Dunes Grading

Sand blows across a dune in Cannon Beach between houses and the ocean.

The Cannon Beach City Council continues to work on updating its foredune management plan. And while it has decided no longer to allow grading dunes for views, managing the maintenance of the sand dunes remains under discussion.

The city’s community development director, Jeff Adams, said the council now is working on a “user’s guide.”  

“The council has tasked us with updating the foredune management plan to incorporate their suggestions of making it more of a user’s guide,” said Adams in an email, “by providing definitions, restructuring the document, and providing best practices for the various management and implementation components.”

Meantime, Cannon Beach residents Diane and Rex Amos earlier sent letters to the city on the issue of dune grading. Rex Amos said in a copy of his letter, sent to The Gazette: “In order to protect our city, the dunes should be encouraged, not bulldozed. We should have the Great Barrier Dune, the first line of defense against a tsunami.”

And Diane Amos said in an email last week: “The main issue now is the interpretation of ‘maintenance’ and ‘remedial’ grading. The terms need to be defined specifically enough to prevent them from being so broadly interpreted that they become another excuse for grading dunes for views.”

At the same time, Robbie Dodd, who lives in the Breakers Point condominium complex at the north end of Cannon Beach, said in an email: “The City Council continued to dismantle the proposed foredune management plan during the last few meetings. Rather than allowing for maintenance grading, they made it clear (and Jeff Adams, community development director, also confirmed this) that they are moving towards allowing only a limited amount of grading to repair dunes that have been eroded, blown-out or to maintain public access.  

“The council is effectively removing any language that would allow someone to mitigate the risk of loss of property through proactive, responsible dune management. The language is being revised to only allow reactive grading and replanting of grasses after storm damage and sand inundation has occurred.”

Dodd added in his email to The Gazette: “City Hall invested over $100,000 and months of meetings to study the causes of and proposed solutions to address the significant beach erosion and sand accumulation issues impacting Cannon Beach.  

“Unfortunately, City Council chose to ignore this scientific basis and overwhelming community support for a responsible dune management plan that restores and protects a diverse beach ecosystem while providing the needed protection of life and property from storm damage.”

Bob Coussens owns a second home in Cannon Beach. He said that in about 2000, he and other oceanfront homeowners went to the city and worked out a sand management plan.

Coussens said that when he had bought his home in 1998, his view was partially blocked by 10 to 12 feet of sand. That sand caused flooding because it trapped the water.

According to their sand management plan, homeowners subsequently planted grass and graded the sand, he said. This “made a huge improvement in reducing sand inundation.”

Now, he said, he has a 20-foot-wide area of grass in front of his house that pedestrians can use. “It is very user-friendly and improved the area for visitors. We really made Cannon Beach along Ocean Avenue a lot more pedestrian-friendly.”

In his email to The Gazette, Rex Amos said: “The main concern about maintenance/remedial is over how much the beachfront property owners get to grade because there is private property, city property and state property involved. Grading in the past makes the dunes look like landing strips and the sand, as Diane states, blows all over the neighborhood.  

“Again, in Diane’s letter she points out that we had this ‘view’ problem in Portland. We could not cut down the trees. Nor should the beachfront owners be allowed to grade the dunes for views under the definition of ‘maintenance’ or ‘remedial.’”

Adams said last week, “The foredune management plan will be back before the City Council on Jan.14, where they’ll review the revised draft of the … plan.”

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