Oregon Coast Alliance Newsletter
Good News, Bad News
Pistol River Gravel Mining Application Denied!

Ron Adams Expanded Pistol River Gravel Mining Map. Courtesy Curry County
Curry County Board of Commissioners, having watched local rancher Ron Adams keep expanding his application to mine gravel on the highly eroded lower Pistol River, finally decided the only way to stop  his endless changes  was to deny the application. On a 2-1 vote, Commissioner Boice dissenting, the Curry County Board did so in January.  Thank you,  Curry County Commission, for ending this charade. Mr. Adams provided none of the information necessary for decision-makers to determine whether the  gravel mining  would be helpful or harmful to the degraded lower Pistol. Several organizations, including ORCA, pointed this out in multiple testimonies.

The community rallied,  organizing small  local projects that would benefit the river and at least begin to turn  the erosion  around. Mr. Adams was asked to participate, but he refused, certain that his proposal was the only one that would  improve the river's beleaguered salmon habitat.  Spurning the Pistol-area residents whose work was already bearing fruit sat ill with the Commissioners. They also knew they could not approve an application both vague and full of half-truths and misstatements.

Now that this application is over, community residents are delving into   old  reports and investigating opportunities to  collaborate with  landowners and other interested parties  on larger projects  that will benefit the Pistol. This is excellent news, and ORCA  looks forward to joining forces with them.
Tillamook Board of Commissioners Approve Facebook Cable Landing in Tierra del Mar

Tierra del Mar Aerial Photo. Courtesy Ed Ruttledge
The Tillamook County Board of Commissioners in a January vote approved the application of Edge Cable (a subcontractor for Facebook) to land its new submarine cable in a small vacant lot in  the tiny rural community of  Tierra del Mar. Only Commissioner Mary Faith Bell understood the controversies, respected the community ' s opposition, and voted "No." Thank you, Commissioner Bell. There are many issues with this approval, but  one of  the biggest is this: it is very bad policy-making to force a sacrifice,  especially an unneccessary one,  on a group of people who  will suffer all its consequences but gain nothing . BOC approved the cable  only  because a corporation  that wants to  add to its private assets  requested it  -- another very bad way to make policy. Would Commissioners Yamamoto and Baertlein have voted for this cable landing, and the 6 weeks or more of interminable and high-level industrial noise and vibration it will cause, if it were being proposed for their own neighborhoods? We doubt it.

Edge Cable's consultants  indicated at the hearing that  the company  wished to begin drilling right away, and  not wait to  see if  opponents file  an appeal with the Land Use Board of Appeals. Though Edge Cable is not legally obligated to wait,  it would be prudent,   in case legal decisions are unfavorable;  their failure to observe anything above the bottom line indicates quite clearly where  their priorities  lie. Under pressure from decision-makers, they scheduled a "community meeting" to let the residents of Tierra del Mar know what to expect  as the project begins.  Very kind of them, one might think,  but only  done in order to respond to their tarnished public image.

Oregon has work to do. The state needs to pass legislation governing where submarine cables can and cannot be landed, and the standards a company must meet to gain a permit from a local government. Otherwise, the Tillamook County decision will signal to all such companies that coastal neighborhoods  from Astoria to Brookings  are free game for landing their cables.
Breakers Point's Dune-Grading Shenanigans in Cannon Beach

Dunes at Breakers Point During King Tide January 2018. Courtesy ORCA
In October, the Cannon Beach City Council voted unanimously to end all dune-grading for views. Despite immense pressure from oceanfront owners at Breakers Point, Chapman Point and the Presidential Streets area further south, Council decided the 21-year experiment with view grading needed to end. It was clear to everyone that continuing to allow it would lead to a literally endless spiral of permit applications, testimonies, appeals to City Council, threats of legal action and polarization in the community. 

The dunes protect Cannon Beach's beauty, which is the mainstay of its tourist-oriented economy,  and also  protect the ocean views of everyone, visitor and resident, who walks the beach. And in an uneasy time of climate change, with storm intensities and wave heights both increasing, the dunes are the first and  most  important bulwark in the town's defense.

But all this did not satisfy Breakers Point. The Homeowners' Association, taking advantage of the time lag between the Council decision and finalizing the new ordinances, filed an application  to grade 60,000 to 70,000 cubic yards of sand from the dunes in front of their condos.  With this application, Breakers would be able to have the proposal decided under the still-existing ordinances, before view grading is banned. If turned down, they could litigate.

This is a larger amount than the city has ever allowed in past grading approvals. The  one time in 2015  that Breakers Point  requested  that much grading, the city turned the application down. But the city  scheduled a hearing for January 23rd before the planning commission  on this new application. Two days beforehand, after the staff report was completed, Breakers Point suddenly and inexplicably withdrew their application. It is rather low on the scale of neighborliness and political savvy to file an application taking advantage of the existing  laws just  before they change. But it is even less appropriate to withdraw the application at the last minute.

It is clear, from the testimony during the City Council hearings, the slightly veiled threats of legal action mentioned by some residents, and these most recent Breakers Point application shenanigans, that Cannon Beach City Council made the right decision to end all view grading.
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