The extended closure of two drive-on beach access points in Lincoln City has sparked a conversation among residents and tourists, some for and some against driving on the beach.
Some residents have expressed concern about Resolution 2021-34, saying if the City can make the decision to restrict access to a public park (beach), then what is to stop them from restricting access to other state lands. Others are for the move, saying closing the beach to vehicles is the right thing to do and should be made permanent.
Interim City Manager Lila Bradley said she was contacted by Lincoln City Police on June 28, alerting her to a problem arising from 100-200 vehicles on the beach at the NW 15th Street drive on beach access. The issue stemmed from a historic Pacific Northwest heat wave that packed beaches. Bradley said emergency services could not get through and tow trucks were having problems pulling stuck vehicles out as the high tide came in.
Initially, the council voted to close the beach access at 15th Street, adding in 34th Street in case vehicles went there instead. An extension of the resolution was recently passed to keep the closures for another two months until Sept 7.
Councilors Rick Mark and Anne Marie Skinner both said they were against vehicles on the beach at any point, with Skinner saying the City should close the access points until the end of summer.
City Attorney Richard Appicello said intergovernmental cooperation was needed as Oregon State Parks controls the beaches and the City controls the streets leading to the beach. Skinner said having vehicles on the beach at 15th Street is a safety issue and that nobody follows the rules. She wanted the City to immediately start a dialogue with Oregon State Parks, something echoed by other councilors and Mayor Susan Wahlke.
Lincoln City Police Lt. David Broderick came before the council and said his department does not have the staff or resources to deal with problems arising from all the vehicles on the beach at NW 15th Street. Broderick said approximately 16-20 citations were handed out leading up to the closure.
“It’s a dire safety situation at this point,” Broderick said.
Councilor Mitch Parsons said he’s received “dozens upon dozens” of requests over the years to stop vehicles on the beach.
“It all comes down to enforcement,” Parsons said. “If State Parks won’t provide additional resources and LCPD doesn’t have the resources, then we have to act. It’s a matter of keeping the public safe.”
Oregon State Parks officials said:
“The beach rule allowing vehicles is still in effect, but a temporary closure for safety is allowed by those rules and the city let us know what they were doing and why.”
Barricades have been erected at the access points and the City Council will decide what happens next at a future meeting prior to when the closures expire on Sept. 7.