Oregon’s south coast already has one village dominated by golf – the rich person’s sport.
Port Orford has been dogged for years by a golf course developer that offers nothing, but demands access to our recycled water. Why did the city ever think approving this was a good idea? Seven years on, it’s looking more dire than ever. It’s time to rethink renewing the conditional use permits for a fifth time when there’s been no progress from one year to the next.
There’s nothing standing in the way of the city council coming to a different decision at the hearing on April 20. The Land Use Board of Appeals said that Port Orford is free to interpret its code as it sees fit. In fact, there’s everything to recommend an about face.
After all, these golfers (like an increasing number of vacation rental owners and managers) don’t even live here. They just want to make money here. Will a golf course completely outside city control be good for us? No. It will be a completely self-contained system, with golfers playing, maybe eating, and then leaving. They even said that quiet part out loud years ago. “You won’t even know we’re here,” said the developer’s representative at a public meeting.
Think about it. Where’s the benefit?
There’s plenty of downside. We have serious water infrastructure problems. The city struggles with governance that is dependent on volunteers. The lack of affordable housing hurts people who already live and work here. Money must go out, but it is not exactly flooding in. And the golf course developer will be getting the recycled water for free, according to an agreement made with a former council.
What You Can Do
Please look at the staff report included below. We’ve extracted it from the council packet, along with the agenda for the council meeting. As of today, Sunday, it is not yet publicly available on the city’s web site.
Don’t be fazed by the volume of detail. The important part starts on page 36 of the packet (page 16 of the PDF below). These are the “findings” that ERPD, the would-be golf course developer, has submitted for the city council to adopt. Technically, these are the only facts that can be considered. Never mind any underlying conditions and problems Port Orford is dealing with? You should mind.
Number 10 of the findings is at the heart of the matter. It says in part that “DEQ approval is still needed.” What it doesn’t say is that ERPD has been dragging out DEQ’s recycled water permit process. They simply have not supplied information needed to complete the permit. This allows them to keep coming back for CUP renewals, implying that they need more time because it’s . . . difficult.
Without the permit, they are “excused” from doing any construction. But we suspect that they just can’t find enough investment even to get started. Maybe that’s because Bandon Dunes is building its seventh course now, and Mike Keiser has his eye on property south of Bandon for yet another golf course. A new Bandon Dunes-style megaplex? Where is the incentive in North Curry to compete with that?
Tell the Port Orford City Council that time is up. Write a letter saying that you want them to deny this extension. They have every right to do so. They should do so. It’s just that simple.
Submit your letter as soon as you can so that the councilors have time to read it, but you have until noon on April 20. See “How to Provide Testimony” in the Appeal Hearing Notice reproduced below. You can also attend the hearing and give oral testimony — or both!
E-mail GMilliman@portorford.org to submit testimony. Gary Milliman is the Interim City Administrator. Jessica Ginsburg is no longer with the city. The main phone number of City Hall is 541-332-3681. The 541-366-4568 number in the notice is for the clerk, but may be more direct.
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