OCEANSIDE Incorporation Conversation – The last word

It was a little more than a year ago that the ONA Board introduced the topic of incorporation to Oceansiders as an alternative to continuing under the governance of the Tillamook County Commissioners. At that time, we stated: “Our sole goal is to foster an informed and robust community conversation about how to prepare for Oceanside‘s second hundred years!”  Wherever they stand, few could deny that we achieved that goal – although “robust” may putting it mildly.  Now the ballots are arriving in our mailboxes, and Oceansiders will have the final word in choosing our future.

While the ONA has formally endorsed incorporation, we have limited our campaign commentary to an analysis of major issues that we hoped would aid undecided Oceansiders in making their own decisions.  In this final installment of the “Conversation,” however, we will offer observations on three propositions frequently put forward by those who disagree with the ONA’s endorsement.

Assertion No. 1. Oceanside is too small to support a city government.

Incorporation opponents offer this as an intuitive or self-evident proposition, but we can find little or no objective support for it.  There would be 35 smaller incorporated cities in Oregon, and in Tillamook County, Oceanside would fall somewhere in the middle in terms of population and area. Source:  List of cities in Oregon – Wikipedia

City / Population (residents) / Area
Garibaldi / 830 / 1.37 sq. miles
Manzanita / 603 / .82 sq. miles
Wheeler / 422 / .52 sq. miles
     Oceanside / 366 / 1.04 sq. miles
Cloverdale / 271 / .8 sq. miles
Nehalem / 209 / .24 sq. miles

In terms of publicly managed entities, an Oceanside city government directed by 5 elected city councilors would actually be smaller than the other local public bodies that are each already under the successful supervision of 5 locally elected directors.

 Agency / Employees / Budget (approx.)
Netarts-Oceanside Sanitary District / 9 employees / $1.5 million (operating budget)
Oceanside Water District / 4 employees / $1 million
Netarts-Oceanside Fire-Emergency District / 4 employees / $800,000
     City of Oceanside / 2.5 employees / $580,000 (excluding TLT reserve)

In terms of residents willing to serve in city government, we note that 9 candidates filed for the 5 seats available on the initial City Council.

Assertion No. 2. The incorporation petition could have excluded non-Village neighborhoods and only retained them for their tax revenue.

The history and incorporation hearing record do not support this. Instead, they reflect that the petitioners mainly adopted the existing Oceanside unincorporated community boundary that was formally established by the County Commissioners in the county Comprehensive Land Use Plan adopted 20 years ago. County officials explained at the incorporation hearings that, prior to that time, the entire area (except The Capes) was subject to farm or rural classifications involving larger minimum lot sizes and more restricted uses than are currently permitted. If the Village had sought to incorporate without those neighborhoods, and the measure passed, Community Development Director Sarah Absher and state land use officials testified that the outer neighborhoods would have reverted to their original, restricted zoning status – which would drastically curtail future development rights and trigger major litigation.  Accordingly, even if the petition had excluded the outer neighborhoods, the County Commissioners would have ordered them included to avoid these consequences.  Only The Capes development had pre-existing zoning in place at the time Oceanside was formed, which enabled it to be excluded without the same complications.

Assertion No. 3.  The incorporation proposal will serve Village interests at the expense of the surrounding neighborhoods.

This “us versus them” narrative is both unfortunate and unfounded.  The three main services identified in the proposal are road maintenance, growth management and short-term rental regulation.  We note that there are actually more miles of public roads, more vacant buildable lots and more recently licensed short-term rentals in the outer neighborhoods than there are in the Village.  As a matter of pure numbers, this means that the outer neighborhoods would stand to benefit from Oceanside city services at least as much as the Village.  Moreover, 4 of the 10 candidates for City Council are from non-Village neighborhoods, making it likely there will be fair representation on the body that will actually make benefits decisions.

With that, we close the “Incorporation Conversation” and urge everyone to be sure to vote!

ONA Board