"To protect the Oregon coast by working with coastal residents for sustainable communities; protection and restoration of coastal and marine natural resources; providing education and advocacy on land use development; and adaptation to climate change."

Oregon Coast Alliance is the coastal affiliate of 1000 Friends of Oregon

Oregon Coast Alliance Newsletter

Important Chances to Speak Up on Coastal Livability

Bandon Planning Commission Approval of Gravel Point Resort Appealed

Wheeler Fish Processing Plant: Hearing December 6th

Drones in State Parks? Testimony Due December 29th

ORCA Receives an Oregon Community Foundation Grant

Bandon Planning Commission Approval of Gravel Point Resort Appealed

Bandon Beach Sunset. Courtesy Ian Parker/Evanescent Light

The Bandon planning commission approved the proposed Gravel Point resort earlier this month. With a minimum of discussion, the commission approved a massive resort that would feature 110 hotel rooms, plus 32 villa/suites, as well as meeting rooms and other amenities. To receive a conditional use permit, the applicants have to show, among other things, that the proposed use will not disturb surrounding uses, and that the infrastructure exists to provide utilities and water to the new use. The planning commission did not seriously weigh any of the factors they should have under the city’s ordinances. They merely noted that this undeveloped area in the city was going to be developed eventually, so this proposal was as good as another. This is not responsible decision-making.

Both Oregon Coast Alliance and a local resident filed appeals of the decision with the city. It is hoped that City Council will exercise a more balanced decision-making process that weighs the proposal against the criteria in city ordinances to determine if a proposal as massive as this one is appropriate for Bandon. There was much local testimony at the planning commission that it is far too outsize in terms of transportation, city streets, infrastructure and quiet residential use of the surrounding lands.The date of the City Council hearing has not yet been set.

Wheeler Fish Processing Plant: Hearing December 6th

Wheeler Docks and Neahkahnie Mountain. Courtesy City of Wheeler

In the long saga of Botts Marsh LLC trying to get the City of Wheeler to approve a project that does not, according to local decision-makers, meet the city ordinance’s criteria for approval, Ken Ulbricht has taken the city to the Land Use Board of Appeals several times. Most recently, LUBA remanded to the city its denial of a proposed fish processing plant on the site, which is a piece of old fill land bordering directly on Nehalem Bay. The hearing will be Wednesday, December 6th at 6:00 PM before City Council. Council will be discussing only those limited, narrow items on which LUBA remanded the case. Testimony should be sent to Pax Broder, the city manager, here. For log-in information to listen to the hearing, click here.

ORCA opposed this proposed fish plant at the outset, and continues to oppose it. It would be a highly unsuitable project for the town of Wheeler, as well as being ecologically inappropriate for a waterfront parcel bordering Nehalem Bay. In his application, the applicant provided no information on critical issues such as water use, wastewater treatment and need for the plant, as required by city ordinances.

LUBA remanded the city’s denial of the proposal on extremely narrow grounds, that the city had not adequately explained its denial on such limited questions as the requirement to provide a courtyard/plaza; direct pedestrian connections; compatibility between the site and adjoining buildings; architectural style and avoidance of design monotony; and impact of the building on views. These are the only criteria that will be discussed at the hearing. Even if Wheeler City Council decides the city’s criteria have been met, the applicant faces many other hurdles from other agencies, so the saga of the fish plant will likely carry on for some time.

Drones in State Parks? Testimony Due December 29th

Drone capturing content. Courtesy Jared Brashier/Unsplash

Shall Oregon state parks welcome drones within their borders? This is a hot-button issue, quite fiercely debated for more than two years now. OPRD’s first effort at rule-making strongly favored out-of-state drone users. There were no conservation representatives on the rule-making committee. Controversy erupted. The Parks Commission directed staff to start over, and new rule-making is inching along. Astonishing but true: the Parks and Recreation Department is not even considering a ban on drone use, as are in effect in at least four other state park systems around the country! 

It is clear to ORCA, and to many other conservation organizations, that drones have no place in the parks — the rest of the state is open to them; what is the need for drone pilots to overfly the relatively few acres of parks? Our state parks receive a staggering number of visitors per year: some 53 million people. Most flock to the parks for their qualities of quiet, serenity, rugged natural beauty, and an escape from the commonplace encroachments of technology. An extremely tiny minority of park users are drone flyers — and yet OPRD wants to accommodate these users, whose preferred recreation degrades the enjoyment of everyone else.

Currently, OPRD has released proposed drone criteria and generic maps. You can review them here.

Submit comments on drone use in state parks via OPRD’s online portal above, or via email.

Though the agency wants comments on the criteria and maps specifically, people can comment on whatever aspect of the question they wish. Please consider raising the critical question of why OPRD is encouraging and welcoming drone use at all. It is also relevant to question how OPRD would ever enforce its rules on drones flying here and there; rules such as these are extremely easy to break, and enforcement will be close to zero. If drone use is to be allowed for any specific purpose, such as filming or ecological research, a permit must be required; recreational drone use, in ORCA’s opinion, must not be allowed at all. We also note that the current proposal, with a few generic maps and vague criteria, is definitely not enough for public involvement. The public needs to be able to review and comment on proposed takeoff and landing area maps for every state park, not just a generic sample, before rule-making is finalized.

ORCA Receives an Oregon Community Foundation Grant

Moonset at Tillicum. Courtesy ORCA

ORCA is pleased to announce that it has received a grant from the Oregon Community Foundation to identify, catalog and post online the Type I approvals granted by counties in the coastal region. Funding came via the Gainor Minott Fund and the Clatsop County Endowment Fund, both administered by Oregon Community Foundation.

Type I decisions are, generally, those in which the county has determined that an application meets all necessary criteria, and can be approved with no (or minimal) public notice, opportunity for comment, or right of appeal. The process is completely or largely outside the Goal I public involvement requirements of the land use laws. Clatsop County in particular is trying to expand the use of Type I decision-making, as it is so much cheaper and less troublesome than involving the public. Recently the county approved the 9,000 square foot Alkire mansion with extensive landscaping including potagers (kitchen gardens), viewing terraces, chicken coops and other features, as a Type I approval just outside of Cannon Beach — with no notice to the public or the city. The county’s rationale? There is no limit to the size of a building that can be approved under Type I!

It is clear to ORCA that Type I decision-making dangerously cuts off more and more land use decision-making from the public arena, and the ability of local residents to participate in forging the livability of their communities. We will be implementing this grant in the months to come, and providing more information on Type I decision-making in coastal counties.

Quick Links...

Here's where you can make a difference for the Oregon coast.
Go to the ORCA website to make a donation or become a sustaining member. 
Make a Donation

Contact Information
Contact Executive Director Cameron La Follette
by email or phone: 503-391-0210
You are receiving ORCA email communications as a donor or as a person who subscribed to this email newsletter. Please click Unsubscribe below if you wish to no longer receive the Oregon Coast Alliance Newsletter.