OP/ED: Put the Community back in Community Development

By Andrew Stephens
I just wanted to clarify why I thought it was important to share plans of Fusion Lodging’s new hotel with the community. I am not against development or holding on to the past just for the sake of it. As a community, we felt blindsided by the news of a 25-unit hotel that at full capacity will almost double the population of Oceanside on any given night. There was no prior notification that anything was even in the works. There is one road in and out of Oceanside right now and that’s through Netarts. This will have a huge impact on lots of people beyond just Oceanside. Those cabins are historic, but they also hold a cultural value that is important to many people in this county and those that have been fortunate enough to spend time in Oceanside. You don’t have to own property there to know how special this place is.

It’s alright Fusion Lodging bought the property with the intention to build a new hotel. I have a hard time believing that wasn’t the plan all along, so please don’t feed us lies because you think that’s what we want to hear. I am just asking that you involve the community in your plans, and be honest with your intentions. I’m also asking you to be respectful of these historic cabins and maybe they can find a new home somewhere else. Our community is very fractured over the last few years of politics and Covid. We’re tired of fighting. We would much rather support your new hotel rather than boycott and shame people that stay there. Jerry Keene is a very reasonable person to work with, as is the rest of the Netarts/Oceanside community once you get to know us.

For the Community Development Director, Sarah Absher, I understand that the county is only required to give notice when an actual permit is submitted. There was enough information from the property owners and county to set up a meeting with all of the regulatory agencies that will be involved, and the community should absolutely be a part of that. As the Director, you know very well that once the permit and plans are submitted, it’s a very expensive and time-consuming process to alter those plans. Once it’s built, there is no chance of changing anything. By not including the community early in the process you are effectively taking the community out of Community Development. If the community has any chance of influencing designs, now is the only realistic time it can happen. I want future developers to look back on this project and see how much easier it is to work with the community rather than against it.