Local businesses are facing the double challenges of the effects of COVID-19 and the off-season nature of travel to Cannon Beach in the winter.
The city of Cannon Beach Council met Tuesday, Oct. 13, in work session to discuss ways it might help local businesses get through the off-season winter months. That spilled into a need to extend the discussion to the 20th.
“The City’s COVID-19 Emergency Declaration gave staff the ability to approve certain conditions that are not normally allowed under our ordinances to assist our businesses in dealing with the effects of the pandemic,” City Manager Bruce St. Denis stated in a report in the council packet.
Last April, The Gazette reported that the city had $302,000 in its Tourism and Arts Fund reserves, available for a cash grant program to individual businesses. Many businesses received grant money.
Maggie and Henry is one local business whose traffic was affected by the COVID-19 situation.
Margo Dueber, co-owner of Maggie and Henry, talked with The Gazette about why they decided to close the walk-in store part of the business at the end of September.
Maggie and Henry, a store that sold casual weekend wear for men and women, operated in “one form or another since the mid-80s,” Dueber said. They will continue their business online at maggieandhenry.com.
“COVID was a big hit (to the business),” Dueber said. “My lease was up. I had to make a decision [whether to remain in business] in this environment or keep just the online store.”
Recently, business owners completed a survey asking for ideas on how the city could help them get through the winter.
Jim Paino, executive director of the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce, said at the Wednesday, Oct. 14, Morning Meeting that the council decided to continue the discussion at a special session on Oct. 20.
Some ideas included bringing more people into Cannon Beach by relaxing the short term rental 14 day rule something like what was done in the summer. This would allow property owners to rent their homes more days of the month.
Greg Swedenborg, president of the chamber of commerce board, was at the Wednesday Morning Meeting. Swedenborg said the 1,800 people who live in Cannon Beach are not going to be able to support all the businesses by themselves.
At the Wednesday Morning Meeting, people discussed some ideas for helping businesses.
George Vetter said the store doors are blocked off while people are filtered to go inside. Outdoor merchandising might be a partial solution.
Paino said the tents outside the stores would have to be sturdy enough to withstand the winter weather.
Swedenborg said the businesses need help now not after the planning department studies the issue for months. One advantage relaxing the short term rental rule has is it would not require months of planning study to change an ordinance.