The timber sale proceeds
will be used to acquire
more watershed property,
according to city staff.
ished about 24 acres, and
Public Works Director Neal
Wallace told the council
there would be costs as-
sociated with not moving
forward. The city invested
about $12,000 in seedlings
to replant in the clear-cut
areas, and the logging crew
also expects a certain vol-
ume of trees as part of its
“If we put this on hold
for right now, this job is
pretty much done,” Wallace
said. The logging company,
Berlog, of Clatskanie, and
forester Mark Dreyer, own-
er of Lone Cedar Consult-
ing and the city’s consulting
forester since 2006, would
not wait a month while a
discussion occurred, Wal-
lace said.
Project concerns
At the council’s meeting
Feb. 9, the Necanicum Wa-
tershed Council also asked
the City Council to recon-
sider approving the project.
Melyssa Graeper, coordina-
tor for the council, read a
letter from the organization.
Noting that the water-
shed council has contrib-
uted over $2 million in
conservation funds to the
community to address envi-
ronmental and other issues,
the letter expressed concern
that the city, “a designated
‘Tree City, USA,’ is quick-
ly moving ahead on a tim-
ber harvest in the watershed
with little public process,
including allowing the wa-
tershed council to provide
the input it was asked for.”
The project was listed on
the agenda for the Dec. 8
City Council meeting under
new business and solely as
a presentation by Wallace.
After a roughly 10-minute
presentation, which includ-
ed comments from Dreyer,
the board voted unanimous-
ly to approve taking the
project to bid. The project
was not taken to bid, how-
ever. Administrative Assis-
tant Kim Jordan said the
motion was misstated, and
the City Council “knew at
that meeting there was not
going to be a bid.”
Rather, Jordan said, the
council meant to only ap-
prove the project. Council-
or Don Johnson, who made
the motion, agreed that the
council “intended” to au-
thorize city staff to proceed
with the project.
‘If we put this on hold
for right now, this job is
pretty much done’
Public Works Director
Neal Wallace
If the project had gone to
bid, it would have been pro-
posed by resolution, which
would have required a pub-
lic comment period.
When asked why the
project did not have to go
to bid, Wallace responded,
“When we hired the forest
manager we turned over the
operation to him.
“He reviews the logger’s
information and makes
the decision/recommenda-
tion on behalf of the city,”
Wallace said. “The council
approved the forester’s rec-
There is no record of the
council approving the rec-
ommendation to hire Ber-
log; only Dreyer’s initial
description of the project is
on the record.
In addition, the public
was not given an opportuni-
ty at the December meeting
to comment on the project
before the motion was ap-
Graeper said. “It feels like
they’re not being transpar-
ent when they should be or
could be.”
Wallace planned to meet
with the Necanicum Wa-
tershed Council in January
to discuss the project but
did not because a personal
matter prevented him from
doing so. The watershed
council discussed the proj-
ect on its own. Regardless,
Graeper said, it would have
been too late to offer input
because the city already
had approved the project
and signed a contract.
“We weren’t offered the
opportunity to respond be-
fore decisions were made,”
she said.
The North Coast Land
Conservancy was not of-
fered the opportunity either,
Executive Director Katie
Voelke said.
“When we heard of the
plan, we approached the
city to offer our services,”
she said, adding that she
learned of the project from
a January newspaper article.
“Watershed-based land
acquisition is the charitable
service that we provide as a
land trust,” Voelke said. If
the city creates a steward-
ship plan, it’s possible to
receive grants to purchase
more land, she added.
Graeper said the situa-
tion has raised some ques-
tions about the public pro-
cess regarding city projects
and where there is room in
the system for feedback.
“Moving forward I want
to understand the city’s pro-
cess and be a part of it,” she
The watershed council
members decided unan-
imously at their January
meeting that they “opposed
the city’s intent to harvest its
watershed,” Graeper said.
According to the water-
shed council, the harvest
was not the city’s only op-
tion to bring in revenue to
purchase land; the council
suggested other options
such as grants, carbon cred-
its, increasing the transient
lodging tax, increasing wa-
ter rates or a bond measure.
The watershed council
asked why the city should
own more land if it isn’t
going to manage its munic-
ipal water supply watershed
any differently than what’s
minimally required by law
under the Forest Practices
“The city has something
special in their ownership
of the South Fork Necani-
cum watershed,” the letter
are so minimal, and risk so
great, it makes good sense
to slow down and carefully
plan out your management
Protecting the
The watershed council
also asked the City Council
to revisit its forest manage-
ment plan. At the Decem-
ber City Council meeting,
when Councilor Don John-
son asked if the timber har-
management plan, Wallace
said the plan was “very
loosely put together” and
only existed to manage the
watershed and water quali-
ty and production.
Wallace said later he was
referring to the water con-
servation and management
plan because he and sever-
al other city staff members
were not aware a forest, or
rather timber, management
plan existed until Wallace
searched the archives re-
cently. The city’s timber
management plan has not
been updated since 1983.
The watershed council’s
letter admonished the city
for its lack of attention to
the management plan. It
should not be a “one-time
thought,” but a living plan
activities leading to well
thought out, long-term
goals, the letter said.
“To know that decisions
are being made based on an
old and loosely put together
plan is disheartening to say
the least,” the letter added.
Because the timber har-
vesting project is underway,
Graeper and Voelke said
their organizations want
to help the city develop a
comprehensive watershed
protection plan to guide fu-
ture decisions.
The watershed council,
Graeper said, could offer
the city technical assistance
and possibly funds to cre-
ate a comprehensive wa-
tershed protection plan. At
the March 9 City Council
meeting, both organizations
will propose how, through
partnerships, the city and
various stakeholders might
go through a watershed pro-
tection planning process.
“Regardless of what is
happening now, that’s still
a really good idea,” Voel-
ke said. “We just want to
support the city’s ability to
make decisions about the
watershed in the context of
the big picture.”
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