Oregon Coast Alliance Newsletter

  Where Coastal Development Should Not Be Allowed: Three Stories

Curry County Board of Commissioners Allows STRs Countywide!

Manzanita Lofts Decision Appealed to LUBA

Clatsop County Tries to Allow the Smith Road — Again
Curry County Board of Commissioners Allows STRs Countywide!
Moon over Humbug Mountain. Courtesy ORCA
The Curry County Board of Commissioners made short work of approving a major ordinance revision that will allow short term rentals (STRs) countywide in all rural residential and commercial zones, including the ones that apply specifically to lands inside the urban growth boundaries of the towns of Port Orford, Gold Beach and Brookings. Despite quite a bit of participation at the hearing by concerned county residents, the Board asked few questions and voted the package through unanimously.

As Oregon Coast Alliance pointed out to the Board, this is the worst possible time for the county to make such sweeping changes in favor of STRs: since the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) struck down the Lincoln County ordinance banning STRs in rural areas, the county and ballot measure organizers are working through their options, and their decisions will affect the rest of the coast. In addition, Curry County is going in exactly the opposite direction of the rest of the country, where frantic local governments are trying to regulate STRs before they destroy neighborhoods and communities. The Board of Commissioners has not listened at all to the pleas of residents to protect their neighborhoods from this threat. Nor have there been discussions with Port Orford, or the county’s other towns, about coordination with them for lands inside UGBs, where coordination is legally mandated.

Curry County has refused to discuss two other significant problems: the lack of water and sewer/septic capacity for rural STRs, and the large problem of STRs illegally operating on resource lands, where under state law they are not allowed. How is Curry County going to end these rentals, which are perhaps half or so of all the STRs countywide?

The Board is set to give final approval to the package in early September.
Manzanita Lofts Decision Appealed to LUBA
Neahkahnie Mountain North of Manzanita. Courtesy Wikimedia
The applicant for the Manzanita Lofts “hotel” complex has appealed the Manzanita City Council decision to the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA). Apparently a unanimous decision of denial from first the city’s planning commission, and then the City Council, were not enough to indicate to the applicant that there might be some problems with the application. Extreme vagueness, superficial traffic analysis, failure to provide information — including a wetland delineation — required by city ordinances, failure to provide a conditional use application for at least part of the application that clearly required one, were among the many lapses of this applicant.

Even if a use is an outright use, an applicant is not thereby excused from following the requirements for the application itself and critically important consultant reports, so decision-makers can evaluate the proposal in accordance with governing law.

In the aftermath of this application ORCA reminds Manzanita, once again, that the city ordinances do not define the word “hotel.” This is one of the ways the applicant was able to slip something as completely absurd as a large, commercial, multi-building, complex into a quiet residential area. A coastal town should certainly define “hotel” in its ordinances, since there is likely to be more than one such enterprise in the community. Having a solid, workable definition makes it clear to everyone what a hotel is, and also helps clarify where such a structure does, and does not, belong.
Clatsop County Tries to Allow the Smith Road — Again
Arch Cape Wetlands. Courtesy ORCA
In a very complicated case that has already seen many twists and turns, Clatsop County once again approved a conditional use permit to allow construction of a segment of the Anvil Rock Road public right of way in Arch Cape, along with installing water, sewer and electric lines to service the lot. The case went through a Clatsop County hearings officer, and then the Board of Commissioners; their decision to allow the road was appealed to the Land Use Board of Appeals by ORCA, the Arch Cape Community Club and neighbors. LUBA remanded for further findings on wetland impacts and seasonal flooding issues.

Why all the fuss for a tiny road extension? This area contains wetlands, and the applicants (Smith) propose to build a road extension to a vacant property, whose owners have no plans on file or any current proposal to develop the parcel. This would, in other words, be a speculative road, in a wetland area. The county’s interpretation of LUBA’s request was not to provide further information on wetlands, but simply to say that if the wetland is not included in the county’s Goal 5 inventories, it doesn't count. The problem? The significant wetland complex in Arch Cape at issue here is not included in the county inventory. Neither are other Arch Cape wetlands, as the county’s inventory has not been updated for forty years! Arch Cape and Cove Beach recently did their own local wetland inventory to solve this problem, but the county has thus far refused to adopt it, despite many requests.

Clatsop County wants to allow speculative roads and other development in Arch Cape’s wetland areas, which are often subject to seasonal flooding, and interprets their code to permit this. In their legal Findings on this LUBA remand, the county boldly says, “The Board specifically rejects any interpretation of [Clatsop land use ordinances] that automatically disqualifies a property for any and all development because of the presence of delineated wetlands and/or associated flooding that may occur in relation to that wetland.”

That says it all. ORCA and co-appellants have taken the case back to LUBA a second time.
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