The City of Cannon Beach is considering building a joint city hall and police station that can withstand an earthquake or tsunami.

The new facility would provide a place for city staff to manage an emergency in the event a natural disaster strikes Cannon Beach, said City Manager Bruce St. Denis.

“In an earthquake, we will not have a place from which to work,” St. Denis said. Regardless, residents would be “looking to the city to handle an emergency.”

 The current facility is a former logging operations building that’s about 70 years old and was “never meant to be an emergency-type building,” he said. “The building is part lumber and part a hollow terracotta block at risk during an earthquake” and is located in the tsunami zone.

“If it were a small or medium tsunami, (city hall) would be impacted,” he said.

“The City of Cannon Beach is tentatively scheduling a referral in May of 2020 which will give the voters the opportunity to decide whether to approve the City Hall/Police Station project by agreeing to a tax levy for its’ funding,” he said in an email.  

“The project would be financed over 30 years so that future users will pay their fair share of the cost of the facility.”  

The city has been considering building such a facility for about 10 to 15 years, he said.

Police Chief Jason Schermerhorn said the floors of the existing police station are “uneven and you can’t even close (some) doors.” The station is “cramped” and lacks sufficient storage area.  

“We had to decommission a jail cell for (space). The evidence room is at capacity.”

The city hired SRG Partnership, Inc., an architectural firm based in the Northwest, to look at the city’s options for a new facility, as stated in a city document. St. Denis said the firm’s studies estimated the building would cost between $15 million and $32 million “depending on where it is built.” The proximity of the land to existing utility infrastructure and whether it is located in a “slide zone” would affect the cost of construction, for example.

The City Council discussed Tuesday whether to appoint a citizens’ committee to look at whether the city has sufficiently researched its options with respect to constructing a new facility, as stated in a city document.

In an email Wednesday, St. Denis said that during Tuesday’s meeting, “Council gave direction for staff to bring a resolution creating a committee to review the materials that had been developed as the basis for decisions related to a City Hall/Police Station project.

 “The Council accepted a proposal from Council President Benefield that the committee be composed of one member of the seven ‘standing committees’ as well as 4 individuals to be appointed ‘at large.’ Each of the standing committees was to select their own representative during their October meetings.  

“The city will also seek letters of interest from citizens interested in one of the four additional seats. 

The final decision regarding the scope of the review and the 11 appointments will be made at the October 1st meeting.

“Letters can be forwarded to the City Manager’s office prior to September 26th,” added St. Denis.


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