For years it’s been a constant battle between houses (which some say should have never been approved) and the sand along the Bayshore, just off the north end of the Waldport Bridge. Because the homes were built along the backside of a foredune, it’s a very active sand blown area which regularly covers, and frequently buries a number of homes near the south tip of the peninsula. Lincoln County Planning Director Onno Husing told the county commission Wednesday that the homes were constructed directly in the path of migrating sand which moves back and forth along the Bayshore and at the end of the Bayshore Spit.
Husing and planner Jessica Bondy told county commissioners that the only long term solution is to give in to the sand, but perhaps guiding it (a little) to keep it on the ocean side of the peninsula. They said the county is proposing what amounts to a sand management plan that seeks to keep the sand on the seaward side of Oceania Drive.
Husing and Bondy’s report indicates there are a number of tactics that can accomplish this. Instead of limiting sand removal one house at a time, a new county plan, soon to be before the county planning commission, would allow a number of homeowners, working in tandem, to clear the sand from around their houses. Another strategy is to pursue an aggressive sand re-vegetation effort. Also, property owners can erect what are called “sand fences” which can help contain sand on the seaward side of the homes.
In the past, there was no coordinated method of dealing with the problem. If the planning commission agrees and is ratified by the Lincoln County Commission, property owners could band together and try to regain control. And with an aggressive vegetation program, as you see in picture number six, the sand can be tamed. The trick, says Husing, is allowing sand to oscillate back and forth across the beach area, restricted naturally by dune vegetation. You can see in the bottom two pictures that homes farther north on Oceania are protected by firmly established dune vegetation. But at the south end, no such barrier exists. And so those properties are constantly bombarded by the rath of mother nature and her mountains of sand.
Paying for sand “dig outs” and for deflection fences, along with revegetation will not be at taxpayers’ expense, according to Bondy. Therefore, options for the homeowners include forming a self taxing “Sand Management District” that would pay a contractor to keep the sand on the seaward side of the dune line. Other management tactics are also possible.
Final approval of the plan must await changes in the county’s land use codes that would allow such a plan to move forward. Once reviewed and ostensively approved by the county planning commission, the Lincoln County Commission would have the final say. All three county commissioners Wednesday indicated that they were impressed that there may well be a workable solution to the Bayshore sand situation that has plagued that area of Waldport for many, many years.