Oregon Coast Alliance Newsletter

  Ulbricht Fish Plant Denied and Other News

Wheeler City Council Denies Ulbricht Fish Plant

The Roberts House in Cannon Beach…Again

Lincoln County Voters Pass STR Rollback!
Wheeler City Council Denies Ulbricht Fish Plant
Wheeler Docks and Nehalem Bay. Courtesy City of Wheeler
Applicant Ken Ulbricht proposed to build a large fish processing and seafood retail sales plant on his property fronting Nehalem Bay. There were multiple problems with the application, which led to the Wheeler planning commission denying it. Ulbricht appealed, and there was a lot of testimony on the project before City Council. The problems ranged from lack of a geological hazard report for the project to failure to meet the most basic requirements of the Design Review ordinance. There was no substantive information on water, water supply or water treatment, not to mention sanitary requirements. City Council, echoing the concerns of the planning commission, denied the application on a three to two vote.

These hearings in Wheeler were the only opportunity for community participation in the land use decision-making process on the project. Later technical work on water supply, sanitation, or building permits would not require hearings, nor provide any further opportunity to influence the land use decision. Commenting on permit applications provides only a very narrow range of public input. 

Thank you, City Council, for listening to residents and taking seriously the many concerns raised before you.

The Roberts House in Cannon Beach…Again
Roberts House, as Rendered by Applicant. October 2020. Courtesy City of Cannon Beach
The Roberts have one house application denial before the Court of Appeals, LUBA having sided with the city of Cannon Beach in upholding its Oceanfront Setback rules. Both ORCA and the League of Oregon Cities have written briefs, arguing for the importance of maintaining the Oceanfront Setback requirements. The Roberts applied for a similar house a second time, this time asking for a variance from the Oceanfront Setback. City Council denied this as well, for similar reasons. The Roberts did not appeal. 

Now they have asked for a permit for a “stability beam.” They argue it is an effort to stabilize the erosion-prone property. But Haystack Rock LLC, the adjacent property owner that owns the Oswald West cabin, believes otherwise, and ORCA agrees with them. A stability beam is part of a house, not a separate construction. Since the stability beam would be placed in the Oceanfront Setback area, clearly the Roberts would tie it to a house they are allowed to build, if their lawsuit at the Court of Appeals is successful. Further, in order to move ahead, the Roberts would need changes to the Nenana Ave. access.

Cannon Beach approved the stability beam application administratively, but it was appealed to the planning commission. The Cannon Beach planning commission will be accepting testimony on the matter until Friday, December 3, and making a final decision at its next meeting.

What does the future hold for this property? The Daily Astorian, in a November 15, 2021 article, summarized the applicant’s thoughts as follows: "Roberts is not interested in building a smaller house to satisfy the city’s requirements. There is a good chance, he thinks, that he’ll never be able to build the house he envisioned. If “no” is the final answer, he’ll put something else on the property: some kind of homeless shelter, maybe, or, he said, “the most obnoxious art.””

Lincoln County Voters Pass STR Rollback!
Yaquina Head Lighthouse at Sunset. Courtesy Brandon Scott
Voters in rural unincorporated Lincoln County had an opportunity to decide on whether the current mushrooming of Short Term Rentals (STRs) should be allowed to continue, or whether they should be phased out. Lincoln County had never placed any kind of cap on the number of STRs, and numbers permitted continued to climb as internet booking platforms such as Airbnb came into vogue. A coalition of alarmed county residents and neighborhood groups placed a measure on the November ballot, Measure 21-203, to phase out the rentals over a five year period and immediately prohibit the county from issuing any new licenses.

It is an important and emotional issue on the coast, which led to very high voter turnout figures for an off-year election: 44% of registered voters cast a ballot. The measure passed by a large margin, with 58% of voters deciding that STRs should be phased out in rural Lincoln County. STR licenses in the county had been halted as of March 2020 while the Board of County Commissioners decided what actions to take on STRs. But thus far the Board had not made any decisive moves, though days before the vote they did finally take halting steps towards capping rentals. But it was a day late and a dollar short, as the ballot measure vote engulfed their efforts.

This ballot measure has been watched with the greatest interest by neighborhood groups and residents in other parts of the coast, most of whom are struggling with similar issues, or had done so in the past. Clatsop County, for example, voted in an STR license moratorium early in the year in order to look into revising its code concerning STR regulation. Other counties and communities are also looking into options. The message is clear: coastal residents want their neighborhoods back. They do not want to see a coast that is composed of large swaths of vacation rentals.