The election to fill the vacancy in city council ward 1 will be on September 21, and now, the council will need to fill another vacancy in ward 2, left by Anne Marie Skinner, who has been hired as the city’s Director of Planning and Community Development.
Skinner grew up in Idaho and her father was a licensed land surveyor who owned his own business. She said she’d go out with her dad and that’s where she gained and interest and learned. After she graduated from college in Utah, she started working for her father as a planner.
“I worked for him and then another engineering company before I went to work for the City of Caldwell, Idaho,” she said. “I was there for almost eight years, until 2013 And that’s when I moved to Oregon.”
She wanted to move out of Idaho, and she looked for a place with less sun, more rain and more clouds. Initially, she was in the Portland Metro where she worked for Washington County as a planner for almost a year and then moved back into a position in the private sector.
Not wanting to retire in that area, she and her husband started looking for a place on the Oregon Coast and eventually purchased a lot in Lincoln City and built their home. At that same time, the senior planner position opened in Lincoln City.
She was hired as the senior planner and when the director left, she was promoted. During that time, she worked on fine tuning the ordinances, which have now all been adopted.
But her previous employer kept asking her to come back, and on the fourth time, she agreed. That was also influenced by her desire to be on city council. She took the job, ran for council and won the election.
“I loved being on city council,” she said.
With 24 years of experience in planning under her belt, she continued to watch the planning department and the “tumultuous” year since she left. When the position officially came open again last month, she applied.
“I just thought, the planning department really, really needs me and I think they need me more than City Council does,” she said. “I applied and was selected. So here I am.”
She said she has already started working on design review standards and the sign ordinance, which will all have to go to the council to be adopted. Her more immediate goals will include looking at the processes in the department and, if needed, streamline them and put standard operating procedures into place. She said the applications need to be revised and updated to be more user friendly and more self-explanatory.
“The average person isn’t a planner and doesn’t work with this stuff all the time. They look at the code and it’s all Greek,” she said. “It’s my goal to make it as easy and smooth as possible for everyone to help get development, and if someone wants to build a house, let’s make it as easy as possible, and take out as many road roadblocks as I can.
In the long term, the comprehensive plan needs work, she said.
“I believe my predecessor, attempted to do some things with the Comprehensive Plan, which needs to be updated,” she said. “But the most important thing about the comprehensive plan is complying with the goal number one of the state land use planning goals and goal number one is citizen involvement.”
With the need for citizen input, they will need some public workshops and possibly surveys. She said getting input while meetings are all still being held on Zoom would be difficult.
“My plan with the comprehensive plan is to hold off for a few months and see what happens with the pandemic,” she said. If it continues into next year, then I’m going to have to do public workshops via zoom. It’s not ideal at all, but I know that there are citizens anxious for it to get going and provide their comments, so I don’t want to put them off too long.”
Once the comprehensive plan gets updated, she said there will likely be portions of the zoning ordinance that will also have to be updated to match the new goals that are in the comprehensive plan.
“It’s kind of like the foundation and the structure of the house, and then the zoning ordinance is all the guts and the finish and the wiring and the plumbing,” she said. “So all the ordinances come from the comprehensive plan … all the goals that are in the comprehensive plan. Those aren’t rules, those are goals. And then the zoning ordinance develops the rules that will put those goals into effect.”