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Rockaway Beach Begins Improvement Program, Sprucing Up the N. Oregon Coast

Published 3/06/24 at 5:15 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Rockaway Beach Begins Improvement Program, Sprucing Up the N. Oregon Coast

(Rockaway Beach, Oregon) – Rockaway Beach has been one of the few Oregon coast towns with a richly-layered historic feel as you drive through it – but not one that's immediately recognizable. It takes maybe a few times to notice: this place has a bit of an Old West look to it in the spryly-painted buildings. There's an interesting vibe of retro yet boldly colorful. (Photos Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

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Now, the City of Rockaway Beach has expanded its tourism grant program and is including a facade improvement effort in its tourism-related funding, announcing last week that some $105,883 had been approved by the city council. These funds will go for upkeep on those buildings, keeping the original architectural lines intact, while also upgrading and buffing them up where needed.

Some of these upgrades include more accessibility, efforts that Visit Tillamook Coast is spearheading all around the county in various ways.

The first round of $102,951 for north Oregon coast businesses went to Beach Bakeshop, Rockaway Snack Shack, Rockaway Mercantile/SAI Design Build, Sand Dollar Restaurant, Trash and Treasures, Upper Crust Pizza and Lakeside Hideaway. A total of $200,000 was set aside for the fiscal year 2023-24.

Some of the fund goes to keeping the beachgoing public safer.

“In addition, a $2,932 marketing grant was awarded to Rockaway Beach Community Education for brochures to inform visitors of safety issues on the beach,” said Visit Tillamook Coast in a press release.

The facade improvement grant was launched in October, 2023 and comes from transient lodging tax. Businesses on the Oregon coast that rely on visitor spending are considered tourism-related facilities, as defined by Oregon Revised Statutes 320.300.

Luke Shepherd, city manager of Rockaway Beach, said this local tourist economy provides funds for city services on which many residents depend.

“By improving our buildings and making them more accessible, we can help build stronger economic development,” he said. “We’re already seeing that in numerous new tourism business investments here.”

Rockaway Beach has been a destination for six generations, originally developed during the early 1900s as several separate little “resorts,” which eventually became one Rockaway Beach. These sprouted up not long after the widely-marketed Bayocean resort to the south, on the spit surrounding Tillamook Bay.

“Other land developers soon joined the Oregon Coast development wave, and when access by railroad became available, Rockaway Beach became a favorite getaway for Portland area families,” said Visit Tillamook Coast. “While Bayocean was sadly swept out to sea after a jetty was built that changed ocean currents, Rockaway has grown into a lively town with seven miles of broad, sandy beach.”

Tillamook Coast Visitors Association (Visit Tillamook Coast) manages the grant programs for Rockaway Beach. For more information, contact Nan Devlin,

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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