Many thanks for your time spent on the endorsement interview of Sept. 25 between Kerry Smith and myself.
Since Smith is on safari in Africa, l view this letter as my last opportunity to highlight the stark contrast between the two of us as Gearhart City Council Position 1 candidates.
Reflecting on the interview there are many practical differences which I believe Gearhart needs to know. The following are a few of those differences:
• Smith on at least two occasions has stated Gearhart needs to be dragged into the 21st century;
• Smith advocates for the city annexing new lands for high-density affordable apartments; and
• Smith’s response to the lack of budgeting regarding many of the livability goals of the city’s comprehensive plan was: “The city is short on revenues.”
As to Gearhart being dragged into the 21st century — I believe this is Smith’s code for more growth. Historically Gearhart has always managed to determine its own cultural values. Taxpayers do not require an interpreter to shape their life styles or values. The continual reliance on the comprehensive plan is probably driven by some form of revenue sharing but this also leads to increasing encroachment by county and state government into Gearhart affairs.
Smith took an additional step by advocating for annexation to accommodate affordable high density apartments in north Gearhart. I understand how critical affordable housing is to our small businesses, our tourism, and our aging population. However, Smith neglected to address the operative word of affordability. He neglected to acknowledge the stress and costs such growth would place on all support services and natural resources. The issue of affordability doesn’t need to be placed on the Gearhart taxpayer. This is a regional issue and should be left to the county and state to formulate and fund — Gearhart can determine its appropriate role, if any, after funding sources are resolved.
Smith presumes he knows your values; your cultural priorities and your best interest better than yourself. His actions are driven by esoteric and unfunded goals of the city’s comprehensive plan. Goals which, if honored, would have added to Gearhart’s livability. Sadly, for the residents, Smith’s tenure has left Gearhart’s culture unfunded. During the last four years Smith has relied on ever increasing property taxes but by his own admission the city remains short of revenue to achieve many of the plan’s livability goals. There are alternative consumption taxes available to reach these goals such as increased impact and permitting fees along with certain sin taxes. These fees would shift increased tax burdens off of captive property taxes over to new incremental growth and tourism.
This upcoming vote is about enhancing the condition of all Gearhart residents. Its a vote for historical and cultural values. Its a vote to protect and improve our habitat and our livability but most importantly its a vote to keep Gearhart just the way it is. Gearhart’s uniqueness, as in the past, is now caught between the extreme pressures of commercialization and high density urbanization. Smith’s lack of solutions will do nothing to diminish this dilemma. However, if you believe as I do, Gearhart deserves to enhance its beauty; to hold on to its uniqueness and to protect our oasis by the sea, then I ask for your vote.