By Cara Mico, Assistant Editor
Linda Kozlowski has been on the City Council of Manzanita since 2006 and she’s running for re-election this year for another four year term. I met with her to discuss her platform, what she sees as important for the future of Manzanita, and what she sees coming in the near future for the village.
Kozlowski has a strong background in governance, having served on the City Council for 16 years, as a solid waste committee advisory member and Chair for CART’M, as well as an advising member of DOGAMI.
Her experience on the Council has been overall very positive, “We’ve always gotten along even if we haven’t always agreed, it’s that tension that helps to lead to good governance. Manzanita is at a point in its history where it’s going to need to make significant changes to its infrastructure,” said Kozlowski, highlighting what some have called out of control growth.
In addition to recent growth, one of the most significant changes in her experience on the council has been the increase in public involvement.
“In the beginning the meetings would have maybe five people attending, whereas now we have close to 50, and now that we have meetings on Zoom anyone can give input and contribute regardless of where they are,” something Kozlowski sees as a benefit to the city.
One thing that she’d like to see implemented if re-elected is more in-person meetings that allow for longer discussions and debate. The current meetings are more business oriented and even the work-sessions don’t provide that much time for discussion. She wants to see more outreach so that the council can listen more closely to the people of Manzanita.
“Governing is different from being in a community, it’s different than making decisions for yourself, it’s a slow process,” she added.
One big necessary change that she’s looking forward to working on if re-elected is an update to the City of Manzanita’s Comprehensive Plan.
“A comprehensive plan is a vision for what you want the community to look like, you then take that vision and make it operational with the zoning ordinance that the Planning Commission can implement,” said Kozlowski.
The last time Manzanita updated their Comprehensive Plan was in 1995. That version had an 18-hole Golf Course with a hotel and restaurant. Fast forward to 2022, there is a nine-hole golf course with no hotel or restaurant, and a lot of residential development. An update would need more specifics regarding the use of the area regarding future growth and infrastructure needs.
Kozlowski also emphasized the importance of livability. Workforce housing is a global issue. Manzanita has a high cost of land with low taxes so there’s not much incentive to build affordable housing. For example a $350,000 house would have about $127 in city taxes and $3,500 in county taxes. Any affordable housing project would need to work with Tillamook County to partner and abate some of the property taxes through public private partnership to incentivize affordable housing for the workforce.
A major issue for many residents of Manzanita is the impact of short term rentals on quality of life, an issue that Manzanita has struggled with since it’s implementation.
“Currently 53% of the general fund revenue comes from short-term rentals,” said Kozlowski.
The City Council wants to conduct a thoughtful analysis of what it would look like to change the short-term rental policy, which was implemented about 10 years ago. A community engagement project is currently underway and there are three main recommendations from the results of the surveys.
The first recommendation was to create a standing Short Term Rental policy committee, the second in Manzanita’s history with the first being the Planning Commission. The second recommendation was to look at short term rental density.
“There are streets with 50% short-term rentals and streets with no short-term rentals,” said Kozlowski.
The third recommendation was to hire a full-time code enforcer.
“Most people breaking the rules don’t know what the rules are,” she added.
Kozlowski also discussed the need for a new city hall, which is an ongoing project. The current council is working with Christopher Keane, AIA, Owner and Principal at Bearing Architecture, to develop a plan that may be implemented in 2025.
“Currently, it’s not easy for staff to work together and it’s not easy for the public to access the city council with their questions. When the City Hall was on Laneda it was the heartbeat of the city,” said Kozlowski.
Kozlowski also discussed the importance of water infrastructure. Manzanita and Wheeler share a water treatment facility. The Council is conducting a study on water rates which haven’t been raised in 10 years. The Council also recently finished a study on the viability of the existing water tanks regarding capacity. The good news is that Manzanita has two water sources; deep walls which are the most abundant and least costly to maintain, and surface water. The existing plants can filter the water but the facilities also need upgrades.
“We have significant water storage but we do need an infrastructure upgrade,” added Kozlowski.
She expressed excitement about the next four years and added that she’s really excited about a new team, if she’s reelected.
The Pioneer will follow up after the election. Stay tuned for interviews from other candidates.