A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Let state open access to Oregon beaches

Written April 29th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

The coastal wind blew my bike down. Hope the towing threat applies only to motor vehicles.

The beaches closest to Albany on the central coast were devoid of people Wednesday, probably because it rained but also because the access points controlled by the state parks department remained officially closed.

On Tuesday the state announced that parks, trails and beach access points, closed since March 23, would remain closed beyond May 8, which apparently had been the target date for opening them up. Now they’re talking extending the closures for the rest of May.

The beaches themselves are open, but what good does that do when you can’t get to them? And posting the waysides and parks to reach them as “closed” makes no sense because it doesn’t promote the social distancing we’re supposed to observe. It does the opposite, keeping people crammed together wherever else they go to get outside, or to shop.

The beach in Yachats was even more empty Wednesday than usual.

Keeping our distance from other people is nowhere more easily done than on Oregon beaches, which as we all know (and sometimes regret, remembering our youth) bear no resemblance to the sun-drenched fleshpots of Huntington Beach, or even Zuma in the fog.

Officials have roped off popular parking spots on the coast, where once you would have people sitting in their cars staring at the surf, for relaxation perhaps, or maybe just to get away from their troubles for an hour or so.

Instead of discouraging trips to the coast, the governor and her helpers should and could have told people in the valley something like this:

“In the interest of social distancing to keep the virus from spreading, get in your car and take a drive to the coast. We need the gas tax. When you get there, grab some take-out where available. The restaurants that are open need the business.

“Then go sit in your rig and watch the gulls and the waves. When you’re done, how about a long walk on the nearest beach. It will do you good. And then, get back in the car, buy some gas if you need it and drive back home. Remember, without enough gas tax money ODOT can’t fix roads.”

If it’s OK to crowd into a supermarket to fend off starvation it should be even more OK to access a wide-open beach for your enjoyment or mental health. Which is kind of what I’m trying to get across in the video below. (hh)

30 responses to “Let state open access to Oregon beaches”

  1. Dustin says:

    If we open the beaches that means everybody would flock here guess what those people go to eat guess what those people go to stem spend the night we have a 45% residency over 60 year old people they don’t want to take any risks on the community

  2. Kevin Berger says:

    I I truly believe that closing off parking lot to access the beaches is against our rights there is no true law that states that we r breaking the laws if we park n walk on the beach its good for the human body to see nature at its finest

  3. Trrri wilson says:

    Do not plan to use public restrooms as they are closed.
    Take your trash home too, as there is no one to empty garbage cans in public places.

  4. Adriana says:

    Our beaches were inundated after Brown’s initial “stay home, stay safe” order. Trust me when I say there was NO social distancing that weekend. Coastal residents were apoplectic. All Oregon State Parks were closed soon after, and all vacation lodging in Lincoln County was shut down. Our county has 50,000 residents and a grand total of 10 ICU beds. I am so tired of hearing the words you are saying, parroted all over by people who grow weary of restrictions. This county has 5 positive COVID-19 cases, while Benton County has 29 and Linn county has 81 (currently).

    Many state parks are in rural areas, and rural areas are generally not equipped with adequate medical facilities to handle an influx of COVID-19 patients. I’m sure you already know this, just as I’m sure you are aware that social distancing is meant to flatten the curve so medical personnel are not overwhelmed, as they are in New York. The tired argument about Oregon not having a lot of cases so we should relax social distancing makes me want to scream. Our current measures are EXACTLY why we are not being overrun.

    If people could only visit as you are suggesting. But they don’t, masses of them show up, use facilities, wipe out our grocery shelves, and touch, touch, touch everything as they go along. If the situation were reversed, and your Linn County had 5 confirmed cases of COVID-19 while Lincoln County had 81, and there were beautiful state parks all over your county, would you want US to come THERE?

    These restrictions are not meant to be punitive, but there sure are a lot of folk that seem to think so. You think we don’t want our beaches open? That we are somehow reveling in the lack of tourist dollars? The ocean and the beaches will always be here.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      Very well stated!

    • Jordan says:

      I 100% agree with everything you are saying. I live in Seaside, and the weekend after Brown’s “stay home, save lives” order, our beaches and downtown were crammed with people wanting to “get away from the virus”. They flocked to the town and proceeded to take no precaution to the people who live here. Our Mayor had to shut down the beaches and stop all short term rentals, in conjunction with the County.

      We only have had 6 cases up here, but I know that number will skyrocket once people start coming to the beach from surrounding areas. Our hospitals are not big enough, nor have enough staff, to accommodate a huge influx of cases.

