Oregon Coast Alliance Newsletter
Tillamook County RVs and Seaside Urban Renewal
Should RV's Be Permanent Dwellings? - Tillamook Co. Hearing August 10th
Currently Unoccupied RV on Rural Land in Tillamook County, July 2017 
Tillamook County has been approving recreational vehicles (RVs)  as permanent dwellings  in some rural  zones, such as the Small Farm Woodlot zone, for decades. Nobody apparently noticed or complained, nor remarked on the fact that County ordinances don't explicitly allow RV's as permanent dwellings -- only temporary ones, such as during construction activities.

But this problem has come to a head at last. There is a hearing before the Tillamook County planning commission that will for the first time grapple with this problem. The hearing will be:

Tillamook County Planning Commission
Thursday, August 10th
7:00 PM
Tillamook County Courthouse
201 Laurel Avenue
Board of Commissioners Meeting Rooms A and B
Send written testimony to Hilary Foote

This hearing arises out of an ugly situation that shows how ill-considered the County's practice is.  In September 2015 Tillamook County allowed a couple, the Orlandos, to use an RV as a permanent dwelling on property they purchased next to Bummer Creek, after the Orlandos had already been living there for some weeks . The Orlandos put up a cargo container for additional space, and a second RV in which a friend was apparently  living.  They took water from Bummer Creek via an illegal hose, refused to build a septic system or clean up the trash that accumulated around the site. Neighbors began to complain. By mid 2016 the situation was becoming acute. Tillamook County issued a Notice of Violation in October  for failure to obtain building permits and for solid waste violations,  and the Water Resources Department  in November  notified the Orlandos the use of hoses in Bummer Creek was illegal. 

The Orlandos responded by leaving the Bummer Creek lot and  moving to a  more inaccessible wooded site up a steep hill off Beaver Creek Road, in about December 2016. There they lived in their RV without any permits at all, septic or otherwise, for more than six months. Tillamook County did nothing about this situation, except to quietly issue a septic site approval in March 2017, even though the Orlandos were living there illegally and had been for four months at the time. Finally, after neighbors complained again, the County required the Orlandos to apply for a permit to use their RV as a permanent dwelling. It was approved in June 2017 -- neighbors appealed it, and on the same day, the County issued the Orlandos a septic permit!

The larger question is whether the County can site RVs as permanent dwellings. The County ordinances do not seem to grant this authority, thought the County has been doing it for decades. It is often said that allowing RVs as dwellings helps solve the affordable housing crisis, which afflicts rural  as well as  urban regions of Oregon. But it is only a red herring. Obviously RVs are vehicles, not permanent dwellings.  On  top of that, Tillamook County has no code enforcement and cannot possibly check whether  people living in RVs  are complying with septic requirements, or -- like the Orlandos -- getting water illegally from a creek and presumably having the RV septic tank pumped occasionally. Or perhaps flushing the waste away down the river or creek. The affordable housing crisis needs to be dealt with in a thoughtful, well-planned manner, location by location. It will not be solved by creating a serious public health problem countywide as people live in RVs and take the cheapest alternatives for water needs and waste disposal.

This hearing will focus on the specifics of the Orlando case, but also open a discussion about  whether County  ordinances allow siting of RVs as permanent dwellings. ORCA encourages  p eople who have experience of this problem in Tillamook County  to attend the hearing and provide testimony. We also note that most cities do not allow RVs as permanent dwellings, recognizing the many problems with septic, water and availability of services. The County is, or should be, no less vigilant of the public health and welfare. For further information, please contact ORCA Director  Cameron La Follette

Seaside Urban Renewal Plan: Is This a Good Idea? Hearing August 14th   
Proposed SE Seaside Urban Renewal Area Map
Seaside is embarking on a big urban renewal project for the southeast side of town. The Plan covers  about 559 acres in southeast Seaside, and aims for 25 years of tax increment collections to pay  for the projects.  Tax increment revenues are the amount of property taxes generated by the increase in assessed value in the urban renewal area from the time it is first established. The monies are then used to repay borrowed funds. An urban renewal plan includes projects such as construction or improvement of streets, utilities or other public facilities, assistance for redevelopment of property, and acquisition and re-sale of property from willing sellers. There are many troubling aspects of this proposal, however.

More information, and copies of the Plan and accompanying report, are here

City Council is holding a hearing on the proposed Plan on August 14th. Please attend the hearing if you live in the area, or submit written testimony. The future livability of Southeast Seaside depends on it.

Seaside City Council
Monday, August 14, 2017
7:00 PM
Council Chambers
989 Broadway
Send written testimony  to Kim Jordan

So what's wrong with Seaside's plan?  Assertions to the contrary, this Urban Renewal Plan does not conform to the city's Comprehensive Plan.   Its  goals are very vague, many of them highly questionable, such as: "Provide appropriate infrastructure to the unincorporated properties in the Area." The Plan then notes that there is a lack of sanitary sewer, storm drainage and street lighting in areas outside the UGB.That is certainly true, and is exactly as the Oregon planning system works. Areas outside the UGB do not have urban services.  Much of the land to be included is inside city limits, and some is inside the UGB -- but one parcel is outside the urban growth boundary. Mysteriously, the plan includes a 32-acre parcel owned by Weyerhaeuser, which is completely outside the urban growth boundary. Its purpose is not explained in the plan. Why is  it  included?

Ominously, the Plan mentions purchasing properties outside the UGB to allow for infrastructure construction. The Plan also states in several places that eminent domain will be used, such as: "The Seaside Improvement Commission may acquire any property within the Area for the public improvement projects...by all legal means, including use of eminent domain." (p. 13). The Plan cloaks many of its proposals as being in aid of the new school, but the projects are vaguely defined and extend far beyond school needs; the Plan uses the  school's upcoming  move as an excuse for including other highly questionable and even downright impermissible projects, such as bringing a 32-acre Weyerhaeuser parcel into the UGB. This Plan needs to be thoroughly discussed in public hearings, to decide if it is necessary at all. If so, its goals and objectives need to be carefully defined  and brought into conformance with the Comprehensive Plan's requirements,  and the powers of acquisition and redevelopment sharply limited.

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Contact Information
Contact Executive Director Cameron La Follette by  email
or phone: 503-391-0210
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