With years of experience as a public employee and former city councilor, Mayor Susan Wahlke took her oath of office via Zoom on June 14. She attended her first in-person meeting as mayor on July 12.
“At my first meeting (as mayor), we adopted the budget, but I had been on all the calls on Zoom when it was discussed,” she said. “So I was up to speed.”
In the near future, Wahlke is looking to schedule a workshop to discuss revenue sources. She said long term financing is a big challenge for the city.
“It’s hard for a population of 9,000 to provide for 30,000 people,” she said.
“We’re still struggling with homelessness and housing, and we’re definitely trying to have houses for people,” she said. “I mean, are there vacant lots, but not all are build-able.”
She said attracting developers with realistic plans to the Villages at Sitka Woods, formerly named the Villages at Cascade Head, was high on her list of priorities.
“By selling it off in pieces, we can be more sure that the development will come to fruition,” she said. “So we are really looking for a developer.”
She said there are currently four hotels in Lincoln City housing people who have no other permanent lodging, but the city does not own any of them.
Also on her list of goals, Wahlke said she would like to have more public input at public meetings.
“I’d like to try to increase that. I think most of that is communicating with people and letting them know what’s coming up on the agenda, and making sure that groups who are affected by things we’re considering, are aware,” she said. “I am disappointed that our current technology doesn’t allow us to have a hybrid meeting. There are some upgrades to the technology in the council chambers that may allow that in the future.”
As far as the last meeting, she said she thought it was important that they continued the closure of the vehicle access to the beach.
The council had previously closed vehicle access to the beach at NW 15th St. and 34th Ct., prompted by an influx of cars on the beach and cars getting stuck.
“We had what I’m told around 200 cars on the beach,” she said. “It became a safety issue and there wasn’t any room for emergency vehicles to get through if there had been someone needing help in the water.”
Both accesses will continue to be blocked to vehicles through Labor Day.
She said she understands that people with mobility issues prefer the vehicle access, and in the off-season that would not likely present a safety hazard. But as there was too much use, it became an issue. She said there are other access areas available as well as the beach wheelchair.