During an annual goal setting retreat, Cannon Beach city councilors discussed project priorities for the upcoming year, including affordable housing, developing the South Wind evacuation site, renovating city hall and purchasing the former Cannon Beach Elementary School site.
Over the course of six hours, councilors parried between various topics, ranging from long-term financing options, priority capital projects like the affordable RV park homes proposed last year, to even smaller topics like considering public Wi-Fi or town signage changes.
Issues surrounding emergency preparedness were a common theme throughout the meeting — a topic of particular significance for new City Manager Bruce St. Denis. He encouraged councilors to accelerate emergency preparedness efforts as large as moving forward with South Wind design plans to specific projects like replacing water tanks with ones that are seismically rated by current standards.
“(These tanks) were built in a time where (seismic standards) weren’t taken as seriously. It’d be a shame to have a small earthquake and lose our water system,” said St. Denis.
The city council also discussed the importance pursuing solutions to create more affordable housing. In the citizen survey, the topic again was rated as a top issue, and the strategic plan still calls for 25 units to be provided by the end of 2018.
While plans are still in the works to introduce park model homes in the RV Park sometime this year, Mayor Sam Steidel and others on the council felt addressing affordable housing is going to take address larger realities like the prevalence of short term rentals and high property values.
“How do you provide long-term when short-term rental is the profit?” Steidel said. “The income you could get from long-term versus a short-term rental used to be on par, now you can make much more than a short-term.”
“Those houses aren’t rental properties. They aren’t properties people can rent,” councilor Brandon Ogilvie added, in reference to high property values.
There was also renewed interest in prioritizing the purchase of the former Cannon Beach Elementary School. In the most recent citizen survey, more than two-thirds citizens said buying the property from Seaside School District was a high priority or medium priority.
Finally, city staff and council expressed issues with the current city hall. Some asked that a study be conducted to see whether it is economically advantageous to attempt repairs like installing a fire sprinkler system and other structural issues, or if a full renovation is in order.