SEASIDE — The city plans to move forward with the creation of an urban renewal area encompassing land along South Holladay, Avenue S from U.S. Highway 101 east and the southern section of Highway 101.
Funds could be used for bridge safety, traffic improvements, property acquisitions or affordable housing, among other potential projects.
“What we’re planning is what the city is going to look like out 20 years,” Mayor Jay Barber said after a community forum Wednesday. “I’m excited about the potential to get good community impact and then plan for those next years.”
Urban renewal is a financing program authorized under state law and implemented locally that allows for the use of property tax revenues to grow the economy in blighted areas.
These typically contain sections of a city which are underdeveloped and not contributing fully to the economy, according to a handout provided by Elaine Howard Consulting.
Funds from previous Seaside urban renewal projects have been used to bring improvements to the Prom, the Downing pocket park, removals of overhead utilities, downtown lighting, the city’s sewage plant and the fire station among others.
Funding comes through increases in assessed values of local properties, consultant Scott Vanden Bos said. As new development arrives and existing properties are improved, assessments rise and see matching property tax increases.
Property taxes on the growth in assessed value in the urban renewal area — in the model used, about 25 years — are allocated to the city’s Urban Renewal Agency and not the taxing districts.
“We get the money from the taxpayer,” City Manager Mark Winstanley said. “The taxing districts stand on the side. The amount of money they can tax against in the urban renewal district gets frozen.”
In Clatsop County, neighboring taxing districts include the Port of Astoria, 4H, Seaside Road, Union Health, Sunset Park, Sunset Transportation, Clatsop Community College, Northwest Regional Education Service District and Seaside School District 10. The county must review the plan before its approval.
City upgrades can lead to higher home values and in turn higher assessments, ultimately adding to funds for the urban renewal district. The city’s last urban renewal district helped fund improvements on North Holladay Drive.
“This is where urban renewal has its impact,” Winstanley said. “That’s what we’re seeing on North Holladay. The neighborhood’s getting better and better and better. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what we hope to do with a new urban renewal district.”