I watched the livestream of the workshop yesterday and want to thank the Mayor and Council for moving forward with the moratorium on dune grading for now. In case you weren’t able to attend you can listen to the audio on the City Council website. I felt like the applicant didn’t address the reason so many people are concerned and I was glad all our City representatives stood behind the process necessary to update our Plan, our Fore Dune Management Plan and our Ordinances before moving forward.
I think Councilman Spegman was correct in his assessment that people are concerned with unnecessary grading for ocean views, not with grading for safe access. However, Mr. Reimann’s letter as president of the DMA and his original application to OPRD identified ocean views and property values as the main reasons to grade, not safety. OPRD didn’t find significant safety concerns that allowed for grading at the location. But the workshop presentation yesterday, focused mostly on safety and not what the application actually requested–view grading.
Everyone wants people to be safe on our beaches. More education and increased signage alerting visitors to the dangers of the ocean might improve safety at main access points. There will always be some people who will get in trouble no matter what we do, but you can’t fix that.
As a person with a physical disability that sometimes limits my ability to get around, I appreciated Sandy Wood’s comments about beach safety, access and common sense. The ocean is dangerous but to some people, it’s a theme park. You have to use common sense. My mom grew up in Marshfield on the south coast so I learned early on to never turn my back on the ocean, to always have a way out and to know the tides.
I noted with interest that Mr. Horner spoke about past grading practices actually being the cause of the cliffs that have formed because dune sand was left closer to shore.
What we don’t know about cause and effect in nature is actually quite a lot. Even a professional with years of experience can cause unintended consequences by interfering in things we don’t necessarily understand as well as we think we do. There are too many instances where we think we’re solving a problem and really we’re just making a new one.
I don’t remember which Councilmember asked about how a tsunami would impact the dunes but I recall when Dr. Jonathan Allen spoke to council at a previous workshop. He cited new research that shows how dunes can mitigate tsunamis and flood impact from storm surge. I’d like to know more about that.
When Councilmember Nuttall asked about sand movement post grading, Mr. Horner suspected that most dune sand washed away pretty quickly but wasn’t sure how much sand remained behind or where it went. He talked about how the grasses can pop up in new places making new dunes for other neighbors. He also didn’t address the impact of habitat loss or protection of intertidal sea life like razor clams from cubic yards of sand dumped on top of the sand floor or ploughed under but that’s not his area of expertise. I hope as part of the research we can learn more about the impact on wildlife from someone who does.
I’m glad we’re taking the time to do things in order and check all our boxes so that our ducks line up–the Comprehensive Plan, the Ordinances and the Fore Dune Management Plan are the documents that will help us manage growth and solve some of the troubles we’ve come up against. None of us will ever get our way completely or every time but that’s not what living in a community is about.
Fred Rogers once said, “Out of difference can come the reinforcement of two important values. One is tolerance and the other is awareness that people who disagree over the things they hold dear really can live together in love and respect.”