Proposed Property Sale; Reimbursement District; Elephant Seal; Air Quality Awareness

Proposed Property Sale

At this evening’s Florence City Council Meeting the council will consider a sale of a portion of city property located to the Northwest of the Justice Center on 9th street.  The two tax lots make up approximately 1.48 acres.  The property has been deemed as surplus property and has been available for sale since 2018.  The council will first hear and consider written and oral testimony regarding the sale in a public hearing and will then deliberate on the proposed sale with a possible approval of the sale following.  The buyers are proposing a multi-unit affordable apartment complex with approximately 36 units along with an early learning facility.  Expectations are that the apartment complex would be completed by December 2026 and the Early Learning Center by December 2027.

Reimbursement District

The city council will also hold a public hearing to hear written and oral testimony regarding a proposed Reimbursement district along the path of the Rhododendron Street improvement. In short, the city will seek financial reimbursement from the properties directly affected by the realignment.  Assessments will be made to calculate the economic benefit that the properties will receive as part of the changes made to the streetscape. The idea being to recuperate some of the costs of construction with assessments commensurate with the density of the properties and the potential equivalent dwelling units the properties can construct. The properties in question are 8 tax lots along the construction project.  The Reimbursement District, if approved, would have a 15-year shelf life.

Elephant Seal

A beached juvenile elephant seal near the mouth of the Siuslaw River Friday caught the attention of several residents and prompted a report to the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network. People were concerned that the seal may have been injured or ill. But Jim Rice, the coordinator of the network, said on social media that looking at photos of the seal, it appeared to be healthy. Rice, a biologist with Oregon State University, said it was normal for elephant seals to “haul out” and stay on the beach for several days this time of year while they molt. Elephant seals breed along the Mexican and California coasts and are usually migrating to feeding grounds in the North Pacific this time of year. People should give them a wide berth and leave them alone in order to reduce their stress.

Air Quality Awareness

This week agencies are raising awareness about air quality. Led by the U-S Environmental Protection Agency, air quality awareness week is highlighting the impacts of poor air, with a special focus on wildfires and smoke today. Travis Knudsen with the Springfield-based Lane Regional Air Protection Agency says small particles known as p-m two-point-five in wildfire smoke can cause itchy eyes, coughing and other short-term respiratory problems.

“If you are someone who already suffers from respiratory issues, like you have asthma, it makes those acute symptoms that much more challenging and potentially problematic from a health perspective.”

Knudsen says p-m two-point-five can penetrate deep into the lungs. He also notes that the Northwest is seeing more wildfires and his agency attributes that to climate change. Smoke from wildfire season is at its peak in the Northwest starting around midsummer and lasting through early fall. Knudsen advises people to check the air quality index during smoke season, and says people might need to reschedule their outside activities – such as running or working out – based on the air quality.

“Maybe when our quality is bad we reconsider those outdoor activities and instead just stay inside with a HEPA air purifier running so we are not being exposed to that harmful pollution from wildfire smoke.”

On Tuesday, the focus is on asthma. Tuesday, May 7th, is World Asthma Day.