“Redzone; How will it affect the Newport Community?”
Stacks of brightly colored toys line well stocked shelves in the cozy old-fashioned toy store located in Newport Oregon. Each item, carefully chosen by long-term owners Sue and Bill Taylor is a reminder of traditional and contemporary trends that children and parents amuse themselves with. The stock includes many educational games and items, puppets, dolls, dress-up items, and science toys. They pride themselves on serving the population of Newport and the many visitors that pass through this wonderfully charming coastal community each year. The shop came from a dream that Sue had one night about 12 years ago. She woke Bill up at three in the morning to tell him “we are going to open a toy store.” Bill thought she might have been a little crazy at that point, but always supportive of each other-he agreed to follow her dream, and thus the Sandcastle Toy Shop was born. Bill and Sue originally started out in what they describe as a “shoebox” sized toy store and now have grown into a thriving downtown location near city hall. However, they have begun to question whether or not they will be able to sustain Newport’s première toyshop if the proposed hazardous zoning changes are put into effect by the city council. The toyshop they have successfully run for over 11 years, their dream, is fast becoming a daily worry, as the council looms closer to making final decisions.
If the council approves the changes to zoning and building codes it could affect community life in multiple ways. The negative impact on property value, the skyrocketing insurance costs, and reduced coastal “redzone” building areas could potentially cause the migration of residents away from Newport in an already downturned economy. Schools will see continued declines in enrollment, meaning less funding, and over half of the children attending public schools in the Lincoln County already receive free or reduced lunches. Shops will suffer as fewer customers purchase items, and as a novelty store the Taylors worry what will become of their business. They pride themselves on having multi-generational Newport families buy from them, the joy they get out of being a mom-and-pop shop, knowing most of their customers, and bringing quality toys to children and parents alike. “I enjoy focusing on the human aspect of the business,” Bill said “It’s like inviting people into our home: be sure to say hello and goodbye to everyone who comes into the store, and be sincere. You’ve got to put your heart into it, that’s really it. In 11 years, we’ve seen a whole generation of kids grow up and move on; some drop by occasionally. It’s an enjoyable job, and there’s a certain amount of quality of life that’s important.”
While the Taylors understand the necessity of updating the zoning laws, they also have a stake in whether or not the laws are put into effect. They are hoping that some kind of compromise can be reached between city council members and the property owners who will be most affected by the outcomes. Their livelihood depends on it.
Profile #2 Non-stakeholder
George Priest of DOGAMI (Department of Geology and Mineral Services) knows all too well the impact that his reports will have on entire communities. He takes his job very seriously when making recommendations and advises lawmakers on the best choices for the environment. His job may seem like a “walk on the beach”, but it can be far from that as he explains the mapping techniques and risk reports that he is responsible for. Priest B.S./M.S./PhD., an experienced geologist, professor, conference presenter, and published author; now works for DOGAMI. Priest’s report is the leading cause for the city’s push to rezone Newport’s coastline and his concerns about the building that has previously occurred and will in the future, he considers to be potentially hazardous to the environment and structures.
He specializes in coastal erosion, with a specific emphasis on normal erosion (as opposed to large storms or tsunami erosion). He began working with the state in 1979 and is advising the City of Newport on the proposed building code changes. Ideally he would like to see the city use the new and improved laser mapping technique named LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging). It is much more accurate than the previous method, but may cause the need for even more zonal changes if used. He has instead recommended the use of the maps made in 2004 as a way to update the zoning laws from 1977, but not bring further dispute over the amount of land that should be re-zoned. He has compassion for what it will do to property values, but his concerns over erosion and safety outweigh the sure loss that property owners will face.
He has introduced the council to the three zones augmentation and two types of shorelines. High, Moderate, and Low risk areas and dune-backed beaches and bluff-backed shorelines. On dune-backed beaches the high-risk areas range from 138-510 feet width. Moderate risk is from 279-772 feet and Low risk areas were identified as ranging from 316-928 feet. Priest listed what are considered to be the most severe warnings possible and the waves accompanying those measurements would be substantial. It is more likely that the bluff-backed model is a more accurate predictor of the future erosion pattern.
Bluff-backed erosion High risk was assumed over a 60-year period and would only range from 20-30 feet wide, greater erosion if the slope were steeper. Moderate risk was assumed at 60-100 years and ranged from 40-225 feet depending on the type of geology. Low risk was assumed as a gradual retreat over a 100-year period and ranged from 60-420 feet in width. Priests biggest concern with all the mapping practices that have been done by he and his team, is that the public is informed and that trained licensed professionals are making sure that “the work is actually done” and “that all the assessments on the property are done properly.”
Priests advice and experience have not fallen on deaf ears, as the city council weighs the cost between property value and environmental protection.