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Protecting Hwy 101 or Oregon's Beaches?

The Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) is considering the adoption of a rule related to ocean-fronting, public roads on the Oregon coast. The purpose of this proposed rule change is very specific – to provide an option for public roads and highways, such as State Highway 101, along the oceanfront to alleviate damage from coastal erosion using shoreline armoring. When it comes to seawalls, rip rap and other hardened structures designed to stabilize shoreline erosion, it's generally widely understood in Oregon that these sorts of "armoring" projects do more harm to public beaches than good in protecting, quite often individual's private, property - and it's a matter of public policy (Goal 18) to not allow it on most of the Oregon coast. But with public transportation and safety assets like Hwy 101 at risk w/ sea level rise, increasing erosion and with and few alternatives for retreat, should exceptions be allowed - and if so, how and when? Read on and learn how you can weigh in on this public process!

Seawalls Are Stealing Our Sandy Beaches from Surfrider Foundation on Vimeo.

Currently, under Oregon's State Land Use Goal 18, only certain types of development that existed as of January 1, 1977, are eligible to apply for shoreline armoring permits. “Development” is defined as houses, commercial and industrial buildings, and vacant but improved subdivision lots. Under the current language, roads are not eligible for shoreline armoring, however the new proposed rule would allow for a local government goal exception process to accomplish this through a “reasons exception.” As proposed, a specific “reason” will be added to OAR 660-004-0022 for Statewide Planning Goal 18: Beaches and Dunes to include public highways and roads developed as of January 1, 1977, as eligible for shoreline armoring if a public benefit is demonstrated and the project meets an exception analysis. Surfrider Foundation participated in DLCD's Rulemaking Advisory Committee which held 4 meetings focused on adding new language to the land use goal exception process for these public roadways and creating the option to protect them through shoreline armoring.

While not opposing protection for Highway 101 and other existing public roads, Surfrider Foundation and other conservationist groups are concerned that the proposed new regulations don’t open the door to more development. While Surfrider Foundation does not support shoreline armoring under our Beach Preservation Policy, we are contributing to the best language possible for strong analysis of projects and careful consideration of mitigation standards in the rule update. We have been pleased that to date we have been able to get "NEPA-like" language in the consideration and analysis of alternatives and requirements for beach mitigation, but remain cautious in ensuring this language does not remain too discretionary. It's critical to Surfrider Foundation that "like for like" habitat standards and recreational requirements be considered consistently in project review for mitigation following the strongest possible alternatives analysis.

The Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) is soliciting public comment regarding the rule amendment which you can find here:

A direct link to the draft rule language is here:

How to Comment: You may comment on the proposed rules by

sending written comments by September 22, 2022 to:

Rules Coordinator, Department of Land Conservation & Development
635 Capitol St., Ste. 150
Salem, Oregon 97301
or via email:

Rulemaking Hearing: 

You may also provide oral or written comments at the rulemaking hearing, September 22, 2022 both in-person and virtually via Zoom.

Please contact Esther Johnson, for further information. If you wish to address the commission, please use this form to sign-up:

Date: September 22, 2022
Time: 8:30 am (the meeting begins at 8:30am but this rule adoption hearing will occur in the later afternoon – see meeting agenda for more details)

Place: Grant County Airport, 720 Airport Rd., John Day, Oregon

Additional Geographic testimony location:

Date: August 23, 2022

Time: 4:00pm

Place: Newport Public Library, McEntee Meeting Room, 35 NW Nye St., Newport, Oregon