City passes Heights Urban Renewal District

July 30, 2011

For those Hood River Heights residents and businesses that have longed for a fresher, more functional feel to their neighborhood, the future is becoming a little brighter.

On July 25, the Hood River City Council voted unanimously to accept the consultant-prepared planning document as the guideline for the Heights Urban Renewal District 20-year development process.

Charged with implementing a tax sharing plan designed to fund improvements for streets, lighting, sidewalks, parks, building façades and infrastructure such as storm drains and sewers, the Heights UR agency will now be able to move forward.

"A good showing" of citizens filled the city council meeting to provide comment, support and some opposition to the proposal, according to City Manager Bob Francis.

Clarification was once again provided by Francis and other city representatives in both the city council packet and in their responses during the meeting, outlining details on how the tax-restructuring process worked for property owners in the area.

One voiced concern focused on whether taxes might increase. According to presentation materials, Urban Renewal Districts do not increase taxes but rather create a new tax-sharing structure within existing tax rates. As property values rise naturally, the increased returns are then shifted for use on UR projects for a period of 20 years.

Several local business owners detailed their support of the project, including Tony White of Farmers Insurance, who also currently chairs the Heights Business Association.

"We feel that with the overall economy right now, this is a logical, cost-effective way to proceed with improvements on the Heights," said White in a later phone interview.

"We don't want to look identical to the downtown area, but we do want the streetscape to reflect the same pride of ownership. The HBA is in favor of adopting this plan," he said.

Eric Smith, of Alan- Smith Insurance and owner of a large new building along 13th Street, reportedly expressed concerns that the HBA did not represent all of the businesses in the area. According to Francis, Smith also noted that he had not received advance information on the proposal.

Francis responded that a super notice was sent to all residents within the city of Hood River and that information has been posted on the City's website for several months. The News has also run two front-page articles on the process.

Although not changing the wording of the adopted plan, the July 21 planning committee made two additional recommendations for the Heights UR district.

The first advised the city to develop design standards for façade renovations within the district. The second acknowledged that it might be necessary to make property purchases (for parks or other projects) based on good sales prices or opportune moments and that the plan should provide for that flexibility.

The now adopted Heights UR district plan will allow for eventual project funding however monies are not expected to become available for several years, until property values rise enough to feed into the system.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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