|In Oregon, the beaches belong to the people. As part of Oregon's tradition of environmental stewardship, the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition serves as the guardian of the public interest for our coastal region. Oregon Shores is dedicated to preserving the natural communities, ecosystems and landscapes of the Oregon coast while conserving the public's access. Oregon Shores pursues these ends through education, advocacy, and engaging citizens to keep watch over and defend the Oregon coast.|
| Aug 11 Rockaway Riprap Proposal Fails in Court|
The house in Rockaway which is causing all the controversy. Photo by Scott Gilbert.The saga of developer Tai Dang’s campaign to be allowed to riprap his controversial rental property in Rockaway has reached the end of an episode, but a new one is beginning. Having been denied by the City of Rockaway (after many twists and turns to the story), property owner Tai Dang took his case to court, seeking a "writ of mandamus" that would force the city and State Parks (which actually issues riprap permits) to allow him to build the massive structure he proposes. The news recently arrived that he lost; as we argued, he couldn't use the courts to get around the land use process. As far as we, the local citizens united against the demand for riprap, and the City of Rockaway Beach are all concerned, this should be the end of the story, but this is like one of those Hollywood movies that seems to have come to a satisfying conclusion, until the next plot twist arrives.
In this case, that plot twist is that Dang and his attorneys have now gone to the state's Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA), asking that the city's denial be overturned. (Actually, he is demanding that the city consider his request. The city turned him down on the grounds that he never filed a complete application. He didn't file a complete application because there was simply no disputing the fact that the house was built in a location that violated the city's plan.) Oregon Shores will be supporting the city in its attempts to persuade LUBA to reject this attempted end-run, and end the affair once and for all. We contend that no LUBA appeal is possible, since the city didn't actually make a formal land use decision in the case, but simply declared that no legitimate proposal had been made.
To recap: the Rockaway city council rejected Dang’s appeal of the city planning commission’s denial of his application on Aug. 10. The planning commission’s denial was due to a finding that Dang’s application was incomplete, but the underlying reason was that the house is clearly located west of the city’s ocean setback line, in a location where it should never have been built. The city council rejected the appeal on even more fundamental grounds—Dang and his attorneys never paid the standard appeal fee, so his application was moot.
However, Dang attempted to evade the land use process by going to Circuit Court for Tillamook County to seek a writ that would negate the land use decision--which in turn led State Parks to reject his application for a shoreline protection structure--and require both governments to allow him to proceed. The court hearing took place Sept. 26. Both the city and state filed responses asking the court to dismiss the case, and have now prevailed.
Oregon Shores, having actively opposed the riprap application before the city, was on the sidelines for the court case, not being a party to Dang's suit, but we were watching closely and ready to engage if the lower court found in Dang's favor, which we considered a violation of good faith in the state's land use process. Oregon Shores steadily opposed the effort to place riprap on this stretch of public shoreline for well over a year, and urged the council to uphold the planning commission’s denial. We argued both that Dang had failed to abide by the rules governing applications for shoreline alterations such as riprap (as perfectly symbolized by his failure even to pay the appeal fee), and that installing the riprap would deleteriously affect both neighboring properties and the public beach. The city agreed that the application was without merit.
(The city can’t grant the developer a permit to install riprap—only State Parks, which manages the public shoreline, can do that. But to issue a permit, State Parks must receive an affirmation from the local government that the property is eligible for riprap. The city informed the state that the property did not qualify under its plan, so the state dismissed the application. Also, it should be understood that Dang is not seeking to place the riprap structure on his own property; he is asking the public to give him a large swath of public shoreline to protect his private interest.)
This would seem to be a rare victory over the spreading blight of riprap, but we now have to wait to see how LUBA decides. Oregon Shores believes that this claim is deeply flawed and just plain erroneous in many ways. We remain hopeful that LUBA will toss out the case as having no legitimate grounds, and end this attempt to deprive the public of its beach in order to protect development that was grossly inappropriate in the first place.
| Sep 20 Proposed Shoreline Alteration Draws Oregon Shores’ Opposition|
A plan by Neskowin homeowners Ken and Judy Graham to stabilize the eroding slope beneath their house has drawn an argument in opposition from Oregon Shores. The Grahams have applied to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD), which is responsible for permits to alter the shoreline, for permission to install rockfall mesh over a previous installation that has been failing. We argue that ...
| Sep 22 Oregon Shores Endorses ‘Outdoor School for All’|
Kids conducting their own nature study. Photo by Cathy Tronquet.Ballot Measure 99, the “Outdoor School for All” proposition, would ensure that all Oregon middle school students gain the opportunity for a week of hands-on environmental learning. Oregon Shores urged members to sign the petition that succeeded in placing the measure on the ballot, and we now advocate that those who care about both education and the environment vote for the measure in November.
Outdoor School is an Oregon legacy that teaches important life skills and boosts academic achievement, giving students a learning opportunity they can’t get in the classroom. Research shows that children who attend Outdoor School do better in school; their attendance improves and they’re more motivated to learn.
Today, the average child spends seven hours a day on a screen and less time outside than ever before. Outdoor School allows them to unplug and reconnects them with science and nature. It fosters a strong sense of responsibility, stewardship and connection to the land, teaching them there’s more to the outdoors than Pokémon Go.
However, there currently is no dedicated source of funding for this Oregon educational tradition, meaning that many students are left out. Measure 99 dedicates a portion of lottery funds to make Outdoor School available for all.
For more information or to find out how you can help support, volunteer or spread the word, and to pledge your vote, visit www.outdoorschoolforall.org.
| Sep 16 Vested Rights Threat Spurs Court Appeal|
Oregon Shores has gone to court, seeking a “writ of review” of what we consider a gravely erroneous decision by the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners. The commissioners voted to allow would-be developers, the Aspmo family, to build 15 houses on forested land where they would never be permitted under conventional land use planning, due to their claim of a “vested right.” We submitted our ...
| Aug 30 Clinton Campaign Responds to Appeal for ‘Blue Economy’|
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has responded personally to Oregon Shores’ demand for a campaign pledge to work for ocean health and the “blue economy” the ocean supports. “Our nation and the world depend on a resilient, sustainable, and healthy ocean ecosystem,” the former Secretary of State assured us. “Like you, I believe the time has come to ensure the future vitality of ...
| Jun 7 2015 Photographers Invited to Help Oregon Shores Illustrate Our Work|
As you've likely noticed if you visit this website regularly, Oregon Shores uses numerous photographs of the shoreline and of the entire coastal region. We illustrate articles on this website, and we also use photos in newsletters and e-bulletins and in various other publications, such as CoastWatch handouts. We’re constantly searching for new images of the coast. Some we seek for their sheer ...