It is with great pleasure that we should applaud the many candidates who are seeking elected office. There are two major issues for candidates to get their arms around. First, by any measure, is the area’s preparedness for a Cascadia event. With FEMA projections of several thousand area deaths, most of them in Seaside, Warrenton, and Gearhart, elected leaders should start to discuss midtown tsunami escape shelters. While evacuation maps draw escape routes, none of them point out that evacuation into the hills is just not physically possible for most by foot. Unless they are an Olympic sprinter, the time available between the earthquake and the tsunami is not sufficient for many residents and visitors. State, county, and city governments seem to be aware that many existing bridges will be destroyed by the earthquake, rendering many of the designated escape routes unfeasible, but instead, spend their time and treasure on planning new rec centers, better jails, and bigger convention centers. There appears to be little appetite for planning for the period after a Cascadia event by any agency of government. “Well I survived and I still have a house,” but Pacific Power is three to six months away from providing you any power. Welcome to Puerto Rico West.
The second major issue is affordable housing. The North Coast has been the beneficiary of the growth that has taken place in the northwest and therefore the increased demand for beach recreation. Many say that there are plenty of jobs in that sector but tourist industry jobs can be seasonal. Industrial developers, who could provide a more stable job base for the area, have gotten the message that our local government and institutions are programmed to tune out anything that looks like growth, change, or family wage jobs. Hopefully these elections will start to make a positive difference in these attitudes.
There would not be a workforce housing issue if local tourist businesses would reach out to our senior community to fill its need for seasonal help. Many seniors need extra income and are experienced reliable assets who already have housing. CEDR, instead of crying the “sky is falling,” should develop business training on how best for businesses to solve its own personnel problems and not rely on government to subsidize its needs. If you are a young person how can you pay a mortgage or a rent payment unless you have a steady job? How can you afford inflated housing property taxes when the Seaside School District unnecessarily spends $100,000 per student for school facilities when the rest of the State is spending $40,000? How can you afford a house or apartment when construction labor costs on the north coast are 50 percent higher than in other rural areas of the State? How can you afford to pay for a house if it can’t be built on affordable, properly zoned property because the neighbors complain it will create “unbearable” traffic increases? How can you build affordable housing when the bulk of suitable underdeveloped property is zoned for commercial use and is sitting idle because of consumer purchasing changes made by the internet? How can government provide a safe community with a more efficient cost-effective structure for its police and fire?
The list goes on and can only be solved by electing better leadership.