The Cannon Beach City Council voted unanimously Tuesday, Nov. 5, to take no action and send an ordinance back to the parks division that would require people to strap a manure-catching bag around their horses at all times while riding in the town.
The ordinance said that no person shall allow horses under their control to enter any city park or city parking lot with the exception of horse trailers, for the temporary loading and unloading animals, in the West Les Shirley parking lot and the East end of Elk Creek Road.
It was clarified in the meeting that the ordinance does not say that horses are not allowed on the beach; there are no restrictions. It does say that horses must be wearing a manure-carrying device at all times within the city limits. There is no requirement that a horse is bucketed (wearing a manure-carrying device) on the beach. The horse would have to be bucketed on the trails to the beach, but the beach is not regulated for this ordinance. Technically, people could take the device off when they reach the beach and put it back on to go back into the city.
The reasons for this ordinance are due to the drainage system and also riders who come into town and the horses defecate and it is not picked up. The City has had 36 complaints this year about that. They’ve had three open air restaurants that complained that horses defecate in front of their businesses and the manure was not picked up.
Instead of picking it up, manure would be kicked into the storm drain or it would just stay there.
People have sent letters to the City against the ordinance, which will remain in public record.
Robert Wayne, a citizen of Cannon Beach, rides his horses in town frequently.
“I’m here to request that you vote no on this ordinance that would require horses to wear manure bags at all times,” Wayne said.
He asked for time for discussion, as he found out about the ordinance just days before the city council meeting.
“This would be a loss to the city, residents, and visitors,” Wayne said. “And rather inhumane in my opinion.”
When you put one of these bags on a horse, he wags his tail, Wayne said. The horse is not happy at all.
Wayne said it is a privilege to ride his horses downtown. Wayne pays for a policy that protects anyone who is around his horses.
“I pick up my manure meticulously,” Wayne said. “I’ve been doing it for years. I don’t know where 36 complaints come from.”
Wayne showed the bag to the council, saying that the bag is meant for short parades, and not long trips.
Paul Hughes, a citizen of Warrenton, made a point not to come to Cannon Beach if the policy was established.
“My horse would buck me off if I tried to put that on there,” Hughes said of the manure-catching bag. “And then I would probably sue Cannon Beach for making me put that on there. I don’t know if that would be plausible or not, but the reality is that is ridiculous.”
Hughes said there needs to be a stronger policy to ensure people are picking up the horse’s manure, rather than a policy of making horses wear the manure-catching bags. He said if that is the case, all dogs should wear bags also. Horses have less disease in their manure than in other animals, Hughes said.
Ashley Latore, a citizen of Astoria, encouraged the council to vote no on the ordinance. She said DEQ reports that most of the wastewater stems from incorrect hookups from dwellings to the city sewer system.
“Most horseback riders, like myself, leave no trace principles,” Latore said. “Neither of the loading and unloading trails are set up for horse trailers.”
The passing of the ordinance would reduce spending in tourism dollars, Latore said.
Diane Berry, a citizen of Astoria, has had horses since she was in the second grade. She knows about their habits. She’s ridden in the mountains and the beaches.
“Unless you have a horse that is trained for that, you are going to have runaway horses,” Berry said of the ordinance. “You are going to have huge liability issues. So I think you need to work with the equestrian community on this.”
Carmen Swigart, owner of Sea Ranch RV Park & Stables, said there has never been any complaints about manure being in the water source.
“There is no significant evidence that has been proof that the horse manure will create toxicity,” Swigart said.
Swigart rides horses mainly on the beach. She believes the bags are inhumane for horses.
Mark Ward thought of Bob Wayne when he first heard about this ordinance.
“Those buckets won’t work,” Ward said. “They’re dangerous.”
Ward asked where the 36 complaints are coming from.
“You can ride a horse,” Ward said. “That’s why I love Cannon Beach.”
Ward said there has to be another option.
A veterinarian, Bob, spoke up and said that if the city is looking to issue this ordinance for public health, that is not a legitimate reason. There’s very little risk of disease, he said.
The council agreed to send the ordinance back to the parks division for discussion. No action was made by the city council.