Council discusses extra security for Fourth of July

During its regular meeting on Monday, the Lincoln City City Council revisited the idea of bringing on several unarmed private security officers to help the Lincoln City Police Department with its Fourth of July illegal firework enforcement efforts.

After discussing several options, the council directed staff to contract with TCB Security to employ five unarmed security officers at beach access points with no enforcement authority for 12 hours on the Fourth of July at the estimated cost of $2,175.

The private security officers would likely be relegated to observing and serving as a uniformed presence to deter illegal firework use, and would be unable to issue citations, confiscate fireworks or arrest offenders. The private security officers would instead report on  illegal firework use to LCPD officers and may pair with LCPD officers for after dark patrols, enabling an extra five patrols.

With a limited number of officers, the Lincoln City Police Department often has trouble enforcing the law when it comes to illegal firework use on the Fourth of July in the Lincoln City area. The department patrols both city and the beach, but simply doesn’t have enough resources to cover the entire seven miles of Lincoln City for the entire 12-hour peak period of the holiday.

“The biggest challenge for us on the Fourth of July is when it gets dark, and we’re trying to patrol the city and the beaches while we only have 30 personnel,” Police Chief Jerry Palmer said. “This would give us 35. It’s more bodies, more eyes and a more visible presence. Whether they issue citations or not and if that has an effect, we won’t know until we experiment with it.”

Palmer said that he’s been deploying every available resource he can at the annual Fourth of July event and that at this point the only notable change would be for the city to provide more support.

Palmer added that this year’s Fourth of July weekend was likely going to be much different than previous years given the COVID-19 pandemic. He expects a similar degree of behavior to what he’s seen with spring break, with people ignoring guidelines in an attempt to relieve stress.

“I’m hoping we’re not overwhelmed and that we only have the same crowds kind of as we’ve been experiencing,” Palmer said. “I think there will be a difference in the atmosphere that weekend for this year. I’m hoping everyone can come and have a good time and we can keep things contained like the past, but if there’s an expectation that we’re going to stop fireworks then everyone is going to be disappointed.”

Following the decision, a motion later in the meeting to purchase two $32,000 ATVs to help with enforcement failed.

Other notable items from the Monday meeting include:

•The council received a presentation regarding a potential new business from Bird Rides, which would provide Lincoln City with a fleet of shared scooters accessed via an app. The scooters would be speed capped at 15 miles per hour, monitored via GPS, include features to monitor proper use and safety and would be managed locally by a Bird Rides employee.

Several councilors were opposed to the idea and raised various concerns including safety, restricted use on the highway and rule enforcement. A motion to direct staff to work with Bird Rides to address the concerns raised was seconded, but failed, ending consideration by the city for the time being.

• The council received an annual update regarding the Lincoln City Cultural Center, which included information on several renovations and a $15,000 budget request to renovate part of the building’s fire suppression system.

There was also information provided on the Cultural Plaza project, which would renovate the area around the Cultural Center and currently has a budget of $2.5 million.

There were concerns raised regarding the presentation being directed to the city council instead of the city manager as is stipulated by the cultural center’s lease. City Attorney Richard Appicello was concerned about the center’s request that the city deny an easement request by Pacific Power. Appicello asked that no action be taken on that matter until city staff review the situation due to stipulations in the lease.

• The council approved several art installations in various parks and public spaces in Lincoln City.

• The council removed a hold it placed on the city’s percentage of public arts funds at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The hold was for $123,488 budgeted for public art purchases and was put on hold due to the uncertainty the city was facing during the pandemic.

• The council approved a proclamation proclaiming April 30 as Arbor Day 2021. The city has been a designated TreeCity USA by the Arbor Day Foundation for 13 years and will host public Arbor Day events at the community center in partnership with Driftwood Public Library.

• The council approved a one-year rollover request for the municipal employee union’s current collective bargaining agreement. The contract covers all non-supervisory city staff, excluding police department staff.

• The council approved a construction contract for City Hall’s heating, ventilation and air conditions system with Point Monitor Corp. at an estimated $194,293.

• The council approved several items from an executive session held before the regular meeting Monday. The council approved a personnel action discussed during the executive session. It also approved a motion for the city attorney to seek the acquisition or donation of a wetlands parcel, which would not exceed an undisclosed amount of money. The council also approved a fair share reimbursement agreement of a proposed public improvement to be granted/dedicated to the public via an easement.

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