      People do not understand that cramming a bunch of people into a beach town does more damage to the community than helping.

      Stay away from the beaches, stay at home, help prevent the spread to other places.

    • centrist says:

      Nicely stated.
      It seems that folks who like to say “overreach” and “sheeple” don’t recognize the safe boundaries of others.
      50-odd years ago fishing and timber were the primary sources of coastal income. Tourism was an undependable source, thought by many to have no net income. A joke among some full-timers ran something like “If there’s a tourist season, why isn’t there a bag limit?”

    • Josh F Mason says:

      Very well stated and thank you for re-stating this for the hundredth time. Everyday, pandemic or not, we all have an opportunity to gain something meaningful and useful by learn something new. This can be as easy (or as arduous) as seeing something from a different point of view. Beyond the act of seeing this typically requires thinking and taking a step back from your default point of view in order to fully get your head around a different perspective.

  5. Kathy Rogers says:

    Thank you Hasso for speaking truth to power. Members of my family legally went crabbing, in a boat, off the coast over the weekend but they had to drag and carry the boat to the water because the ramps were closed…what is the justification for such nonsensical rules?

  6. Jim says:

    The same ideas with the forest that Oregon State University control, I been to Lewisburg saddle on a weekend when the parking lots have been full, but the forest road are so many, you still are not going to spread any virus,. Rather then have the people crowding into the few spots that are open. And all the national forest that are not available, it is silly. Since the big crowd at the beach on spring break, how many cases of the virus have the beach counties had?

  7. HowlingCicada says:

    The first 20 seconds of the video really grabbed my attention — the background in the right-hand side of the screen with the trees in the fog and the cluster of slightly unusual, beautiful, modern houses with not a car in sight.

    With the help of Bing maps and a screwed-up Zillow page, I managed to find the exact spot. Those houses are smallish with tiny lots, fairly new, and ungodly expensive. And they’re all in the tsunami evacuation zone, some of them in the “distant” zone, which, along with the beach, must be a really bad place to be when it happens. The view from Hwy 101 is far less inspiring.

    Oh, by the way, at least for Wednesday in the rain and fog, I agree with your statement; might think differently when the sun returns and the beach looks appealing to everyone else (and repulsive to me) — the way it was on the weekend that led to the shutdown.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      Having had a vacation home in Yachats for 25 years (now sold), Hasso’s statement: “The beach in Yachats was even more empty Wednesday than usual.” is a definitely an understatement. Vast-vast majority of the time when we were there during mid-week (even in good weather), one could shoot cannons up/down the beach and not hit a soul….

      If you need to get out & get some sun, walk around your own neighborhood. You’ll find a minimal number of folks doing same. I live in a “neighborhood” bounded by LBCC to the south, 53rd to the north, and Pacific Hwy to the east. Very easy to get in 8-10 mile daily walks…

  8. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Typical government overreach – use a meat ax to solve a problem that demands a scalpel.

    Oregon’s government needs the public’s cooperation to reduce the risk of the virus. They won’t get it by swinging an unscientific meat ax.

    Civil disobedience is good for the soul. Go to the coast. Stick your toes in the water. It’s for the greater good.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      And if you can supply Oregon all the tools necessary to create that “scalpel,” I might agree with you. Until then, and as the folks who live on the coast have rightly stated), folks should stay in their own town..

      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        The scalpel is not hard to figure out.

        When properly understood, the underlying premise is easy – the virus is a big threat to a very small percentage of the population. And most of these folks are out of the workforce. The virus is a very small threat to most of the population. And most of these folks are (or were) gainfully employed.

        Shouldn’t these facts inform the Gov’s policy? A one-size-fits all, meat ax, solution serves no one. It simply reinforces fear and tanks the economy.

        A better solution is one based on data and logic, i.e., a precise approach that protects the most vulnerable from a health risk and the least vulnerable from economic catastrophe.

        All it takes is common sense, something sorely lacking at every level of government today.

        • Ray Kopczynski says:

          Yes, the scalpel is very easy to figure out. However, we very fundamentally disagree as to what that is.

          When “we” (any community-state) has enough testing equipment and a functioning and readily available vaccine – that and only then will I say we do have a “scalpel.” Until then, your idea of what constitutes common sense will factually endanger more people – period.

