On Aug 26, the Board of Commissioners unanimously decided to reopen the Tierra Del Mar beach to vehicle access. Without adequate planning or resources for enforcement support, the reopening has resulted in unsafe conditions day and night for residents and visitors alike. This decision needs to be reversed.
In reaching their decision, the Commissioners acknowledged that enforcement support from the Sheriff’s office and OPRD rangers would be limited due to staffing shortages. As we have experienced since the reopening August 28, and especially throughout the holiday weekend, the only deterrent to prohibited vehicle use north of the beach access point, is stationing a patrol officer at the boundary. We have had that resource only sporadically; while effective when in place, this is a poor use of limited patrol resources. Once gone, drivers continue to ignore the only sign, see all the other vehicle tracks and cruise north. Some get stuck in the sand; some move when approached by Beach Patrol volunteers; others park, unload their dogs and kids and put out the lawn chairs.
We have watched scores of rowdy and impatient drivers (some alcohol-emboldened) drive unsafely and recklessly. We have watched vehicles get stuck in the sand with a succession of Good Samaritans that get stuck trying to assist them. We have watched little children dart out as vehicles cruise by or back up unexpectedly. We have watched as birds are chased and drivers spin out, apparently just to watch the sand spray fly. The newly placed porta-potties were a welcome relief but overflowing before the holiday weekend was over.
In conjunction with deciding to reopen the Tierra Del Mar beach, the Commissioners announced they would be keeping the Pacific City beaches closed to vehicle traffic, except for dory fleet activities. As a Pacific City resident, Commissioner Yamamoto spoke of listening to other Pacific City residents on how enjoyable the beach was without vehicle traffic. We in Tierra Del Mar deserve the same consideration and responsiveness.
These are difficult and challenging times for us all. We want our public beaches to be safely enjoyed. Closing the Tierra Del Mar beach to vehicle access is a needed step in the right direction. Reopening should only be considered when adequate support resources have been identified. At a minimum that could include improved grading of the entrance access point off Sandlake Road, clearer signage and barriers placed on the beach, citations with posted information on fines, creating a fee system that covers the costs of assigning a full-time on-site patrol officer, and thoughtful engagement with the local community.
Tierra Del Mar
NOTE: Tierra Del Mar residents organized a “Beach Watch” program and have posted photos of the various violations here: