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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.
 Rockaway Planning Commission Denies Riprap Demand
Rockaway house in question, shown after December storms. Photo by Scott Gilbert.
The final order is in: The planning commission for the city of Rockaway Beach, after long delay, has officially turned down the controversial application by developer Tai Dang for a riprap structure to protect his threatened rental property. The planning commission held two hearings, at the applicant's request, and then delayed while the city's attorney negotiated with Mr. Dang's attorneys. But in the end, the planning commission at its April 26 meeting declared that the application was incomplete, and rejected it. The final order to this effect has now been issued.
However, the issue is far from dead. The developer's attorney has now filed a "writ of mandamus" in Circuit Court, seeking to gain the right to build a shoreline protection structure by another route. We will report more details on the case soon.
Oregon Shores has been combating this riprap proposal at every step. Before declaring victory in our battle to protect this stretch of shoreline from a major shoreline protection structure which would have damaged the public beach and threatened neighboring properties, we will wait to see if the developer attempts to appeal the decision to the city council.
There had been speculation that the city, which originally allowed the threatened house to be built, was reluctant to deny the application for fear that it might be held liable if it denied the owner permission to protect the property with riprap. Oregon Shores, along with many local residents, strongly believes that allowing a shoreline protection structure (riprap) at this location would violate the city's comprehensive plan, and that the planning commission is obligated to say so. But the city had earlier failed to enforce its own plan in allowing the house to be constructed west of the line that should delimit construction under the city's Goal 18 exception zone.
The city believes that because this was not an actual land use decision, but a decision that the application wasn't complete, no appeal should be possible. In going to court, Mr. Dang and his attorney aren't appealing through the land use system, but attempting to go around it. We'll be watching to see how this turns out. (The reason that the application wasn't complete was precisely because Mr. Dang failed to present evidence that the structure qualified for shoreline armoring in the first place.)
To recap: The planning commission held its second hearing on the issue on Tuesday, Jan. 26. Developer Tai Dang applied last year for permission to install riprap to protect his rental house from erosion. Oregon Shores, along with many local residents, successfully opposed the application. It was earlier turned down by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD), based in large part on the city's declaration that the structure’s location violated the comprehensive plan. The developer is now appealing the city’s administrative decision.
At the second hearing, Oregon Shores, represented by attorney Courtney Johnson of our Coastal Law Project, argued forcefully once again that the structure is clearly on the wrong side of the “Ocean Setback Line” defined in the city’s plan and accompanying ordinance. Tai Dang’s appeal had been based on a claim that the structure should qualify for riprapping under the plan.
However, at this hearing the lawyer for Mr. Dang changed arguments, now claiming that the city is obligated to approve shoreline protection for the house because the property was developed prior to Jan. 1, 1977, which is the cutoff point for properties to qualify for armoring under Statewide Planning Goal 18. As Courtney Johnson rejoined, and as Oregon Shores explains more fully in subsequent comments we are sending to the city, this is stretching that regulation too far. While there were cabins on that parcel of land long ago, the parcel has since been divided into two new lots, and the Tai Dang house is built well to the west of the locations of the earlier structures. It is clearly new development, not the kind of pre-existing structures that were grandfathered in when Goal 18 was adopted.
Oregon Shores participated in both hearings on the application, and subsequently requested and received a seven-day continuance of the public comment period, allowing us time to rebut the developer’s claims and also opening the door for additional public testimony. Since that time, we've been waiting to learn the outcome of the behind-the-scenes negotiations taking place, but they apparently came to nothing and the planning commission made the decision we had called for all along, denying riprap that would have clogged the public beach to protect a structure that should never have been built.

