Oregon Coast Alliance Newsletter
Coastal Decision-making Hits New Lows
Poor Coastal Decisions in the Legislature and Clatsop County
Oregon State Capitol. Courtesy M.O. Stevens 
The coast has just been the victim of three very bad decisions, all of which show the ongoing problems of special interest legislation and  unresponsive  local officials.

The Legislature passed two pieces of special interest legislation that ORCA strongly opposed. The first, HB 2730 A, amends the laws relating to nonfarm uses on exclusive farm use lands to allow the proposed Knapp Ranch golf course north of Port Orford in Curry County to expand or reconfigure. Golf courses are allowed on exclusive farm use (EFU) lands if certain criteria are met, but they are not allowed on high value farmland, which is more restrictively protected.  Now the Knapp Ranch proposal, which partly contains high value farmland, will be able to site the golf course in an area previously prohibited.

HB 2031A allows the developer of a resort originally slated for the Metolius basin to extend his deadline for siting it elsewhere.  Clatsop County is one of the named counties where the resort may be sited. HB 2031A removes the prohibition for siting a resort on lands protected as Coastal Shorelands. Worse yet, it also removes a prohibition on siting the resort in natural hazard areas identified in the  Comprehensive Plan. 

Both these bills, which are now new laws, show open favoritism to special interests, which is very bad legislative policy.  However, neither mandate the reconfiguring of a golf course in Curry County or building of a resort in Clatsop County. The applicants will have to apply and go through the required planning processes. ORCA will be there, participating in the applications, battling for the ecological integrity of the lands, and (in the case of Knapp Ranch golf course proposal) for working farmlands to remain as such.

Clatsop County also for the third time dissolved the Southwest Coastal Citizen Advisory Committee (SWCCAC). As Commissioner Sullivan noted at the Board of Commissioners hearing, this decision was wrong: it made it clear to south County residents that their voices, opinions and desires for their communities' futures do not matter. The Board of Commissioners does not wish to listen to Arch Cape and south county, for reasons the Commission refused to even discuss, much less negotiate. ORCA and affected residents will continue through other channels to ensure that the County's refusal to listen to residents does not affect the livability of the area,  and ensure  the County follows all land use procedures as required by law.

It Used to be Arcadia State Recreation Site-- 
 an RV Park?   
Arcadia Beach Sunset. Courtesy OPRD
Arcadia State Recreation Site is just off Highway 101 in Arch Cape. It is a small (eight-acre) but lovely part of the state park system, with a beach stretched between two headlands, Hug Point and Humbug Point. Once the Parks and Recreation Department also owned about eighteen acres of      land on the east side of Highway  101. But  OPRD did not have any plans for the land and did not think it fit in well with  the rest of  Arcadia -- so they transferred it to a Clatsop County landowner, James Smejkal, in 2002. Since that time, Mr. Smejkal has tried several ways to make money. In 2009 he proposed a zone change to a  2-acre rural  residential zone, which would have removed the parcel's Agriculture Forestry and Recreation Management zoning. The Department of Land Conservation and Development opposed the  rezone, and  Clatsop County ultimately denied Smejkal's application.

Now the owner is proposing a timber-cutting and brush-clearing  project.  The maps submitted with the harvest plan show the activities taking place on  an oddly road-shaped  grid  pattern.  This is clearly not timber  activity  for forestry purposes. Investigation by local residents showed the reason: Mr Smejkal's agent in March 2017 applied to the Department of Transportation for a "state highway approach" for a 58-unit RV park plus a caretaker/manager structure. In a memo to the Clatsop County Community Development Department, the agent elaborated that the hillside portion of the land will be for the RV park, and one tax lot will be excluded, to be used "as the drain field for a private sewer system serving the RV park." 

Mr.  Smejkal has not applied for an RV park to Clatsop County. If he  does, it  will become clear that although an RV park is an allowed conditional use on Recreation Management land, it is not permitted at all on Agriculture Forest lands. There are many unanswered questions as well: how will the Threatened marbled murrelet  nesting habitat  on the land be protected? How will sanitation be handled in a very rural area far  from sewer  facilities? ORCA believes this property should be purchased and  returned  to the public's ownership, as it once was. It fits with Arcadia Recreation Site, and is not suitable for development as an RV park, housing -- or clearcutting.

Tale of Two Dams in Curry County  
Floras Lake Log Weir 2009. Courtesy DSL      
Two problematic dams in Curry County are getting renewed attention these days.

Floras Lake Dam, illegally built by Curry County in summer of 2016,  is still unresolved.  The legal case the County filed against the Department of State Lands was dismissed by Curry County Circuit Court in mid-June. The County still wants to find a way to avoid complying with DSL's removal-fill laws. DSL notified them that if they built a small log weir consisting of a single log less than twelve inches, sitting on the creek bed, held in place by log segments and ballast boulders on the creek edge, they would be exempt from removal-fill laws.  Curry County appears to have decided not to apply for a water storage permit from the Water Resources Department, as the weir would not actually store water if built. But if the weir would be a fish passage barrier, the County will have to abide by state and federal salmon protection laws.

Ferry Creek Dam was built on Ferry Creek in the 1960s as an alternate water source for the City of Brookings. It was never much used, and the dam has just been sitting there, blocking Ferry Creek, for decades. The dam itself does not harm salmon habitat, as the creek has a steep  gradient; but  it does impact salmon habitat on the lower reaches, as do culvert and drainage  further down  where the creek runs through the Mahar Tribble property (slated for development) before emptying into the Chetco.

In 2015,  a  Water Resources Department inspection rated it a High hazard dam, which triggered Brookings' need to make decisions about the dam's future. The City applied for a $72,500 grant  from  WRD for a feasibility  study, and  received the grant in June 2017. The City must match the grant funds. The feasibility study will evaluate whether to remove the dam and restore the area, repair the dam to current standards, or remove and replace the dam to current standards. ORCA will be advocating for the sensible solution, to remove the useless dam and restore the creek. Best would be a larger project that would also restore the channelized lower creek for the benefit of salmon and water quality.

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Contact Information
Contact Executive Director Cameron La Follette by  email
or phone: 503-391-0210
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