Oregon Coast Alliance Newsletter

  Roberts House Win and Goal 18 Exception News

LUBA Upholds Cannon Beach on the Roberts House

Lincoln County Goal 18 Exception: Approval Recommended on Narrow Grounds

Tillamook County Goal 18 Exception: Approval Recommended on Broad Grounds
LUBA Upholds Cannon Beach on the Roberts House
Roberts House, as Rendered by Applicant. October 2020. Courtesy City of Cannon Beach
The Roberts wanted to build a house on their oceanfront lot in Cannon Beach, but they did not want to comply with the city’s oceanfront setback requirements. These are commonsense rules to ensure people do not build too close to the edge of the shore, leading to subsequent problems with erosion and potential danger to life and property. Cannon Beach planning commission and City Council both denied the Roberts’ request, and they appealed to LUBA. 

In an opinion just handed down, LUBA upheld the city on all counts. This is excellent news, as it protects Cannon Beach’s oceanfront setbacks and their underlying rationale. This is important for many, if not all, other coastal towns, which often have similar rules. ORCA intervened in the case on the side of Cannon Beach to help with the defense of the setback requirements. You can read the opinion here.

Goal 18 Exceptions Update:
Lincoln County and Tillamook County
Goal 18 Exception Area: Threatened Homes (Left) and WorldMark Resort (Right). Courtesy Lincoln County
Several homeowners, plus SeaRidge Condominiums and WorldMark Resort, filed for a Goal 18 exception in Lincoln County to allow them to place shoreline armoring in front of their properties, even though they do not meet the criteria for eligibility. The properties were all developed after the cutoff date of January 1, 1977. Given the circumstances in this situation, ORCA is supporting the exception, as is the state Department of Land Conservation and Development. The deliberation revolves around making it clear in the county’s Findings that this is a unique situation in which an exception is warranted. The surrounding properties are nearly all riprapped, and the beach is eroding as a result. Thus, the state’s goal for limiting armoring, to protect the beaches against erosion, cannot be met in this instance.

The Lincoln County planning commission has held extensive hearings, and received many documents concerning this application. To look at the file of submittals, as well as the planning commission's draft final order and findings making it clear that this is a unique situation, see here.

The planning commission’s principal concern has been to prepare findings that highlight the urgent problems in this location, unlike any other on the coast,due to the extensive and longstanding riprap already in place, and the consequent beach erosion that is clearly occurring. The Board ofCommissioners will hold their hearings beginning in August.
Tillamook County Goal 18 Exception: Approval Recommended on Broad Grounds
Pine Beach Proposed Riprap Area. Courtesy Tillamook County
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.