When people admire the beautiful coastal bluffs along Oregon beaches, there is a tendency to assume that the bluffs and dune backs have been there, just as they appear, for centuries. But that, of course, is a “groundless” assumption. Beach bluffs and dune backs are in constant motion, receding at various rates per year. Over time it is common to see situations developing as evident in the photo above. Coastal communities have recently been grappling with trying to prevent, or at least slow down, the erosion danger to homes and businesses that were built at a spot that, over the years, has become “on the edge.”
The city of Newport recently passed a long awaited update to it’s “geohazard” development rules and Lincoln City is in the middle of doing the same thing. A proposed update was before the city council Monday night and after long discussions with state geologists, property owners and others, it was agreed that the proposed rule changes look pretty good, except for one minor thing; a mandatory minimum 20-foot setback from a bluff cliff. The council was convinced that although, on its face, the minimum set back seems reasonable, there are, none-the-less, exceptions that should be considered. The council instructed planning staff to remove the 20-foot mandate, leaving other rules in place to take care of the safety issues which include minimum set backs for new construction of 60 times the annual bluff cliff erosion rate plus five feet.
Planning staff said they would make the revision and again present the ordinance package at one of the council’s November meetings.