"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

Project Approval and Serious Violations

Bandon City Council Approves Gravel Point Resort

Tillamook County Responds to the Treehouse Violations

Bandon City Council Approves Gravel Point Resort

Bandon Beach Sunset. Courtesy Ian Parker/Evanescent Light

At a hearing on February 21st the Bandon City Council, on a 4-2 vote, approved the Gravel Point resort. The resort is to be built at the end of Beach Loop Drive, on some 25 acres of land, and will comprise a 110-room hotel plus 32 “suites,” as well as two restaurants, a spa and other amenities.

Local residents testified in detail about the damage to Beach Loop Drive from construction traffic, resort traffic once the buildout is complete, and the importance of Beach Loop as a scenic drive and walking area for both residents and visitors. Bruce Spencer, who appealed the Planning Commission approval (as ORCA also did), spoke eloquently on the many ways this resort proposal did not fit Bandon’s ordinances, vision for the town or infrastructure needs. ORCA testified in detail about the infrastructure problems, which city officials have been warning about for many years. Bandon ordinances require a conditional use application to (among other things) prove that “[a]ll ... public facilities and services have adequate capacity to serve the proposal, and are available or can be made available by the applicant[.]”

But ORCA, with the help of local experts Mary O’Dea and Sheryl Bremmer, who have long experience on the Utilities Commission and Planning Commission, was able to show that the utilities problem in Bandon is drastic. Both the water and wastewater treatment plants are operating at or above their engineered capacity and beyond their designed service life. There are serious, multiple problems in the city’s infrastructure, including such things as the deterioration of water lines, insufficient storage capacity of treated water, and the spiraling costs of deferred maintenance under the city’s policy of underfunding these essential services since 2011-2012. The water treatment plant alone requires more than $18 million in capital improvements, and it will cost approximately $14 million to replace water lines.

Most shocking of all is that there is inadequate water for fire flow at water hydrants, which gives grave cause for concern in the urgent needs of fire suppression. Given Bandon’s history of fire – the town was destroyed by the terrible fire of 1936 as flames, fueled by the ever-present gorse, roared through – this concern should have been one of great prominence to Council.

But Council members listened stolidly to all the impassioned testimony without asking any questions. The Mayor did bring up the fire hydrant question, whereupon it was discovered that the city did not know which hydrants were short on water pressure, and so Council did not have a good solution to address the problem of adding a colossal resort to the water system.

Bandon is almost entirely dependent on the Transient Occupancy Tax for its city budget, thanks to failing to nurture local businesses or attract much light industrial/commercial activity. Clearly that consideration overrode any possible concerns about the resort proposal. ORCA thanks the two Council members who voted against the project out of concern for its effects on the community.

Tillamook County Responds to the Treehouse Violations

DEQ photos of the Treehouse Partners Violations at Two Capes Lookout. Courtesy DEQ

In our last newsletter, we reported that Treehouse Partners LLC had amassed a large number of Class I violations – the most serious level – from the Department of Environmental Quality for their cavalier work on the land just east of Tierra del Mar where they plan to place a large campground. Tillamook County Board of Commissioners unwisely approved the Treehouse project in the spring of 2023, despite serious gaps in the application, including a geological hazard report and a wetland delineation.

It was therefore no surprise, at least to ORCA, that Treehouse began their project with complete disregard for state laws governing construction projects. DEQ issued a pre-enforcement letter detailing the violations, which included bulldozing an industrial haul road over an unprotected stream, and dumping massive sediments into the creek and its wetlands.

ORCA called upon Tillamook County to rescind the county land use permit. When eventually the County Community Development Department replied, they declined to revoke the permit at this time, determining it to be premature, “because this matter appears to remain under investigation with directives for immediate corrective actions[.]” The county decided that if Treehouse cannot or will not bring the project into compliance with DEQ requirements, the county’s best course would be to schedule a hearing before the Board of Commissioners with a recommendation for revocation of the county conditional use permit.

We shall see how the saga carries on. ORCA feels the county is correct to bring the matter back to the Board of Commissioners if and when the time is ripe for permit revocation, so there can be a public airing of the many problems and environmental harm Treehouse has caused.

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Contact Information
Contact Executive Director Cameron La Follette
by email or phone: 503-391-0210
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