The Tillamook Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) voted unanimously on Oct. 14 to approve fee increases for day use access passes and annual day use access passes in Tillamook County Parks day use areas and boat launches. The fee increases go into effect Jan. 1, 2021.
Fee increases are as follows:
Day use access passes will increase from $4 to $10
Annual day use access passes will increase from $45 to $55
Annual day use access passes will remain $45 for seniors (65 and over), disabled veterans and Oregon Trail Card members
New this year: the Tillamook County Parks department will develop community work party opportunities in 2021, such as a beach or campground clean up, for citizens to participate in a service activity and earn an annual day use access pass.
Tillamook County Commission Chair Bill Baertlein said, “Day use visitors are overwhelming our community and our oceanside attractions particularly in the summer. This year we seemed to have more day use visitors than ever. It is high time we started charging a day use fee in order to pay for the services needed for these folks when they are here, such as bathrooms, parking and garbage collection.”
Tillamook County Commissioner David Yamamoto said that the day use access fees will help fund a position in the Tillamook County Sheriff’s Office.
“The Sheriff’s Office is staffed to serve our population of 26,000 people,” Yamamoto said. “In the summer our numbers grow exponentially, bringing tens of thousands of people to Pacific City alone. We don’t have the resources to provide law enforcement for the number of visitors we have. These new funds will enable us to hire an additional Sheriff’s Office deputy dedicated to work in South Tillamook County, and I feel great about that.”
The board order identifies boat launches and other Tillamook County day use areas where the fees will be charged. Some of the sites have not charged day use fees in the past, such as Cape Kiwanda day use area, Hungry Harbor boat launch at Cape Kiwanda and the Pacific City Turnaround. Revenues generated from these areas will be used in Pacific City to fund the Pacific City Woods Parking Management Plan.
Rachel Hagerty, Tillamook County Chief of Staff, has been working since 2017 on the Pacific City/Woods Parking Management Plan, which will provide parking, pedestrian bike paths, visitor infrastructure and destination management to the community of Pacific City.
“Day use access fees will provide the revenue to bring the community’s vision to fruition,” Hagerty said.
Some Tillamook County boat launches and day use areas outside of Pacific City where access fees will be charged beginning January 2021, were not fee areas previously. These include but are not limited to Barview Jetty Campground day use area, Bayocean Peninsula, Happy Camp beach access and Anderson Hill County Park. Please see the full list in the Tillamook Board of County Commissioners Board Order 20-051 dated Oct. 14, 2020.
Tillamook County Commissioner Mary Faith Bell said, “Increasing our day use access fees for Tillamook County Parks and boat launches will enable us to do the often expensive work necessary to maintain these facilities. For example, currently we have a silted in boat ramp at Memaloose boat launch. Dredging, if we can get the permit, will cost over $200,000. Moving the ramp to deeper water, which would prevent future silt accretion, will cost over $2 million dollars.
“Tillamook County Parks are the jewels of our county, they are extraordinary assets which we need to maintain, and for that, we need revenue. Additionally, we are spending a lot of money to provide service to day use visitors, such as bathrooms and garbage pick up. To date, day use visitors do not contribute to the cost of the services provided to them in any way. The day use access fees are a fair and reasonable way to generate revenue from visitors to our area.”
All three commissioners would have preferred to charge visitors and not local citizens for the new access fees. However, charging some people and not others is discriminatory in the eyes of the law. Therefore, the commissioners chose to increase the day use access fee from $4 to $10, with the assumption that visitors from outside the area will largely purchase the day use access pass.
Locals can purchase an annual day use access pass for $55, or $45 for seniors, disabled veterans and Oregon Trail Card members. The annual pass will be good for all Tillamook County locations during the calendar year.
Bell said, “It is not our intention to monetize locals going to the beach. We understand that there are folks who use Cape Kiwanda beach access, Bayocean Peninsula and Barview Jetty Campground day use area regularly, and have never paid. If we could charge visitors and not locals, we would. We hope that folks who love these areas will get an annual day use access pass or participate in the community work parties to earn an annual pass. Hopefully, the community will see and appreciate the benefits to the outdoor places they love, such as public bathrooms at Bayocean Peninsula, where human waste has become a health hazard.”