 August Community Science Day Planned for Otter Rock
The Otter Rock promontory from the north. Photo by Alex Derr.
We’ve held two Community Science Days at Otter Rock, as the first steps toward organizing a CoastWatch Community Science Team pulling together all our citizen science projects focused on the area surrounding the Otter Rock Marine Reserve. We’re pioneering the concept here, with the hope of making this work for the other marine reserve areas as well, and eventually for other areas of the coast.
Join us on Aug. 6 for another such event. As with the previous Community Science Days, meet on the north side of Otter Rock (Devil’s Punchbowl) at 9 a.m. Guided tidepool exploration will take place throughout the morning. Between 9 and 10:30 a.m. there will also be opportunities to learn about marine debris and our marine debris monitoring project (from Fawn Custer, our volunteer coordinator), and about the sea star wasting episode we've been through and our sea star population survey (from volunteer CoastWatch Community Science Team coordinator Karen Driscoll). At 10:30 a.m., there will be a discussion of beached birds and a demonstration of the beached bird survey in which we collaborate with COASST.
We will be offering hot dogs, s'mores and other goodies at a noon picnic on the beach, but at our usual exorbitant rates—they will cost you a piece of marine debris. The event wraps up with a guided driftline walk led by Fawn Custer.
The event offers fun and education (plus a cleaner beach), but our underlying goal is to continue building the CoastWatch Community Science Team at Otter Rock. Everyone is welcome to this free event, but our hope is that those participating will consider getting involved in one of our citizen science projects (if they aren’t already), and volunteer to be part of the community science team.
For information about the Community Science Day, contact Fawn Custer at (541) 270-0027, If interested in helping with the Community Science Team, contact Fawn or Karen Driscoll at (503) 435-8229,

 No New Oregon LNG Threat Appears
Site of proposed Oregon LNG export terminal. Photo by Tiffany Boothe.
In April, Oregon LNG withdrew its application to develop an LNG (liquefied natural gas) export facility on the Skipanon Peninsula in Warrenton. Oregon LNG informed both the city of Warrenton and the state's Department of Environmental Quality that it would not continue with its appeal of the Warrenton hearings officer's decision to deny the permit on the grounds of interference with fish habitat and recreational activity protected under the city’s comprehensive plan. Oregon Shores and Columbia Riverkeeper worked together in successfully opposing the permit, and attorney Courtney Johnson, representing Oregon Shores as part of our Coastal Law Project, was taking the lead on countering Oregon LNG's appeal at the time the company gave up.
We have been watching anxiously ever since to see whether the company had something else up its sleeve, or whether it had truly abandoned the project. A new threat could still arise, but to date there has been no sign of any further activity. We will stay vigilant, but thus far, no news is good news. (However, remember those cheesy Westerns, in which someone would say "It's quiet out there...too quiet.")
Hundreds of people and many local groups have fought this LNG proposal for a decade. The outcome--if indeed the project is dead--is a remarkable victory for citizen involvement. Community activists in Astoria and all along the proposed 87-mile pipeline route can take credit for a stellar example of grassroots organizing.
Oregon Shores' role has been working in partnership with Columbia Riverkeeper on the land use and legal issues raised for the permit applications for the proposed $6 million terminal and pipeline. Columbia Riverkeeper took the lead in opposing Oregon LNG’s land use application to the city of Warrenton for the site of the proposed export facility, with Courtney Johnson, working on our behalf, providing key support. The city's hearings officer found for us on several points and rejected the application.
Oregon Shores took the lead in opposing Oregon LNG's appeal to the Warrenton city council. We would like to believe that the comments we submitted in opposition to the appeal terrified Oregon LNG into giving up....but really, while we take pride in our contribution to the cause, many dedicated people succeeded in organizing determined resistance that attacked the would-be developers on many fronts and appears to have fended off this potential environmental disaster. Oregon LNG was already facing votes opposing the project from the Astoria City Council and Clatsop County Board of Commissioners, which denied land use permitting for the pipeline.
This just may the happy end of a long, long battle. Just as well, because we still have much to do in combating the other LNG proposed for the Oregon coast, at Jordan Cove on the North Spit of Coos Bay.

 Here’s an Opportunity to Express Your Coastal Values
What areas of the coast do you consider most precious? Which stretches of shoreline need better protection? What do you like to do when you visit the coast? How strongly to you support marine reserves, wave energy development or ocean planning? A research team at Portland State University would like to know. They are conducting a survey of Oregonians that seeks to understand how Oregon residents ... MORE 
 Time to Re-Enroll to Benefit Oregon Shores through Community Rewards
If you are already enrolled in Fred Meyer’s Community Rewards program and benefiting every time you shop, it is time for the annual re-enrollment in the program. And if you haven’t signed up to painlessly assist Oregon Shores with each purchase, there is no time like the present. The re-enrollment period runs through June 30. After that, you will be dropped from the program, although you can ... MORE 
 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 ... MORE