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Lincoln City diversifies its economy

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Articles - April 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Story by Jennifer Margulis // Photos by Adam Bacher
Blowing your own glass, or watching the experts, like glassblower Andrew Kogel, is one of Lincoln City's largest tourist draws along with the Chinook Winds Casino Resort on the north side of town and the Tanger Outlet Center.

No one in Lincoln City drives an electric car. But if you walk through the Taft District on the south side of town you will pass four electric charging stations, which the city welcomes visitors to use for free. The installation of these stations was a proactive move. Even before Nissan released the Leaf, Lincoln City decided to become the first place on the Oregon Coast where an electric vehicle could be charged.

Don’t get the wrong impression. Lincoln City is not known for being “green.” Like much of the Oregon Coast, it’s a mostly working-class community of people who eke out a livelihood from the town’s main industry: tourism. But unlike other coastal towns, Lincoln City has steadily recovered from the economic downturn.

Risk taking, combined with a robust collaboration between city officials and business owners, and an understanding that sustainable economic viability is something that happens slowly have been three key factors that have helped Lincoln City become a vibrant community that attracts tourists even in the shoulder season.

Before 1965 Lincoln City didn’t exist. Instead, there were six separate areas strung along the winding Highway 101: Cutler City, Delake, Nelscott, Oceanlake, Wecoma Beach and Taft. Residents joke that their city is a boa constrictor that swallowed six chickens. Others prefer to compare it to a string of pearls with six gems. But even in the 1920s, before these towns were known as “Lincoln City,” the economy here has depended mostly, if not solely, on tourism.

Still, Lincoln City has little of the carnival aspect of Seaside and Newport: You won’t find bumper cars, wax museums or arcades near the beach. Residents remain surprised that Delake Bowl, which opened on May 31, 1938, still stands. Instead, Lincoln City is an eclectic place with Highway 101 as its Main Street where you’re as likely to meet a tattooed dad in the elevator wearing shorts in January as a well-heeled government administrator in a power suit. Even the population is hard to pinpoint. Although the government census estimates that the city’s inhabitants numbered 7,849 in 2005, city manager David Hawker explains that on any given day some 15,000 people are using the city’s services, such as  water. One-third of the homes in Lincoln City are second homes, frequented by people who live elsewhere but visit on the weekends and during summer.



0 #1 Correction to your opening paragraphJDaschel 2011-03-28 09:16:13
There are at least 2 resident families in Lincoln City who drive electric vehicles, we own one of them. We are supporters of the EV charging stations not because we need them (we charge in our garages) but because there will be a large influx of EV-owners in the Willamette Valley in the next couple years, who will need a place for charging when they enjoy the coast. We welcome them to Lincoln City!
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Cathleen Shea
0 #2 Cathleen Shea 2011-03-29 17:31:11
NW Natural Gas awarded Lincoln City the "First Smart Energy City" award in April 2010.

The EPA rated Lincoln City a "Green Power Community" in 2009; one of only eight cities, nationwide, at the time.

City-Data.com says the median household income in Lincoln City was $6695 in 2008. The median salary for Oregon was over $50711.

QualityInfo.org, Oregon Employment Dept’s website, talks about wage inequality in Oregon. They say out of the $63 billion dollars earned in Oregon in 2009, much of that money went to high wage earners vs. minimum wage earners. A different story than Ms. Margulis' article begins to emerge.

COLA increases on my pension are 2-3% per year. Maybe 17% over the mentioned time span. Am I better off? What about the cost of inflation compared to salary increases?

What about infrastructure? Mr. Hawker threatened to cut off the water to five families on city water because "it's too expensive to repair the line that runs in front of their homes." God save anyone trying to run a business from their home when the water gets cut off.

There are a lot of "neat" projects that have been done in town. They are scattered projects that show no specific goal to the commitment of the long term needs of this city -- needs like a water system that doesn’t lose 30% of its water between the plant and the faucet.

If we keep talking about the surface things that draw people to this town, but do not address the needs of the full time citizens. There will be no town to visit for a vacation.

Thanks for writing the article. It made look up real facts about my town.
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