CANNON BEACH — Sand was moved near Breakers Point in Cannon Beach after a winter storm. But was it moved from an area that needed Oregon Parks and Recreation Department approval?
City officials say it was part of an attempt to prevent erosion, but the nonprofit Oregon Coast Alliance believes the city and Breakers Point should have sought state approval before putting shovels to the sand.
Oregon Coast Alliance Land Use Director Cameron La Follette filed a complaint in January with the state Parks and Recreation Department, which issued a notice of violation in May to the Breakers Point Homeowners Association and the city for modifying and removing sand at a dune complex located west of the Breakers Point condominiums.
No improvements can be made within the ocean shore, a state recreation area, without a permit.
“Breakers Point and Cannon Beach were co-partners and collaborators in this emergency dune grading,” La Follette said. “Breakers Point was fully involved in the situation. Both parties should be held jointly responsible.”
Although removing private sand would have been permitted, the violation came from the two parties taking sand from public-owned and state-managed ocean shore to fill the hole.
The violation occurred during emergency sand removal and dune alteration in December, after a storm left underground utilities exposed.
Following the storm, Breakers Point Homeowners Association requested emergency assistance from the city after a storm eroded a bank adjacent to the condominiums and exposed a natural gas main.
In the notice of violation, the Parks and Recreation Department required that the city and homeowners association take corrective measures by November to completely restore the dune by returning sand, restoring its topography and replanting European beach grass.
If the corrective actions are not completed by that time, the city and Breakers Point could be fined civil penalties up to $10,000 per day.
‘A simple mistake’
The city responded to the notice by submitting a remediation plan that the state approved, City Manager Brant Kucera said.
Kucera said the removal of sand from a state recreation area was “a simple mistake.” “We felt like it was an emergency. We were compelled to move sand to stop erosion.”
“The issue boils down to where the sand was taken from,” Kucera said. “Sand was moved from an area that would have needed approval from Oregon Parks and Recreation. We did not intend to take sand from that far into the dune.”
In response to the notice, Breakers Point Homeowners Association requested a hearing and stated that the violation did not apply to them because the city “did the work to improve public and emergency access to the beach.”
“Breakers Point expects to work with the city and the state to resolve this matter,” Dean Alterman, the homeowner association’s attorney, said in an email. “The association has requested a hearing before Oregon Parks and Recreation Department as a precaution, in case we can’t solve it amicably.”
The letter requesting a hearing asked the state to consider that Breakers Point Homeowners Association “did not remove sand from the ocean shore or alter any dunes west of the statutory vegetation line; the City of Cannon Beach performed the work on its own initiative.”
The alliance would like all involved parties to bear responsibility, La Follette said.
“The financial planning and restoration responsibilities should be placed on both parties who participated in illegally grading the public sands,” she said.