By Brian Cameron
In a meeting at the Tillamook Bay Community College conference room the mood was quiet and hushed as Tom Eddington, the speaking representative for CZB Consulting, went over the findings and recommendations by the Tillamook County Housing Task Force, the organized response to Tillamook County’s housing problem.
What has burgeoned into a very real issue not only here in Tillamook County but also state, and even nation wide, the task force was asked to take a look at the County and help city planners, realtors, developers and others pave a way forward to help address the ongoing and impending problem of mid-to-low income housing in and around the area.
“We simply don’t have the units available for low to mid income people,” Eddington said. “Essentially it boils down to the fact that there needs to be a re-balancing in order to address the problem.”
Speaking with Tillamook County Department of Community Development Director Bryan Pohl on the matter he seemed to enjoy the results of the study and suggested some of the details it provided were a bit eye opening.
“Well, its obvious we have a housing crisis in Tillamook County,” Pohl said. “A group of area industries and businesses got together to bring on CZB Consulting and it seems from day one they poured themselves into providing a comprehensive study.”
One surprising aspect Pohl wasn’t expecting was how the study provided good data on all types of homes in the area, not just facilities that are known rental areas, but instead talked about how in general the area suffers from being a proverbial stuck housing market. Meaning people in Tillamook County tend to not move around too much once they’ve found a good rental or purchased a house.
“I felt that was a really good thing to include in the study,” Pohl said. “Compared with my peers in my home town in the Midwest I was sort of shocked when I moved here and realized no one was casually buying a house and then moving on a few years later. The fact that people don’t do that here speaks volumes about the residential status.”
Throughout the housing task force process Tillamook County Commissioner Bill Baertlein has been one of the steadfast County officials who has been following the process since its inception.
“I’m pretty pleased with the Task Force and what they’ve been able to do,” Baertlein said. “We’re now in a much better position to roll out progress and hopefully begin to address these much needed issues in the County with housing.”
According to Baertlein the next step in the process is to bring on a regional housing coordinator for the County, likely with the Department of Community Development. Once that is done then the County will have a specialist who’ll be able to work with landowners who may want to develop housing options but might not exactly know the proper logistical path to do so.
Another option Baertlein is exploring is an augmentation to the newly formed Transient Lodging Tax (TLT) funds which would involve lobbying the state legislature for a higher lodging tax rate in order to have more funds to earmark for housing needs specifically. Commissioner Baertlein does admit that it’s a long shot but describes the process as a logical place to find funding.
“We are lucky to have a chance to get ahead of the housing game,” Baertlein said. “Considering nation wide it’s a continuous problem, we’re lucky to be addressing this issue head on.”
To view the results of the Housing Task Force you can log onto www.careinc.org and click the Housing Task Force button on the home page.