The Gold Beach City Council passed a resolution to put a fuel tax on the ballot at a well-attended meeting on Feb. 3. The council also discussed the road diet reconfiguration of U.S. Highway 101 through town and pondered code amendments restricting short-term rentals in residential zones.
The fuel tax would fund necessary repairs of city-owned streets. To get the measure on the upcoming May primary election ballot, the council needed to approve the resolution at the Feb. 3 meeting.
The fuel tax failed in a previous election held in Nov. 2018, despite the council having received overwhelming citizen input about preferring a fuel tax over an additional monthly fee added to water and sewer bills. Comments on the survey indicated citizens preferred tourists share some of the road repair burdens.
The fuel tax would be collected by motor vehicle fuel dealers from customers and would add approximately a penny per gallon to the cost. The resolution passed unanimously, with councilor Anthony Pagano absent.
On the topic of the road diet, the only citizen comment came from Grady Grant of Gold Beach, who voiced support for slowing traffic down through town. “I bike through town with my daughter and it’s terribly unsafe as is,” he said.
Mayor Karl Popoff started the council discussion of the road diet off by noting that he had received an email from Nancy Sue Rose of Gold Beach who had compiled comments by residents of Port Orford. That city recently reconfigured their highway from 4 lanes to 3, similar to the plan being discussed for Gold Beach. The comments indicated people were mostly happy, other than the appearance of the road.
Popoff admitted he is a jaywalker because of people who fail to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, especially when some cars have stopped and other cars just swerve around them, assuming the car is stopped to make a turn. “I’ve been within a few feet of being clobbered several times,” he said. “That is a huge safety problem. That is the first thing we always look at is the safety of citizens.”
Looking at accident data provided by ODOT, Popoff noted, “The preponderance of the accidents are either rear-ending or turning maneuvers. How would rear-ending and turning maneuvers be affected if we went down to 2 lanes with a turn lane?”
“It should go down because the center lane is a turn lane, whereas now we don’t have turn lanes,” said councilor Larry Brennan. After the discussion, Mayor Popoff appointed Brennan and councilor Summer Matteson to work as a committee to follow up with Gold Beach Main Street, a proponent of traffic reconfiguration, and bring citizen and staff concerns to ODOT to relieve some of the workload from city administrator Jodi Fritts.
Addressing the local workforce housing shortage is the driving force behind limiting the number of vacation rentals located in residential zones of the city. Most of the vacation rentals in Gold Beach are not affected because they are located in commercial zones, which allow vacation rentals as an outright use. The proposal being considered by the council would limit the total number of vacation rentals to 10 in residential-zoned neighborhoods. Currently, out of 30 total vacation rentals registered in the city, 11 units are in residential zones.
Vacation rentals that are in the residential zones on the east side or in Hunter Creek do not rent as often as those with a view or ocean access located on the west side of the highway in commercial zones, according to Fritts.
The city would not lose much in lodging tax revenue, and the city would potentially benefit more by having more available workforce housing. “What we want are long-term rentals or ‘good’ vacation rentals,” Kaufman said.
The draft ordinance still needs some clarifications and revisions, which will come back to the next council meeting.
Other topics discussed:
• Mayor Popoff let the audience know that Budget, Planning and the Urban Renewal Advisory committees have vacancies and are looking for volunteers to serve on them.
• Lyndsey Dixon updated the council on her activities with Gold Beach Main Street.
• Gary Becker from the U.S. Census announced that a number of temporary jobs are available with the 2020 Census.
• David Barnes suggested that committees with vacancies might find people to fill them if the qualifications were broadened beyond required residency within the city limits. Barnes lives inside the urban growth boundary and would serve on a committee if allowed.
The next Gold Beach City Council meeting is scheduled for March 9 at 6:30 p.m., the second Monday, of the month due to several scheduling conflicts for the first Monday.