County reviews surplus property for housing

April 9 – In an effort to support new housing and social services, Clatsop County has identified excess land that can be developed by cities and nonprofits.

The county released a request for expressions of interest on Friday for 15 properties in Astoria, Warrenton and Seaside that can be used for low-income housing, social services and child care. Parties will have until May 13 to submit their ideas.

“Providing potentially buildable surplus land is one way the county can concretely address affordable housing needs in cities,” County Executive Don Bohn said in a statement. “We look forward to collaborating with our city and our nonprofit partners in an effort to move the needle.”

Patty Jo Angelini, county public affairs officer, said the county began working with the Oregon Counties Association and Angelo Planning Group, a Portland-based company, early last year to identify tools to help alleviate the shortage of affordable housing.

“Over the past year, local towns have formed committees, researched solutions, and listened to the concerns of local residents and businesses,” Angelini said in an email. “Although the county is limited in what we can do, we want to do everything we can do.”

Expressions of interest will be considered by the county and cities. County staff will make recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners.

Eight of the properties are located in Astoria. One is the site of the old Darigold building at the corner of Ninth and Duane streets. The others are neighboring vacant lots located between Olney Avenue and Astoria Middle School.

The county owns three properties in Warrenton, including over 14 acres off Ridge Road, 11 acres north of SW Ninth Street and east of Juniper Avenue, and approximately 3 acres off SW 11th Street. The smaller property is almost entirely covered with significant wetlands, and the others have portions covered with wetlands.

By the sea, the town has two neighboring plots in an industrial zone. One has access from N. Holladay Drive near 24th Avenue, the other has access from US Highway 101.

Two other properties at Seaside are located along Neawanna Creek. One is next to 12th Street and the other near Fifth Avenue. The property near Fifth has no direct access and has development constraints, so it has been identified as a poor candidate for affordable housing.

Astoria city councilors plan to review possible sites with county leaders during a city business meeting next Friday.

The county plans to bring county and city leaders together at the Clatsop County Fairgrounds on May 18 to discuss affordable housing, micro-housing and homeless services.

Housing has been an important public policy issue for several years. A countywide housing study released in 2019 found that while there was ample supply, much of the housing stock serves the second home and vacation rental market, leaving a lack of housing for residents to buy or rent.

County and city leaders have been criticized for the pace of their response to the housing crisis.

The county’s announcement on excess property came a week after Astoria City Council pulled out of a workforce housing project in Heritage Square due to concerns over cost and l vocal opposition from the community.

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