City of Yachats
VISION STATEMENT (prepared 1996)
AN ACTIVE VISION TO CREATE COMMUNITY FOR THE YACHATS AREA
An Image of the Future, As Seen in the Future
The year is 2020.
The waves still pound on the rocky shoreline of Cape Perpetua, the tides keep their regular cycle on the beach at Smelt Sands State Park, the water of the Yachats River continues to flow bright and clear down to where the seals fish for their dinner, and the winds blow clean and vigorously across the tree clad ridges and valleys of the area. But those winds also touch new additions to the area. Many people have chosen to add their lives to the community that calls itself Yachats. Some are people who have retired from a busy life other places. Others are families who have sought out this place as a positive environment to raise children. There are those who have found economic opportunities, and more elsewhere to maintain a lifestyle that could be found few other places.
Almost 25 years have passed since the people of the Yachats Area gathered to discuss, debate, then support a vision statement that described a shared image for what their community should be by 2020. To make that image a reality has taken hard work by many people and the establishment of new processes to keep the vision alive and useful.
There has developed an understanding, through work performed together, that all who live in the area share important values and common needs that must be met by people working together. To make that process function effectively required trust, but that trust only occurred where there was mutual respect and predictability. Experience taught that respect was most often reflected in courteous behavior to each other and a caring consideration for the ideas and feelings of everyone no matter what was the final decision.
Predictability has been provided both by the creation of this vision, as well as the annual update then approval of the associated action plan, and the establishment of an effective system for communication. Good communication occurred when all people were willing to speak candidly and openly because they understand that their ideas would not only be considered, but actively sought out. Further, that when disagreement occurred there was effective and fair means, such as mediation, used to resolve the important issues without attacks on persons or personalities.
The result was that Yachats has much to celebrate on a regular basis and they take the time to do just that. Each year those who participate in community activities are given special recognition. People who are involved with city, county, special district governing and appointed bodies are given special respect and understanding. Those who contributed as part of a local service groups or as individuals are also acknowledged and public appreciation expressed. Fostering Community
It took more than good processes to guide Yachats to the year 2020. People had to be willing to build on the best of what existed, while also adding new activities and facilities consistent with Yachats identity.
A clear image of Yachats as a community of people committed to their own unique blend of quality of life has kept growth and change on-track with the basic values so important to local residents. There continues to be a recognition of the special quality provided by the local natural environment - ocean, forest, streams, hills, and beaches, and that they all play a critical role in defining the community and its life.
However, there is also a recognition that the Yachats Area is more than the natural environment. It also values its small town atmosphere. A friendly place where life is slower, people know each other and the general atmosphere is that of a Coastal Village. A place where visitors are invited to share the communitys natural beauty and attractions, while respecting the local character and conditions that make it so attractive.
That character includes a strong commitment to the independence of thought, mind and creativity that is so important to community members. There is an understanding of the uniqueness of the communitys residents. That they come from diverse backgrounds and bring special values and perspectives. Yet, Yachatians recognize they must work together cooperatively, volunteering their time and resources for bettering the community and promoting the common good. They find that their diversity allows the community to bring to bear a level of experiences and skills unavailable in many places of a similar size.
The Commons is a focus for events that build a sense of community, such as an environmental education site, as well as a gathering place to discuss other important issues. To assure the effectiveness of the facility the Commons diversified its resources by developing electronic ties to libraries and other information sources, then making that data available electronically and by other means. Becoming recognized as an information resource it was possible to expand those services to include such activities as a rider board to match persons needing a ride to those with vehicles already planning to travel in a compatible direction. This is in addition to serving as a focus for expanded transit services. Regular community potlucks and local improvement projects coordinated and/or conducted at the Commons give people a chance to talk together and reach agreement while learning to know each other better. Of course all this activity requires the help of a director that helps to assure events take place as planned. The value of the Commons is so recognized that residents beyond the city limits created a recreation district to fund the Commons and its activities.
Celebrations and festivals are such a regular part of Yachats that the community is known for the quality and variety of its events, which has helped to spread the effect of the tourist influx so that the peak is not as great in the summer months. Those events are also used to recognize the efforts of local volunteers, while becoming part of Yachats unique identity, as well as providing an effective economic development tool. The artistic community benefits from the use of the celebrations to highlight their work and to promote the public display of their creations.
To help the areas young people play an effective role a Youth Council has been created and special events are scheduled that obtain their involvement and commitment. Much of the initial energy and resources to establish the Youth Council comes from the Residents Involvement Committee (RIC) and the associated neighborhood councils. RIC is appointed by the City Council and County Commissioners and provides a community-wide coordination function, regularly, contributing to the city newsletter, appointing an official neighborhood representative to coordinate with the city, while assuring local volunteers have useful activities to perform and at the same time receive the recognition they deserve. Much of their membership is drawn from the neighborhood councils that function throughout the area as forums for discussion, training grounds for potential leaders and neighborhood mediators, as well as providing effective places for community outreach effecting a wide variety of local services. One of the interesting results has been greater gender parity in those occupying local elected and appointed positions.
While many of the natural resources of the community remain untouched, there is substantial growth and change. Predominantly the community is a residential area, but to provide more affordable housing and to trade some density in the central area for more open spaces elsewhere the community has seen some two-story apartments added as part of mixed-use developments near the Commons.
