The Tillamook County Board of Commissioners voted in a meeting Wednesday, Nov. 4, to send a letter of recommendation to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission regarding vehicle beach access in Tillamook County.
Chief of Staff Rachel Hagerty said the commissioners accepted testimony on the subject from Oct. 5-20. During that time, the commissioners received over 1,000 responses.
“Tillamook County tourism continues to grow rapidly, overloading the county’s ability to manage the increasing number of visitors,” the commissioners wrote in the letter the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD). “The tidal wave of tourists overloads beaches with vehicles and enforcement agencies, like the Tillamook County Sheriff’s Office and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, lack the capacity to patrol.”
The letter stated that the board of commissioners is concerned for residents and visitors when they visit Cape Kiwanda. They request for vehicle beach access to be prohibited from the mouth of Sand Lake Recreation Area south to the Tierra Del Mar beach access area.
“We request the commission provide the county authority to temporarily restrict motorized vehicle access at county-owned beach access points for public safety,” the letter added.
While some of the Pacific City beach access points are temporarily closed during COVID-19, the board continues to support vehicle access in other sections of beaches in the area, specifically at Tierra Del Mar, McPhillips, Pacific City Turnaround and boat launching at Cape Kiwanda.
Commissioner Mary Faith Bell said she appreciates the over 1,000 people who have voiced their opinion on the subject.
“We heard a lot from the hang gliding and paragliding community,” Bell said. “I’ve said this before and I’ll continue to say it, that one of my favorite things about local government is the ability for citizens to participate.”
Commissioner David Yamamoto said this is simply a recommendation from the board of commissioners to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission. The county is only recommending the closure of one area.
“There are so many issues here, public safety probably being the number one issue to me,” Yamamoto said. “Our decision here to ask OPRD to close one beach access point, at Cape Kiwanda, the Dorymen and boat launching needs to continue.”
Yamamoto said the county received a lot of comments from many people. The county is also recommending McPhillips Beach access point to remain open for paragliders and hang gliders. The county has also received a lot of comments from kayakers, as well as the elderly and disabled.
“In keeping the other three access points open, I think it gives all sides what they need and what they want but it allows us to close what I feel is one of the most dangerous beach access points on the Oregon Coast,” Yamamoto said.
Commission Chair Bill Baertlein said the beaches are changing and tourism is changing. As the tourism industry continues to grow, in order to keep the public safe, beach parking needs to be limited.
The Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission will have a public discussion on rules to restrict vehicles on beaches in south Tillamook County near Pacific City and north of Tierra Del Mar at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18. To register, visit http://bit.ly/parkscommissionzoomnovember. Instructions on how to attend the will be available online prior to the meeting at https://www.oregon.gov/oprd/CAC/Pages/CAC-oprc.aspx