Mark Goes Beyond Workforce Housing

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I’m Mark Kuestner and I’m running for Manzanita City Council.

I had a wide-ranging phone discussion with the Mayor of Yachats, Leslie Vaaler, a few weeks ago about issues facing small coastal communities like Manzanita. One of the issues she mentioned was the existence of people without homes in Yachats. She estimated there are probably fewer than thirty unhoused individuals in Yachats, some of whom work in local businesses but have to sleep in their vehicles. Many are passing through on highway 101 and stop off along the way. Yachats has a Food Pantry to help with food and some community members want to use city resources to help those without homes. Others in the community don’t want to use city funds in this way, fearing that the presence of those without homes might “ruin the city”.

Yachats has run into ordinance issues in trying to provide warming shelters for those without homes. For example, they’ve used an open-sided picnic area to provide temporary shelter for people in the past, but their fire marshal said they would have to invest in significant upgrades to the facility if they wanted to create a weather-proof structure for future use.

There are people without homes in the Manzanita area as well.

Many of these folks are hidden in plain sight, some living out of vehicles, which they move around between day and night. Our forested lands also provide areas where those without homes live “off-grid” and out of sight of many local residents.

Giving homeless people bus tickets is probably the most common method of dealing with this social issue. In a more recent meeting I had with Manzanita Police Chief Eric Harth the subject of people without homes came up in light of recent Oregon legislation which may make it illegal to force individuals to leave a public area if the municipality they’re in doesn’t have a designated area to direct them to (See Oregon HB 3115, Oregon HB 3124 and Federal Rulings).

Smaller communities have a much more difficult time coping with the financial and space needs this issue brings up than do many larger cities.

This is just one of the issues the new Manzanita City Council will need to focus on in tandem with other agencies in the Nehalem Bay area and Tillamook County.

I hope to earn one of your votes for the two open City Council positions so we can find dignified solutions to address this crisis in housing, for the homeless, for workers, for all.

Please visit my website to learn more: