The Cove at Port Orford: Vacation Rentals are Sinking Life for Locals

The Cove at Port Orford, as planned

Ground has just been broken for construction of a multi-unit condominium on a bluff overlooking Battle Rock Beach in Port Orford. It will be known as The Cove at Port Orford. The photo shows the designer’s projection of what the buildings (just left of center) will look like in the actual setting. Note that just behind is the OSU Field Station (only the blue roof shows) and to the right are buildings along Hwy. 101 (Redfish, Hawthorne Gallery, and others).

The dark-brown, boxlike structures were originally permitted as a two-story, six-unit vacation rental. At least that’s how it started in PO. The actual construction permits from the county seem to be varying from that. Word has it that now the plan is for five units (one box will combine the two floors), and the original “single-family dwelling” designation has switched to “commercial.” To us, this seems like a substantial change, requiring a different set of requirements and additional scrutiny. Is it happening? Good question.

To many, this project is coming as a complete surprise. When a proposal comes to the city, if it checks all the boxes as a use permitted outright by the zoning codes, then it can be “cleared” by staff without going before planning or the city council. This is an “administrative decision.” Then it goes forward to the county for a full construction review. That happened here.

In the past, PO has found that changes to plans were sometimes made at the county level and not reported back. Result: A built structure that varies from what the city originally allowed – sometimes wildly, and sometimes unlike what was approved. Recently, the process was changed to require keeping the city in the loop. Was it done for these condos? Who knows?

Because Port Orford only recently began considering the regulation of short-term rentals (vacation rentals), this proposal slid in under the wire, evading the current moratorium on new ones. And also, the builder got (when?) a city water connection before the current moratorium on water hook-ups. Pretty neat, right?

We hope this is the last time somebody gets to plunk down such an out-of character monstrosity in our low-key seaside village. And hey, people, can you at least modify the color to blend in better? Everybody who visits the beach or stops to take in the view from the Visitor Center will get an eyeful of your moneymaker. How about a nice gray, or pale blue, or cream, or even yellow? We have to say, that brown just looks crappy.

Below is the Port Orford planning clearance form for the project, located at 251 Fifth Street. Note that the plan may have been revised at the city level. Also, the construction permit issued by Curry County almost certainly will vary, perhaps radically. We hope to have the permit to post in the near future.