For 2017, we asked local mayors Jay Barber of Seaside, Matt Brown of Gearhart, Sam Steidel of Cannon Beach and Clatsop County Manager Cameron Moore what the biggest challenge facing their areas will be in the coming year.

“We have a City Council that works well together and gets things done. One of the significant challenges will be swearing in two new councilors in the new year, one newly elected and one that the council will appoint to fill the now vacant councilor seat from Ward 1 and getting them on board and working well with the other four councilors and the mayor.

“With the approval of the bond issue for the Seaside School District, it will be incumbent upon the Planning Commission and the council to address the expansion of the urban growth boundary in the new year to bring the new campus into the city and work to provide proper access to the new location.

“Affordable housing in Clatsop County is a major issue that all cities and the county will need to work together to provide workable solutions.

“This is an issue that will require input from the county, cities, local businesses, developers and concerned citizens. We can learn from other cities and regions where workable solutions are being implemented. This issue is rising to the top of my concerns.

“Tsunami preparedness continues to be a major issue of significant importance. The highest priority is to seek funding for the retrofitting of all of our bridges to assist citizens to be able to move to safe ground in the case of a major incident.

“In addition we need to continue our thinking about resilience. How will we continue to be a city in the case of a major earthquake and tsunami?

“Finally, annexation to the south of the city to address blight, vacant and sub-standard housing as well as the need to address access to city water and sewerage.”

“As you know Gearhart has gone through a handful of contentious issues the last few years, so I hope 2017 brings a sense of calmness and cooperation, working together with our citizens and other cities in Clatsop County to solve common problems, such as affordable housing.

I’m looking forward to having work sessions with our fellow councilors in the months to come to work on strategic planning for the next four years and prioritizing what is important to our residents. I hope this includes working on a new fire station plan, emergency preparedness and a transportation master plan.

“Also, looking forward to working with city staff to find better ways to communicate with our citizens including building a new city of Gearhart interactive website, scheduling town hall meetings and getting folks more involved in the process and decision making.

“It’s great to work with our amazing city staff and department heads and I look forward to a very positive and constructive 2017 for Gearhart!”

Mayor Sam Steidel, Cannon Beach said the biggest challenge the city will face in 2017 is looking at how various projects might affect one another.

“My concern is that as a council we have a comprehensive view of all the problems so they can interact as they need to be. I have a feeling we do not have a lot of big problems, but lots of projects that intertwine a little.

The council will have a goal-setting session early this year to reach a consensus on city priorities, using the city’s strategic plan as a guide.

Steidel said his personal areas of focus include seeing how the former Cannon Beach Elementary property could be used and expanding NeCus Park.

Steidel’s longer-term goal is for the council to work on developing the city-owned South Wind property. The 58 acres located east of U.S. Highway 101, largely outside of the tsunami zone, needs infrastructure in place before it can be the site of the city’s essential services, such as an emergency shelter, school and police and fire stations.

Steidel said he hopes to get discussion about city priorities done before the spring budgeting process, when things tend to get “bogged down.”

“I’m looking forward to some energy from the council, and new voices always bring that.”Clatsop County Manager Cameron Moore

Some of the challenges of the coming year are as yet unknown, Clatsop County Manager Cameron Moore said. “It’s quite possible the biggest challenge we don’t know yet. Things happen during the course of the year.”

Internally, a new compensation system is on the county road map.

“We have been working for a couple years on revamping our compensation system for county employees, so we’re anticipating that 2017 will be the year that we implement that new structure, which again, doesn’t affect the taxpayers or anything,” he said. “But anytime you make significant changes to your compensation structure, there’s a few challenges that go along with that.

Externally, there are two challenges on the horizon. “One is, in 2017, we will be doing a review of the county charter, which is the county government. It opens up county government to potentially discuss either small or significant changes to the structure of county government,” Moore said. “We don’t know where that’s going to go yet, but obviously that’s very important. It’s something we only do once every 10 years. I would say that, probably, you know, certainly is very important. How challenging it will be, we don’t know yet.”

Secondly, the commissioners need to make a decision on the Linn County timber lawsuit. “But regardless of which decision they make, we are anticipating that 2017 — maybe all year, I don’t know — but this will be the discovery part of that trial,” Moore said. “What that means for us is, is whether we’re in the lawsuit or whether we’re out of the lawsuit, we’re probably going to have to commit significant county staff time and significant resources to responding to requests for years of data about timber sales and timber revenues. And we don’t know how much demand that will place on county resources, but it could be significant.”

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