Astoria is not Manzanita beautiful, but it's undeniably beautiful. It's not Seaside beach, but it's close to the ocean. Its allure and attractiveness is in its working waterfront and maritime traditions.
If tourism supplants industry as the primary focus, we will become the next Monterey, California. Then, only the ultra-wealthy will live here, and eventually only wealthy tourists will visit.
One mainstay being pushed aside is our commercial fishermen. Gillnetters are being banished from the main river at the insistence of wealthy Portland interests. Our marinas are being turned into Disneyland-like amusement zoos, forcing our large fishing fleet to move.
We spend millions capturing every ounce of human waste, while we encourage an animal population to deposit an equivalent daily amount directly into the river. At the very least, it's unsanitary.
Sea lions are a plague like locusts; just cuter, smarter and not insects. Meanwhile, they are decimating our signature salmon and sturgeon populations. All this with reticence from our political leaders. Where's the outrage?
As the new breed of politician — who lacks any institutional knowledge — capitulates to the lure and pressure of out-of town "progressive development" money, our waterfront identity is extracted like a natural resource as if we were a third-world country in the colonial era.
We're at a tipping point. Maintain a working waterfront and marine character, with good jobs and the dynamism provided by young families, or become an exclusive retirement enclave with very little original charm.