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Local News: A look at Tuesday’s Astoria City Council Meeting

In a three-and-a-half hour public meeting Tuesday, the Astoria City Council fine tuned their approach to waterfront code changes and sent recommendations back to staff to create a template for more discussion at a later meeting. Joanne Rideout reports:

Script follows, Listen Below [2:45]:


They settled on a 28 foot height limit, with exceptions to 35 feet for businesses that allow public access to view corridors on their property. They also voted to limit chain hotels and restaurants from building in the city.

As councilors, and the mayor, assessed the enormity of possibilities and unintended consequences, the process of formulating new, protective code seemed at times like a complex chess game, with so many obscure rules that no one could predict the outcome of a given move.

Councilors worked to accomplish their aims, and the goals of hundreds of citizens who had sent petitions to the city: to protect the integrity and accessibility of the city’s waterfront, while still allowing businesses to thrive.

After a long discussion, the council approved a motion to send a revised proposal to city staff for later discussion: Mayor Bruce Jones proposed the amendment. Here’s Mayor Jones.

“So I’ll make a motion that we ask staff to come back at the next meeting with revised code amendments reflecting, reflecting 28 foot heights with public access which you will define, stepcak required above 15 feet. A 30,000 square foot building size, a 50 percent lot coverage and 60 foot between buildings on the same site. And approval of language for the planned districts.”

The motion was seconded by councilor Roger Rocka. It passed unanimously.

The council convened in executive session after the public meeting was over around 10:30 pm. On Wednesday morning, Mayor Jones sent an email to media, explaining that after the executive session the council reconvened in public session at around 11:15 pm, to add one thing to their proposal.

“To close the loop on comments I made earlier in last night’s meeting,” Jones said, “I made a motion to direct staff to begin developing code to implement restrictions on formula (national chain) hotels and restaurants within city limits. The motion was seconded and unanimously approved. “

This option to limit certain formula businesses had been discussed by councilors earlier in the evening, but was not incorporated into the motion voted on during the first regular session.

Jones commented in email that he anticipated “extensive discussions to establish the parameters of the restrictions, definitions of formula businesses, etc.”

The intent is, consistent with the Vision Statement we promulgated earlier this year, “Preservation of Astoria’s Unique character,” he said.

The council will discuss this proposed amendment again at their Sept 30 Astoria City Council meeting. I’m Joanne Rideout reporting.