        • Jordan says:

          You make pretty big implications for a lot of people that are vastly incorrect. You state that the virus is only a big threat to a small amount of people, who are out of the workforce. This is very incorrect. There are many people who are have other diseases since birth that are currently working in stores and are “essential” workers. They are facing this virus every day, just like everybody else, because they are not able to just lock themselves away until this is over.

          Taking a “meat ax” approach to a virus that is very dangerous and deadly, which is showing new symptoms and new dangers, is the best choice to protect all people. If the virus doesn’t have the same damaging effects on everybody, those people still need to protect others who might have the worst outcome of the virus. Shutting down areas that gather a giant amount of people to help prevent the spread of this disease to different locations is the best way to contain the virus into a more manageable situation. If Seaside only has 10 ventilators, and only 3 are being used, that leaves enough emergency space for a small outbreak. If that number increases for 3 to 30 within a weekend due to people from all over Oregon and southern Washington vacationing in our small town, our hospital would be unable to help many people. This would require the remaining 20 people to be rushed to Portland (a hour and a half drive), and hope that Portland has enough room for them.

          I’m glad you are well enough to be able to enjoy the life outside, and I want people to come visit this amazing town, but don’t come here with a deadly virus and simply wait until everything gets better. The beaches and ocean aren’t going anywhere.

  9. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    The type of ban in your story makes as much sense as the Governor’s shuttering of publicly funded online academies.

    Oregon has blocked students who want to transfer to online charter schools during the shut down.

    Why do so many Oregonians supinely accept such “orders”?



  10. Al Nyman says:

    You social distancing nuts are just that-nuts. New York has over 5 million daily subway riders month after month after month and they never shutdown mass transit and that doesn’t include buses and trains. If you look at New York statistics and they are undoubtedly wrong because the vast majority of people with the virus show no symptoms, the fact is a very small number of those subway riders ended up in hospitals with the Wuhan virus.

  11. Lundy says:

    Hasso, you are spot on. Someday historians will look back at “this is what they wanted to accomplish” and “these were the actions government took in pursuit of those goals” and will wonder how anyone thought the actions were in line with the goals.

  12. Brad says:

    Please get rid of the earwax ad off your site. I can’t see that again. I just can’t.

  13. Bob Zybach says:

    Thanks Hasso! This mandated house arrest order and shut down of schools, churches, private businesses, public parks and beaches is nuts and more than a little concerning. I still have not met anyone in Cottage Grove or Coos Bay that knows of even one person who has contacted coronavirus. I know lots of people that have been forced to quit their jobs amidst the dozens of shuttered businesses in both communities. There is no excuse for this government overreach, other than a demonstration of how Governors are able to flex their political powers over the rest of us with scare stories. Maybe this is good practice for if we ever really do have a deadly pandemic threatening our citizens, but it is also good practice for elected officials to demonstrate how much power they can have over our individual lives. Check out the modeled projections from a month ago and compare them to the actual statistics this month. This is how a police state gains momentum and even some credibility according to a number of your commenters. In my opinion.

  14. Jerry Boydston says:

    Bob, I agree with you in respect to not knowing anyone with the virus. But that is mostly due to the shutdown and the other precautions we have been doing. It may not be a super deadly virus unless you have other health related complications. And all you have to do is walk down the street to see the morbidly obese,diabetic people that would croak in a few days after contracting this disease. And then there all the elderly, veterans and other handicapped people living in tight quarters that are at a big risk.
    It’s not a police state. And if you take a look at the restrictions in this country from the 1918 pandemic you’ll see it was even more restricted then (once they realized how bad it really was).


HH Today: A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley
Albany Albany City Council Albany council Albany downtown Albany Fire Department Albany housing Albany parks Albany Planning Commission Albany police Albany Post Office Albany Public Works Albany riverfront Albany schools Albany Station Albany streets Albany traffic Albany urban renewal apartments ARA Benton County bicycling bike lanes Bowman Park Bryant Park Calapooia River CARA climate change COVID-19 Cox Creek Cox Creek path Crocker Lane cumberland church cycling Dave Clark Path DEQ downtown Albany Edgewater Village Ellsworth Street bridge Highway 20 homeless housing Interstate 5 land use Linn County Millersburg Monteith Riverpark North Albany ODOT Oregon legislature Pacific Power Portland & Western Queen Avenue Republic Services Riverside Drive Santiam Canal Scott Lepman Talking Water Gardens The Banks Tom Cordier Union Pacific urban renewal Water Avenue Waterfront Project Waverly Lake Willamette River

Copyright 2024. All Rights Reserved. Hasso Hering.
Website Serviced by Santiam Communications
Hasso Hering