Cannon Beach City Council finalized its historic vote in March: grading the foredunes for view maintenance is
officially banned. The city passed a new ordinance to clarify dune activities. Maintenance and remedial grading are both allowed, and specifically defined. But view grading is no longer permitted. If the
build up so that beachfront owners do not have a view of the ocean, that is Nature's way, shifting currents and
in the littoral cell.
will do as visitors and other residents do to see the beach and ocean: walk there. It is important to remember that the dunes in question are publicly-owned, managed by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, not people's private property. The dunes belong to all Oregonians. This fact occasionally gets lost in the rhetoric.
Cannon Beach decided to experiment with view-grading for dunes in the late 1990s at the request of Breakers Point Homeowners Association, a condominium complex
the north edge of Ecola Creek. Breakers Point wrote the required sand management plan, which was adopted into the city's comprehensive plan. But over the years dune-grading requests for views multiplied and expanded, involving also the condos on the Presidential Streets, and even Chapman Point. When residents of Chapman Point tried to get permission to grade the public dunes outside their houses, the city and concerned residents reminded them that there is a deed restriction that says bluntly, "Foredune grading for view enhancement shall be prohibited."
It became clear to city officials over the years that dune-grading for view was a highly contentious, never-ending cycle of expanding requests, public opposition, drawn out public hearings, appeals, litigation threats and backlash against graded areas, which marred Cannon Beach's celebrated coastal beauty. As climate change began to take its toll, it also became clear the dunes were essential in protecting the city from storm surges and king tides - especially when they came in combination.
The city paid for the Department of Geology and Mineral Industries to conduct a new and comprehensive study of sand movement in the littoral cell. Then officials began hearings on whether or not to end view grading after a 22-year experiment with it. And, exercising leadership and foresight, Cannon Beach City council - after extensive public process, which garnered passionate local involvement - voted unanimously to end view grading. Oregon Coast Alliance salutes the City Council, which had the courage to exercise political leadership, instead of bowing to the private desires of a few.