The area around the Commons has seen significant change as business opportunities have expanded, next to the attractive new public parking area, along with the increased residential density. To assure the construction is of acceptable quality, design standards have been created after substantial involvement by the community, and are now enforced through the city processes. Malls have been left for other localities to provide. Cottage industries have sprung up in homes where the family provides all the employees and those involved are willing to keep the activities and their impacts small.
One of the more creative aspects of the Yachats Community has been the establishment of the area as a center for healing. Facilities have been added to attract people from all over the world who are seeking balance and renewed vitality. This has been a useful connection between the services along Highway 101 and the new ventures that have grown in the Yachats River and 10 Mile Creek Valleys. Local bed and breakfasts and small motels have also benefited from this new industry.
While economic development is recognized as important to the local quality of life, there is also a recognition that too much, or development of the wrong type, will damage the long-term viability of the area and its economy. Small, family-owned businesses are encouraged to provide useful diversity and to keep construction at a more human scale. The theme of human scale is used consistently in guiding local development decisions. The use of a more extensive pedestrian network throughout the area has also emphasized the need for small scale development and facilities.
It has been this emphasis on human scale, healing, artistic, and architectural quality, as well as protecting sacred places and significant natural resources that has kept the spiritual character of the community pre-eminent. The result has been that while great physical change has taken place, the overall character of Yachats is unchanged.
Stewarding the Landscape
It is the landscape that sets the context for Yachats and provides much for the communitys existence. The a natural riches provided to the area in terms of scenic views, forested hillsides, picturesque streamways, clean air and water, a diversity of wildlife and many other less dramatic, but equally important resources, not only creates economic benefits but provides the spiritual environment that gives meaning and purpose to so many of the communitys residents and visitors. The value of the land as a resource to be preserved, rather than just used, is recognized throughout the community. Stewardship is seen as a responsibility to nature the land, not to posses it.
Protecting the landscape has taken on a variety of forms. One of the initial efforts that provided great benefit later was the creation of a comprehensive inventory of the entire ecology. Included within that work was identification of wetland areas, streamways, watersheds, fish habitat and resources, viewscapes (in all directions) and other significant resources. While the inventory was not complete initially, it was added-to regularly as part of an on-going commitment to the community. The available data served as an effective information, base or at least an early warning system for potential problems that would need to be resolved.
Tree ordinances, cut-and-fill regulations, identification of important ecology sites and greenways (including gateways) interpretive signs and a variety of educational programs to encourage selective logging, protection of fish resources and the community landscape all serve to protect local resources. The establishment of a metropolitan planning area allows the community to address resources that go beyond the limits of the citys incorporated boundary.
Trails (including connections to the Oregon Coast Trail), highway turnouts and other points of access to the areas scenic resources all are planned with care and involvement of the communitys interested citizens.
Citizens also recognize that it is important to celebrate their successes in protecting the natural environment and in working together. Earth Day celebrations and other similar events not only help bring the community together, but also encourage more value be placed on the natural environment in everyday activities. Regulations on dumping lawn clippings were created, but the educational program that followed has just as much impact. Just as the creation of a surface water storage system was made possible by city planning, but implementation took place when private property owners made decisions to construct the needed facilities on their own land.
To keep people involved and informed a variety of techniques are used to assure that people know when to get involved and who to contact.
The link between a healthy environment and adequate urban services is better understood in the community, as is the connection between a healthy economy and financing those services. Creative funding solutions has become specialty in the areas projects.
Important local services such as the fire district have been retained in the central area while improved roadways have assisted in their service to more remote areas. Emergency preparedness is a major emphasis for this group. Their community outreach and education program is a model for other areas.
Yachats is recognized for establishing creative alternatives for urban services. Innovations such as composting toilets, effective alternatives to lawns, consolidated water storage and rain water cisterns have all given new options to the community. At the same time the importance of maintaining a healthy economy required effective compromises be made to assure that sufficient water and other resources are available to support community activities. These choices were made after study has been given to likely impacts and reasonable options.
Other innovations such as private business providing public restroom, with public assistance, have fostered innovative public services while building an effective working relationship between private owners and public agencies.
That cooperative attitude is extended into more effective working relationships between the various local jurisdictions and other service providers. County services are better known and used as the community has developed a more regular and effective contact with county agencies.
This new spirit of cooperation is helping to find other creative solutions, such as transportation alternatives that meet local environmental concerns while providing needed services. Rider boards and electric carts for transportation services, when combined with an improved pathway system (much of it based on an improved 804 trail) and local transit services, give many more people access to other needed urban services like medical, childcare, recreation and social services.
Urban gardens and other open spaces are retained as an important aesthetic quality while providing needed services. Concluding Statement
There were no easy solutions to finding the correct pathway for Yachats future. Every community must find its own unique solution. For the people of the Yachats Community those answers were based not upon a specific technology or the work of one agency or group. It was commitment to working together. To nurturing the natural environment that sustains all who live within it. To caring for each other and finding effective solutions to meet community-wide needs. To using the many special talents and gifts available within the people of Yachats in order to guide growth and foster the community everyone needs and wants.
The 2020 Vision Project Introduction or The 2020 Vision Project Covenant
City of Yachats