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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.
  ALERTS
 Rockaway Council Turns Down Riprap Appeal
Developer Tai Dang's threatened Rockaway house. Photo by Shalom Gilbert.
The saga of developer Tai Dang’s campaign to be allowed to riprap his controversial rental property in Rockaway seems to have come to an end, as far as the City of Rockaway Beach is concerned. Stay tuned, however. This could prove to be like one of those Hollywood movies that seems to have come to a satisfying conclusion, until a new twist is suddenly introduced.
The Rockaway city council rejected Dang’s appeal of the city planning commission’s denial of his application Wednesday evening (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.
Oregon Shores has been steadily opposing the effort to place riprap on this stretch of public shoreline for more than 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 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 Dang is also trying a second line of attack. His attorney has filed a "writ of mandamus" in Circuit Court, seeking to gain the right to build a shoreline protection structure by another route, asking the court to compel the city and state to allow the riprap structure. Oregon Shores believes that this court claim is deeply flawed and just plain erroneous in many ways. The city and State Parks are the named parties and will be defending their actions, but we will be watching the case very carefully.
 

  EVENTS
 Once More unto the Debris-Strewn Beach in Yachats
Marine debris on Netarts spit. Photo by Allison Asbjornsen.
Fawn Custer, CoastWatch’s volunteer coordinator, spoke to the Yachats Academy of Arts and Science last year on the subject of marine debris, and the talk must have gone over well, because she is back by popular demand. The grandly named “Academy,” a citizen-run group that brings lectures and other cultural offerings to Yachats, will feature Custer in a talk on Friday, Sept. 16, at 6:30 p.m.
The event, free to the public (a $5 donation is suggested), takes place at the Yachats Commons, at 4th and Hwy 101 in central Yachats.
Fawn will discuss the marine debris monitoring survey, using a protocol from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which CoastWatch organizes in Oregon, and the results we’ve been seeing from this citizen science project. She will also provide information on the tsunami debris that has been steadily washing up on our shores, including how to identify debris as being produced by the Japanese tsunami, how to identify likely non-native species carried by this debris, and what to do about it. She will add some notes about CoastWatch’s other citizen science projects, and answer questions about CoastWatch or anything shoreline-related.
For more information about the talk, CoastWatch, or citizen science, contact Fawn and (541) 270-0027, fawn@oregonshores.org.
 

  NEWS
 Coos County Ratifies Pro-LNG Decision
Coos Bay's North Spit, looking east. Photo by Courtney Johnson.
We have waited a long time for the official word, even though we were certain we knew what it would be. Finally, after many delays, the Coos County Board of Commissioners has affirmed most elements in the earlier decision of its appointed Hearings Officer, approving land use permits for the proposed Jordan Cove LNG (liquefied natural gas) export facility, and overruling the many contrary arguments filed by Oregon Shores.
Fighting the Jordan Cove LNG development scheme on the land use planning front has been a key contribution by Oregon Shores to the coalition effort to block the facility. We will be carrying the battle to the next level, the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA). We await the formal written decision from the Coos County commissioners, at which point the clock starts ticking for filing an appeal.
In general, Oregon Shores will continue to argue that the damage to public trust resources is unacceptable, and that no substantial public benefit has been demonstrated that would outweigh the damage to the estuary. There are other, more technical issues, but we will have to read the final order to know exactly how it can be challenged.
Oregon Shores won a temporary victory last year in our battle to block the LNG export facility proposed for Coos Bay’s North Spit. The Jordan Cove Energy Project (a branch of Canadian corporation Veresen) had persuaded Coos County to reissue all the land use approvals the company received six years ago when the project was to be an LNG import facility. Oregon Shores, represented by attorney Courtney Johnson through our Coastal Law Project (a partnership with the Crag Law Center), argued that an export facility is very different and poses more severe impacts. After arguments before a hearings officer, Jordan Cove withdrew its application, apparently seeing that we would win the appeal.
However, Jordan Cove returned this year with a somewhat more comprehensive application, seeking the county’s approval for Conditional Use, Compliance Determination and Floodplain Development applications for the new project. Again represented by Courtney Johnson, Oregon Shores argued that the county’s comprehensive plan, zoning ordinance and estuary management plans don’t contemplate a major project like this on the North Spit, dramatically impacting the Coos Bay estuary, and simply won’t accommodate the project. We further argued that the company’s application doesn’t come close to addressing the real risks the facility poses both to human health and safety and to the ecological health of the estuary.
We also contended that the applicant does not come close to demonstrating a public benefit sufficient to justify the interference with “public trust rights”—such as navigation, harvesting (crabs, oysters and so forth) and recreation—that the project and subsequent LNG shipping would create. For instance, LNG tankers require wide safety zones which would seriously interfere with the passage of fishing boats and other shipping on the bay. We do not believe that the desire of a Canadian corporation to ship fracked gas to China through Coos Bay outweighs the impacts to the estuarine environment and to local uses of the estuary.
We further noted that the applicant has failed to adequately address the risks of developing a dangerous facility directly opposite the North Bend airport, and of potential flooding at the site. In addition, we consider that the applicant's proposal for "mitigating" the severe impacts that dredging for the project would have on the Coos Bay estuary is neither adequate nor demonstrably effective.
These arguments did not prevail with either the Hearings Officer or the Coos commissioners. We will next carry them to LUBA, to see what a disinterested party has to say.
 

MORE NEWS...
 South Dunes Power Plant Prompts Contested Case
Oregon Shores has been battling the proposed Jordan Cove LNG (liquefied natural gas) facility for a decade, through various regulatory processes and in a variety of settings. The latest battle is indirect, involving not the LNG terminal itself, but the 420-megawatt power plant that would be built nearby to supply the energy needed to supercool and liquefy the natural gas to be shipped to Asia. ... MORE 
 No New Oregon LNG Threat Appears
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 ... 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