Oregon Coast Alliance Newsletter
RVs, Golf Courses and the Fate of a Coastal Town
LUBA Tells Tillamook County RVs Are Not Allowed As Permanent Dwellings   
Currently Unoccupied RV on Rural Land in Tillamook County, July 2017
Tillamook County granted a permit in 2017 via administrative decision to Chris and Evan Orlando to live in their recreation vehicle as a permanent dwelling, on a 6.4-acre parcel of land they own zoned Small Farm Woodlot-10. Concerned local residents appealed the administrative decision to the planning commission, which held a hearing in summer 2017. They upheld the Planning Director's decision. But ORCA appealed the case to the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA). Both state law and Tillamook County ordinances are very clear: RVs are travel vehicles, not permanent homes. LUBA reversed the county's decision, and barred them from allowing RVs as permanent dwellings outside mobile home parks in future. LUBA only reverses when the local government action is prohibited as a matter of law.

County ordinances allowed RVs in the SFW-10 zone, with a conditional use permit. But RVs are defined in County ordinance LUO 11.030 as a "portable temporary dwelling unit...which is intended for vacation, emergency or recreational use, but not for permanent residential use, unless located in a recreational vehicle or mobile/manufactured dwelling park." In other words, the RV use is for temporary purposes only. 

This is a big win for the public health and safety. Tillamook County, like most coastal counties, has little code enforcement. An RV parked on a rural parcel of land is most unlikely to be inspected for proper use of water, proper wastewater management or provision of electricity. An RV owner could - and the Orlandos did, at a prior Tillamook County property - simply stick a hose in a creek for water. It is expensive to have an RV's wastewater pumped, and it could easily happen that RV dwellers outside a mobile home park simply dump wastewater on the ground or in a stream. People need access to water, electricity, wastewater services and normal amenities. The public health of both rural dwellers and water quality in rural areas needs to be protected. This ruling is a big step towards ensuring that happens in Tillamook County in the future.

Curry County Ignores the Knapp Ranch Golf Course Expired Permit
Elk River Valley. Area Proposed for Knapp Ranch Golf Course Lower Right Center. Courtesy ORCA

Elk River Property Development requested a permit from Curry County for a pipeline to carry effluent from the City of Port Orford to the proposed golf course at Knapp Ranch. During the hearings process in Fall 2017, planning commission members discovered that ERPD's permit for the golf course, issued by the Board of Commissioners, expired. The permit required the applicants to apply for and receive a time extension within one year - by January 2016. They never did so, and the permit expired on its own terms two years ago. The planning commission therefore denied the ERPD pipeline application.

Fast forward to February 2018. The applicants appealed to the Board of Commissioners. Unsurprisingly, they granted ERPD the permit for the pipeline. But it was very surprising indeed to hear the Curry County Planning Director, Carolyn Johnson, state openly that ERPD did not need a time extension. BOC decided simply to ignore the condition,  trying to keep the original permit  valid by fiat. But the law does not work like this; it has rules that must be followed.

The applicants argue the permit is valid because Curry County ordinances under some circumstances allow 'substantial construction' on the project to stand in for getting a time extension. However, the County ordinance (CCZO 7.050.4) also allows the Director or Commission at its discretion to issue conditional use permits which must be periodically reviewed to make sure the permit conditions are being complied with. Using this provision, the BOC-approved permit required a time extension in one year, which the applicants failed to get. That is the project's death knell - unless they apply for a new permit.

But let's look at the applicant's argument - did they initiate development before the permit expired? ERPD argues that clearing part of the land of gorse, for which they spent approximately $16,500, and sinking two wells costing about $12,000, both in 2015, constitutes 'starting development.' This is very questionable. 

The 2015  golf course permit required the applicant to submit a wetland delineation report to the Department of State Lands for review and approval. The applicants never submitted one. DSL regulations warn applicants that if they begin work in wetlands without a permit, the landowner may be subject to enforcement action. It is very likely that in the gorse-clearing activities, ERPD violated this regulation. 

So what does this all mean? It all means that BOC approved an effluent pipeline based on an invalid permit, and gave the developers a green light which the law does not in fact allow them. This invalid permit problem will crop up again and again if ERPD continues to try and get other necessary permits to continue the long-expired project.

Continued and Rescheduled Hearings in Cannon 
Beach and Pacific City
North Cannon Beach Dunes in Very High Tide, January 18, 2018. Courtesy ORCA

Cannon Beach:

The city began its hearings on dune-grading policies, but continued the most recent late-February hearing to the March 2018 planning commission hearing due to ice and snow, and the need to finalize the draft sand study on which the proposed policy changes are based.

The new hearing date will be  March 22 at 6:00 PM in Cannon Beach City Hall Council Chambers.  Please send testimony to City Planner Mark Barnes  

Cannon Beach residents are wrestling with how much, if any, dune-grading for view enhancement should be allowed in the future. At hearings one often gets the impression that such dune-grading is mandatory. But in fact, the Beaches and Dunes Goal of the land use system only allows view grading if a community decides to allow it, and only with conditions, including careful planning. Homeowners do not, and never have had, a right to grade the publicly-owned beaches to enhance their views.

Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area Near Pacific City. Courtesy Matvyei (Wikimedia)

Pacific City:

The initial February hearings on the Pacific City Community Plan and zoning changes were cancelled. The Tillamook County planning commission will now hold its initial hearing on April 12 at 7:00 PM in Kiawanda Community Center, followed by two Board of Commissioner hearings in May. The most recent version of the documents is here 

Pacific City residents need to decide whether they want to continue allowing the town to be shaped by high-octane development strategies of the Nestucca Ridge family of companies, or set their vision and zoning ordinances to restrain growth and continue the town's traditions as a small, affordable oceanside vacation and fishing town. At a recent meeting of the Citizens' Advisory Committee, the proposed  development-oriented changes were resoundingly voted down. Pacific City residents are beginning to be heard. Please send testimony to Barrett Chaix

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