I am eagerly awaiting the recommendations from the Clatsop County Housing Study which the City is helping fund. In the meantime, City Council has asked staff to prepare a proposal for considering a Construction Excise Tax whose proceeds would be used to support affordable housing projects. This approach has been used successfully elsewhere (e.g. Bend). Finally, we need greater flexibility in our codes regarding minimum parking requirements, lots sizes, and setbacks. Unfortunately each of these proven tools usually provokes resistance from some. The truth is that there are no easy solutions that everyone will like; tough choices are required.
Homelessness has proven to be a nearly intractable issue. There are such a wide variety of underlying reasons people find themselves “unhomed” – in some cases addiction, mental health, physical health, the economy, difficulty finding work due to a variety of issues – a different set of solutions or mitigations must be explored in each case. As Mayor I will become a member of the Homelessness Solutions Task Force and I will study what other communities have tried. I have visited the Astoria Warming Center and attended a Board meeting and listened to the concerns of their Board. They are providing a very necessary service and are to be applauded for serving as a last resort for people with no other options.
A Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake, and tsunami, are inevitable. It will happen. No matter how well prepared a community is for a disaster, the best case scenario is that we are all going to be enduring a tremendous amount of hardship and loss for a very long time. The worst case scenario is that many of our neighbors will die, and many of the survivors won’t have food or water or shelter, and it will be winter, and people will die awaiting help.
The responsibility to prepare well enough that we have a best case scenario is shared among all of us individually and collectively. Individuals, local government, schools, employers, hospitals, agencies. As Mayor I will increase preparedness efforts. I want to seriously study the possibility of locating a command post on top of the hill. We should look at obtaining critical supplies, such as water filters, ahead of a disaster.
My thoughts on disaster preparedness and response are shaped by my experience commanding Coast Guard aviation forces in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina, and also serving as an Incident Commander on later incidents. It would be useful to have a Mayor with extensive disaster experience and familiarity with the federal disaster response system.
The following PBS documentary demonstrates my experience and ability to lead in a catastrophe like that we'll face after an earthquake.
Astor Public Library Renovation: I strongly support the Library Foundation’s fundraising efforts to achieve a complete renovation and modernization of our library. 50 years old, it is time to give our children, grandchildren and neighbors a library which will meet all of our needs for another 50 years.
Inadequate day care capacity is preventing many Astorians from finding suitable work, and preventing many young parents from working at all. It is a critical need and the City can shine a spotlight until solutions are found.
Other Daily Astorian articles on Fiscal Sustainability: