Byline: GUEST VIEWPOINT By Allison Asbjornsen For The Register-Guard
An Oct. 9 guest viewpoint by Arnold Buchman criticized the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition for appealing a March 2006 decision by Lane County to amend its Coastal Resource Management Plan to allow riprap at the Shelter Cove subdivision in Florence. We appealed for good reason.
Oregon Shores appealed because there is a real difficulty with riprap on the Siuslaw River, a difficulty that the county and the city of Florence have not been facing. Erosion of the riverbank is a long-standing concern, but the city ignored it in approving development there 15 years ago. The problems will only worsen over time - to the detriment of all homes along the Siuslaw River, not just those at Shelter Cove.
Rivers move over time, and erosion is a natural process. Riprap may stop erosion in one place, but it cannot stop those natural forces. Usually, the end result is to push erosion problems to other locations. There is erosion at Shelter Cove because there is erosion control elsewhere on the river. The Shelter Cove area may benefit from riprap, but the cost is that the problem will simply be pushed elsewhere.
The situation for the Shelter Cove homeowners is regrettable. But how did the situation arise? Erosion is not recent at the site; it has been occurring since the 1930s! At the request of Shelter Cove's developer, the land was rezoned for residential uses in the 1980s, even though the Lane County Comprehensive Plan prohibits residential development of the area.
In 1990, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decided it would not restore the jetty, which had slowed erosion at the site. The corps judged that the cost of restoration would outweigh its benefits because no existing structures were at risk. Only when riprap was already installed should homes be allowed. Nevertheless, Florence approved Shelter Cove in 1991.
Once the subdivision was approved, developers continued to build new homes on the cliff despite the fact that it was continuing to erode. The city did not begin to address the need for erosion control until 2004. …