The Tillamook County planning commission has been grappling with a similar Goal 18 exception request, but the situation is very different. The homeowners at Pine Beach in the unincorporated community of Watseco/Barview want to add some 880 feet of riprap to a largely unspoiled beach that has less than 30% of armored shoreline. The application was deficient in several ways, but most importantly, it lacked any kind of alternatives analysis, justification why the riprap is needed, or any showing of need. ORCA is opposed to this goal exception.
Unfortunately, the Tillamook County planning commission recommended to the Board of Commissioners that they approve this request, despite the Department of Land Conservation and Development strongly recommending denial. The planning commission tried to stress the uniqueness of these properties, characterizing the original development as done in good faith on a stabilized dune. They explained, “it is not right to deny a property owner the same opportunities to protect their property that others are afforded due to grandfathered rights that allow them to take action for protection of their properties.”
The problem with that argument is that it opens the door to extensive riprapping countywide. Merely providing a property owner a chance to armor the shoreline via a Goal 18 exception because he developed later than his neighbor would lead to anybody being able to riprap, as long as they applied for a permit. But state law does not provide an open door policy for shoreline armoring. It requires a showing of need, an alternatives analysis, and requires upholding the policy of limiting riprap to curb the inevitable shoreline erosion that follows. Goal 18 recognizes the beach’s natural function. The county does not have a responsibility to protect private dwellings built in a coastal high hazard area, such as on a stabilized dune. The county does have a responsibility to deny goal exception applications that do not meet the state criteria.
The Board of Commissioners hearings will be in late July and early August. The BOC packet is here. Please send testimony to Sarah Absher.