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N. Oregon Coast Overcrowding, Trash, Parking Cause State Officials Take Action

Published 08/22//20 at 5:11 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

N. Oregon Coast Overcrowding, Trash, Parking Cause State Officials Take Action

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(Manzanita, Oregon) – The north Oregon coast is in trouble when it comes to overcrowding. Between bursts of overwhelming trash, out-of-control parking issues and visitors being surly and not wearing masks, it’s become an epidemic in the midst of the pandemic. (Photo above courtesy OPRD showing illegal parking issues on the coast)

It’s all enough that state officials are starting to take action. Cannon Beach and Tillamook County (which includes Manzanita, Rockaway Beach, Oceanside and Pacific City) seem to be taking the brunt of it, which includes gobs of trash on beaches and even visitors blocking residents’ driveways. Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) released a statement Friday saying there will be heavier parking enforcement – which will include ticketing and getting towed – along with more resources put towards trash pickup.

There don’t seem to be as many reports coming from farther south in Lincoln County, and at least one southern Oregon coast tourism official told Oregon Coast Beach Connection the area is not experiencing the same kind of overload.

Up north, however, some residents are working behind the scenes to possibly close some areas. They are fed up.

In Tillamook County, Visit Tillamook Coast executive director Nan Devlin is actually asking visitors to stop coming to the beaches for a little while, at least until after summer is over.

“Yes, the weekends have been inundated,” she said. “This is what overtourism looks like. Visitors must rethink trips to the coast: save the visits for later in the year.”

In Cannon Beach, locals and agencies like Haystack Rock Awareness Program (HRAP) have noted excessive garbage on beaches. Volunteers there are picking up bags full of trash every day. One documented incident included a pile of food and drink refuse along with dirty diapers. HRAP volunteers have hauled away excessive masses of stuff, some of it large, such as the frame for a tent simply left on the beach.

At Oceanside and other areas, there have been numerous incidents of visitors parking in front of driveways, blocking residents from their own homes. At Oswald West State Park, it’s a parking free-for-all, with not just a few but lines of cars parked illegally on the side of the highway.

The worst kind of garbage keeps appearing in Tillamook County parks in the forested sections: what are nicknamed TP flowers. Piles of used toilet paper are simply getting left in various corners of greenery.

“But more importantly, the impact on the environment and communities has been big,” Devlin said. “Trash left on the beaches, not burying or cleaning up human waste, illegal and dangerous parking, people from states where masks are not required pushing back on businesses here who have the right to refuse service if a mask is not worn.”

“We all understand the need to get out, breathe fresh salt air of the ocean. We’ve all been cooped up for a long time and feeling uncertain and anxious about many things, including our safety.”

Earlier this month, Oregon Coast Beach Connection ran a story about trash on beaches, but in talking to central Oregon coast officials it seems the problem wasn’t as bad down there. Even Devlin at the time didn’t indicate the magnitude of it all that is now being revealed, and much of that could be that populations simply skyrocketed a bit later. Amid More Trash: Pack Out Your Garbage, Say Oregon Coast Officials

It’s in August when things really got out of control, worsened by the heatwave last week.

What’s the solution? Some visitors are going to get tickets and get their cars towed. The latter is a severe issue you don’t want to encounter while you’re out of town, especially if you come back to your vehicle after dark. There may be no one around to lead you back to your car to retrieve it.

OPRD said it is now working with other state and local agencies to attack the trash and parking issues.

State and county agencies will be doing the following:

Designate safer, legal parking options and advise drivers to keep traveling if parking lots are full. With support from ODOT, more than a dozen new advisory and “No parking” signs will be installed along U.S. 101

Increase restroom and trash services where money and labor are available,

Step up enforcement, ticketing unsafely parked cars and calling for tows at the owner’s expense, where needed.

“If you love the coast, show it,” says Lisa Sumption, OPRD Director. “Take care of it and yourselves with some very simple steps.”

Other guidelines you should follow:

Park only in designated stalls,
Bypassing full parks and going someplace else,
Packing out anything brought in and leaving no trash,
Using restrooms before arriving or after leaving.
Visiting mid-week early in the day

Devlin remains concerned, however.

“Up and down the coast, we’ve asked people to ‘leave no trace’ and warned of limited or no services, such as park closures, no bathrooms available, limited parking, restaurants closed or at half capacity, etc. And visitors keep coming.”

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