Oregon Coast Alliance Newsletter
Proposed Keiser Hotel in Bandon and Other News
Pacific City Hearing on Community Future: April 12th 

Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area Near Pacific City. Courtesy Matvyei (Wikimedia)
Pacific City residents continue to discuss the proposed changes to the Pacific City/Woods Community Plan, and associated ordinances, as the formal hearings process begins. The initial Tillamook County Planning Commission hearing will be held:

Thursday, April 12
7:00 PM
Kiawanda Community Center
Pacific City

There will  be Board  of Commissioner hearings in  May.

There are many issues in these proposed changes, which ORCA has discussed before. They boil down to what Pacific City residents want for their community in the future: a low-key fishing and beach tourism town, or a more high octane tourist-oriented community, as represented principally by the vision of the Nestucca Ridge family of companies. Changes in some Pacific City zones have generated high controversy; at a Citizen Advisory Committee meeting recently, the current proposed changes were voted down by concerned residents by a vote of 93 opposed to 30 in favor. As a result, the Advisory Committee rejected the current version of the proposed  changes, though the rejected version will be the one before the Planning Commission.

Any changes allowing greater density would affect the Pacific City Joint Water Sanitary Authority, which provides the community's water and sewer. PCJWSA struggles with poor management, which over the years has led to many warnings and violations from the Department of Environmental Quality. These problems cannot be solved by merely building a bigger new wastewater treatment  plant. Many  of the concerns show up in the agency's Board Minutes, ranging from questions about using outside contractors for things such as billing  services to  finding new employees with needed skills, as well as rising costs for the wastewater treatment upgrade. This latter problem recently led the federal funding agency (USDA Rural Development) to request a cost cutback. The Board also recently discussed the problem of community lack of engagement with PCJWSA. This is not surprising, as residents were asked to pay for an enormous upgrade without being able to participate in deciding whether it was needed. PCJWSA has consistently defended it rather than engaging the community in exploring options that  would less likely fuel massive growth.

Keiser Wants a Big New Hotel in Bandon: Hearing April 26th

Bandon Beach Hotel (top); Keiser Proposed Bandon Beach Hotel (bottom). Courtesy City of Bandon.

The Bandon Beach Motel has a checkered history: the then-owner, Margaret Gorman, hastily poured the foundations for it without a city permit in 1991, in order to avoid having to sell her land to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which was purchasing what is now the Coquille Point Unit of Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. As a result, the deteriorating motel sits inside the Refuge boundary, all by itself. Now Michael Keiser, who purchased it in 2008, wants to tear it down and build a completely different one.

The agents for Steere Bandon  Associates gave  a presentation to the Bandon Planning Commission March 7th, and the formal hearing on the application is tentatively scheduled for April 26th.

Bandon Beach  Motel  is a rather bland, inoffensive, two-story building that has reached the end of its useful life. The proposed new Keiser hotel is a cold, three-story wall of glass that will tower over the residences in the  area, and  create a dreadful view for those on the beach looking back up at the bluff above. It will include a restaurant ("The Tasting Room") as well.

Keiser  will have to get a variance on the zoning requirements to build this new hotel: he wants to make it forty-five feet high, but the zoning only allows a height of twenty-four feet.  He also wants up to 55% lot coverage,  and more  impermeable surface - neither of which zoning currently allows.  He also proposes to double the number of  rooms.This  area is subject to a special Bandon ordinance (#1335) aimed at  protecting Coquille Point when  development takes place nearby. It requires an applicant to demonstrate that their proposal "will have no impact on the function of the Refuge."

Keiser's agents paint the new hotel's benefits in glowing terms and assure the public there will be no adverse impact. On the contrary, the application says it is "the public/private solution we have been looking for" - because it will provide public restrooms, food and water and more parking for the Refuge. The developers will be enhancing the scenic view resource and generating additional taxes for Bandon. What could be better? The applicants' powerpoint touts their  credentials as a  "project led by proven, reliable, good stewards of Bandon land."

But this  proposal, like others for  which Keiser  is noted, is  not philanthropic . It is completely self-serving, despite the environmentally-friendly language.  If Keiser  truly wanted to advance the purpose of the Refuge, he would tear down the existing  motel,  restore the land to its natural state, and turn it over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to add to the Refuge. That, and only that, would be philanthropy - unselfish giving for the sake of the environment and the community.

Knapp Ranch Golf Course  Gets Port Orford Effluent
Port Orford Heads. Courtesy Wikimedia.

Elk River Property Development is continuing to press Port Orford for the use of its effluent for the proposed golf course. ORCA uses the term "proposed golf course" advisedly. The Curry Board of Commissioners approved the effluent pipeline - the portion that runs through County-zoned lands - by completely ignoring the expired golf course permit. ORCA has appealed that decision to the Land Use Board of Appeals, because there is a serious legal question about approving a project when the underlying permit expired two years before.

Meantime, ERPD is seeking to forge ahead as if all required permits were in place. Most recently they asked City Council for permission to work with Public Works staff and the City engineers to develop the details of the pipeline. They plan to return to Council for final approval. In the manner of developers seeking favors, ERPD is making many promises to the fiscally strapped town. 

They offer an easement across an applicant-owned parcel that would allow the city to develop a direct gravity line for sewage collection in that area.  ERPD in its March 6 letter also says it will protect the city.  How? "[I]t would provide the city with a secondary route for disposing of its treated wastewater, with the infrastructure and maintenance cost borne by the applicant, in case the city ever needed to discontinue use of its ocean outfall for a period or time...the city would be able to divert its treated wastewater to the applicant's irrigation pond." In exchange EPRD would be entitled to receive wastewater at times and in volumes that allow the applicant to meet irrigation needs.  The city agreed with this, and voted to provide the effluent to ERPD at no cost, "with full recommendations for future engineering work to maintain the current ocean outfall viability."

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