As the city’s Planning Commission met last week to discuss goals for the new year, one item rose to the top.
By applying for a state Department of Land Conservation and Development grant, the city could be among the first to develop a coastal resilience plan. The $14,000 grant would be used to evaluate the city’s risk to the Cascadia Subduction Zone tsunami hazard and decide which land use measures to develop and implement to help reduce the city’s risk.
These provisions would likely result in changes to the city’s land use ordinance and its comprehensive plan.
“Planning with resilience in mind will help address the broad range of natural hazards and other threats that coastal communities must contend with,” stated a 2015 report by the Oregon Partnership for Disaster Resilience prepared for Clatsop County.
What is now lacking, City Planner Carole Connell said, is data specific to Gearhart.
If selected among grant applicants, the city would receive data from state’s Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, including the “beat the wave” modeling and mapping program and damage estimate results for infrastructure, buildings and people in various disaster scenarios.
“This gets really into the facts and figures — where do we need to harden services, what we don’t know and where we should be going,” Connell said. “This is taking the next step for a government to come up with a detailed tsunami evacuation facility and improvement plan. It will be detailed.”
Commissioners showed initial reluctance to submit the application, especially with an impending deadline of Jan. 31.
But with much of the paperwork already prepared by representatives of the Department of Land Conservation and Development, objections faded.
The information could be used not only in land use planning but in other aspects of emergency preparedness and risk reduction, Connell said.
If the grant is awarded, the work may be contracted to a consultant or completed by city staff. “We’ll still have the citizen involvement process and the adoption process so that we’re transparent to get all the input we need,” she said.
Members of the Planning Commission gave their unanimous consent to submit the grant proposal.
“If we don’t get the award, we don’t get the award,” Connell added.