Oregon Coast Alliance Newsletter
What Will the Future Be in These Three Coastal Places?
ERPD Hopes to Have Curry County Ignore their Expired Permit   
Cape Blanco Lighthouse North of Knapp Ranch
Elk River Property Development is still hoping to move ahead on their proposed golf course, despite the fact that their Curry County permit expired in January 2016 - two years ago - because ERPD failed to get the required time extension.The Curry County Planning Commission  in December  denied  ERPD's effluent pipeline request because the golf course permit had expired. The  statute on reclaimed water reuse on farmland requires an actual, specific project. At this point ERPD has only a proposed golf course, unless and until they reapply to the County for another conditional use permit.

ERPD appealed the Planning Commission denial to the Board of Commissioners, and the hearings are ongoing.  One of the issues the Commissioners must  grapple with is that BOC itself put the condition on the original permit requiring a time extension after one year. If BOC now  holds that the  permit is somehow still valid, they will signal that permit conditions are irrelevant, don't have to be followed, and can be turned aside whenever the developers find them inconvenient.  This would be exceedingly bad policy, and questionable legally, to say the least.

Cannon Beach Hearing on Dune-Grading Policy: Thursday, January 25th
North Cannon Beach Dunes in Very High Tide, January 18, 2018. Courtesy ORCA
Cannon Beach is beginning its hearings on dune-grading policy on Thursday, January 25th at 6:00 PM in City Hall Council Chambers before the Cannon Beach Planning Commission. The packet of materials can be found here.

The City paid for a new sand study, so for the first time Cannon Beach residents know how sand moves in the littoral cell. They then paid the Columbia River Estuary Task Force (CREST) to write a  draft  dune management plan. These hearings will consider new Comprehensive Plan language and new ordinance governing dune-grading,especially (and most controversially) for view enhancement.

Last week the coast witnessed king tides and strong tidal surges, leading to some of the highest tides seen for many years. Pictures, such as the one above, show how extremely important the dunes at the north end of Cannon Beach are to protecting homes and other buildings. Other parts of Cannon Beach without dune protection experienced some flooding. It is important to remember that the foredunes are wildlife habitat, are owned by the people of the state (not Breakers Point or other owners), and should thus be managed primarily for public purposes. But most urgently, the Cannon Beach dunes protect the town, its buildings and its residents. ORCA will be stressing these points in testimony to the Planning Commission.

Breakers Point, on the other hand, has proposed that the City place no cap on the allowed amount of dune-grading for view enhancement, and that dune-grading permits be valid for ten years. They make a similar proposal for maintenance grading. All of these suggestions would take Cannon Beach in exactly the wrong direction. Dunes are highly important for defense against the sea, and once eroded they can take a decade or more to recover. If dune-grading for view enhancement is allowed at all, it must be only with careful scrutiny, frequent monitoring, and swift revision of allowed amounts as needed to maintain the paramount goal: protection of the dunes.

Pacific City Hearings on the Community's Future: Thursday, February 15th
Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area Near Pacific City. Courtesy Matvyei (Wikimedia)
Pacific City, in Tillamook County, is updating its Comprehensive Plan and the related ordinances. The Tillamook County Planning Commission hearing will be held:

Thursday, February 15th
7:00 PM
Kiawanda Community Center
346000 Cape Kiwanda Drive,  Pacific City

The packet of materials  on the most recent updated version of the Pacific City Plan and ordinances is available  here.

The staff report will be available by February 8th. Please send testimony to Barrett Chaix at the Community Development Department. The current proposals are causing great controversy in Pacific City. According to the County materials, the community has up to 803 vacant lots, including potential subdivisions, that could be developed. If they all were developed in a ten year period, it would create a grossly unsustainable 63% growth rate for this tiny hamlet. The community, not being an incorporated town, relies on Tillamook County for its principal infrastructure such as roads, parking and beach access. Sewer and water is provided by the Pacific City Joint Water-Sanitary Authority (PCJWSA).

Unfortunately, the new proposals accommodate rather than rein in the longstanding focus on maximum growth fueled principally by the Nestucca Ridge family of companies and their allies. These developers have built up the beachfront area around Pelican Pub so intensively with commercial, lodging and residential development that parking is a constant problem, overcrowding is common, the beach is overused, and Cape Kiwanda State  Natural Area,  which is directly adjacent, is suffering from overuse and a recent spate of fatalities  - six people, average age 19 years old, have died at Cape Kiwanda since 2014 - as visitors explore dangerous cliffs and search for better ocean views despite warning signs and fences.

PCJWSA won approval for a controversial sewer plant upgrade. Some upgrade is definitely needed  -  the plant is old, and has a long and impressive history of violations from DEQ - but an upgrade that provides sewer capacity for building the maximum number of houses will not serve the community well. Yet PCJWSA used an impermissibly inflated growth projection rate to justify the new upgrade, ignoring serious problems of equipment maintenance and replacement and management problems, all of which contribute at least as much, and perhaps more, to the Authority's  current poor performance.

The community's other infrastructure is buckling under the strain of all the growth, and many people who live there feel the community no longer has the ambience of the small fishing and vacation town it used to have. ORCA hopes Pacific City residents turn out in force at the upcoming hearings to describe how the proposed changes fail to protect the community's future.  The fate of the amended Plan and ordinances is  in the hands of those who speak up and advocate for a different future than the one currently proposed.

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