A year of growth, outreach in community

A an internationally renowned relay race stays in Seaside, and the city heads for the hills. The East Hills that is, as officials seek to expand the city’s urban growth boundary and prepare for future development. City councilors approved the licensing of cannabis dispensaries outside the downtown city core, and continue to wrestle with the growing need for the hungry and the homeless.

These are among the top stories in Seaside in 2015, and will likely be at the forefront of 2016 concerns.

Seaside will expand its urban boundaries, but planning commissioners are still wrestling as to what areas might see growth. They will be undertaking a 14-year land-needs analysis to bring 141 acres into the Urban Growth Boundary expansion. Typically a 20-year forecast, the city is responding to state guidelines which recommended the relatively shorter-term outlook.

Since the commission started considering the expansion, members focused on the Southeast Hills site, to the south and east of Spruce Drive and Wahanna Road. They determined that area alone could provide enough developable land to meet the city’s land supply needs.

The city started looking at a potential Urban Growth Boundary expansion in order to address state guidelines regarding long-term planning for population growth and urbanization. Those guidelines currently ask municipalities to demonstrate a 20-year supply of developable land. The state is revamping and updating those guidelines to suggest a 14-year time frame instead to help streamline the process and make it simpler for smaller municipalities,

Landowners in that area, which currently is part of unincorporated Clatsop County, have questioned the expansion and how it would impact property tax evaluations, traffic patterns, infrastructure and lifestyles.

The city of Seaside and Hood to Coast reached an agreement in October to continue their 25-year relationship. Seaside is the final leg of the 197-mile relay, which originates in Mount Hood and draws up to 20,000 visitors to Seaside each year. The council unanimously voted to grant Hood to Coast permission to be held the weekend before Labor Day for two more years.

The rapprochement occurred only a few weeks after 87 business owners presented a petition seeking a date change for the event. During the first Hood to Coast workshop, audience members complained about rude behavior by runners, “arrogant” organizers and vendors who tapped into private power supplies. With the beach closed off at this year’s race because of high winds and stormy weather, runners filled the streets and blocked store entrances, business owners said.

Only a week later, councilors were unanimous in their support of granting a permit for the race for two more years.

Before adding his affirmative vote, councilors asked for ways to involve more businesses and retailers on the beach, with the addition of local food vendors. “

Helping Hands Reentry Outreach Centers and the city of Seaside will collaborate on a federal grant application to help the nonprofit organization build or purchase a new facility for the homeless in Seaside.

On Oct. 12, Seaside City Council voted unanimously to be the sponsoring agency for Helping Hands on a Community Development Block Grant, a program run by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Community Development Block Grant program provides annual grants on a formula basis to more than 1,000 local government and states. Nonprofit agencies cannot host the grants themselves and must be backed by a government entity, which is why Helping Hands asked for the city’s support, the organization’s executive director Alan Evans said.

Helping Hands is seeking to either purchase or build a new facility to use for housing individuals in the organization’s reentry program.

In the first three quarters of 2015, the organization served more than 400 individual clients in Clatsop, Yamhill and Lincoln counties, with a majority of service taking place in Seaside because of the emergency shelter.

Seaside tables fees to keep panhandlers off the city streets

An amendment to a Seaside city ordinance designed to regulate panhandlers, musicians and itinerant merchants got no further Monday night than it had this summer.

The ordinance, in place since 1984, requires a license to solicit and applies to “a person occupying a temporary fixed location, who promotes, solicits or sells from stock or inventory on hand or displays samples and solicits orders for merchandise in stock.”

The amendment seeks to expand the definition to include any person who provides a service “or solicits for any form of compensation or remuneration.”

License fees would start at $50 per day, with a maximum of $1,000 in a calendar year. Fines would also be increased, from $500 to $700.

Mayor Don Larson said that panhandlers with signs in dusk can provide a traffic hazard for drivers.

Members of the audience vigorously opposed the ordinance and the proposed amendment, citing First Amendment rights and its impact on those in need.

The Seaside City Council decided they can’t fight the state when it comes to recreational marijuana.

In late September, Planning Director Kevin Cupples approved the sale of recreational cannabis from licensed medical dispensaries, including Highway 420 and Cannabis Nation.

In granting the licenses, Cupples asked for “any direction from the council” in the city’s regulatory policy.

Councilors, several of whom had recently returned from the League of Oregon Cities in Bend, showed little appetite for revisiting the issue.

Currently, Seaside prohibits the sale of medical marijuana in the city’s downtown core. Cannabis dispensaries are subject to state rules.

City Councilor Dana Phillips, who also attended the League of Cities event, said she was concerned that the city needed to take action to prohibit dispensary zoning restrictions.

While councilors acknowledged they “didn’t like the process,” they agreed that the law had passed overwhelmingly at the city and state level.

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