Local News – City Code Regulates Business Colors; Gas Prices Rise; Eco Trek; Prisoners Released

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Bright colors bring code provision to light…

Sometimes the old adage of “no good deed goes unpunished” rings true.

Jose Garcia spent extra time and cash earlier this spring to make his restaurant, Los Compadres Tacqueria, look more presentable.  That included a coat or two of bright lime green and orange paint, a common sight in his original home of Jalisco, Mexico.

But, what Garcia didn’t know was that the City of Florence has the authority to regulate colors on commercial buildings in the downtown area.  Some residents complained about the colors, including a member or two of the Florence Planning Commission.

City Manager Jacque Betz had a slightly different outlook.

Jacque Betz – “He did a great job of cleaning up the area to attract new customers to his business and we’re going to continue to do what we can to support that.”

But, she acknowledged, the city’s Downtown Plan, approved in 1999 does require owners of commercial buildings to get pre-approval before painting.  Something she admits has happened rarely if at all over the past 13-years.

Jacque Betz – “When you look at the city code it’s very vague and doesn’t provide the city staff criteria on how you do that color selection process.”

She spoke with Garcia who agreed to repaint the screen around an outdoor patio, but the overall color scheme would remain.  Still, she adds, the episode points out a need for either more education and outreach on the part of the city, or… a change.

Jacque Betz – “We do have these guidelines in place right now in regards to colors and businesses and either we need to change that so it’s more specific language or we need to remove it.”

Betz says she would like to have some direction from the Planning Commission.

Jacque Betz – “If it’s something that they want us to pursue they need to bring that back to staff or if the council wants to weigh in on that as well.  But the important thing is that we continue to support our small businesses.”

After it became public that there were complaints about the paint scheme of Los Compadres, City Hall began receiving comments in support of the bright colors.

Crude oil hikes push retail gas prices up

The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline streaked up by 19-cents in Florence in the past week… reversing many of the gains motorists had picked up from falling prices over the past several weeks.  This week’s local average is $3.58, six cents less than Oregon’s average price of $3.64 as measured by Triple-A.  Prices nationwide have increased as well… the average went up by seven cents and is at $3.48.  Crude oil prices are getting the blame for the hikes.  Oregon’s average price is 11th highest in the nation.

Jail releases last week…

Officials at the Lane County Jail released a total of 51 individuals last week.  20 of those were prisoners who did not have to serve their full sentence because of a lack of space.  31 pre-trial defendants were also released and ordered to return for their court dates.  One prisoner was released the same day he was sentenced to 60-days for possession of a controlled substance.  Lane County has just over 120 jail beds available because of severe funding restrictions.

EcoTrek returns

Trekkers enjoy the Gwynn Creek Trail within the Cape Perpetua Scenic area while learning about the cultural history of the area. They were treated to a living history presentation that included visits from a Native Alsi woman sharing stories of how plants were used and light house keeper’s wife on how the road around Heceta Head was completed. US Forest Service photo by Maria Gammon

The return of a popular program at Cape Perpetua Scenic Area, 17 miles north of Florence, means hikers can experience more than just walking the trails.  They’ll have the chance to take their own field ranger along with them to maximize the experience.

Carol Daviscourt, a Siuslaw National Forest field ranger, says the popular “EcoTrek” series will return to Cape Perpetua four times over the next six weeks.  Daviscourt says EcoTreks are great for hikers who want a more in-depth experience.  She adds the guided hikes, the first of which is this Saturday afternoon at one, are free, but a valid federal recreation pass is required within the scenic area.

Daviscourt also advises hikers to make advance reservations by calling the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center at 541-547-3289.