The Last Low-Hanging Fruit?

Know of any town on the West Coast with vacant ocean view parcels downtown? And low real estate prices? Yes, you do! It’s Port Orford. Or it was. In the last year or so, investors have discovered the town and bought up dozens of properties, some that have been on and off the market since the Great Recession. Now the low-hanging fruit is pretty thin on the tree.

Recently, Port Orford woke up from its nap and began to realize that maybe the city isn’t prepared to deal with the mounting development pressures. How does the city grow and prosper without compromising its core values of liveability, small-town character, and natural beauty? What would sustainable growth look like?

The City Council (CC) decided to address at least some of the issues by considering new building height restrictions. First, the Planning Commission (PC) worked on language for the changes to zoning, then held a virtual hearing on November 10. The commissioners voted 4 to 3 to leave the height requirements as is. This was not the wish or the expectation of the council. At its August 20 meeting ( page 3), CC had directed PC to draft language setting allowable building heights to 25 feet across all zones. And to leave the heights as is was not what the PC had decided at a special meeting on September 29. The minutes of the PC’s meetings on September 29 and October 13 are in the packet for the hearing on November 10.

Next, the City Council held a (virtual) de novo hearing on November 19. The City Planner provided the same staff report to the Council as to Planning, with a cover letter indicating the PC’s decision. The notice and staff report are on the city’s web site. Attachments to the staff report represent written public comments presented for the Planning Commission hearing.

At the hearing before the City Council, there were two hours of public testimony. But the decision was made to continue to accept more comment from the public until Thursday, December 3. No December meeting will be held, and the hearing will continue at the regular meeting in January. If you want your views considered, now is the time to get them on the record. Send emails to: the City Administrator, You might also cc the current mayor at, and the incoming mayor, Or, you may drop off a printed copy at City Hall. Use the box outside, or put it through the mail slot.

Next up: Why the hurry, then the postponement?