The year was 1966 and the place was Cannon Beach. Motel owner William Hay took it upon himself to cordon off a section of the sands to call his own in order to secure a patron-friendly area of beach specifically for his hotel. Citizens wasted no time in writing their elected representatives in order to put forth an effort to officially recognize Oregon’s endless miles of beaches as public land. The effort nearly died in the state legislature which spurred action from the top level of Oregon State government.
Dramatic events a year later subsequently ensued which resulted in then Oregon Governor Tom McCall to show up personally, armed with a cadre of surveyors and scientists, as well as lawyers, by helicopter right there on the sandy headlands of Cannon Beach.
The beach is important to me. As it is to many who live and visit here, its in our blood the salty sea and sandy dunes, and even more so to know its collectively ours.
As I write this I am currently reading in the national news about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie taking advantage of his gubernatorial beachfront mansion amidst a state sanctioned shutdown of the beach. The State Park service of New Jersey was forced to shut down the access to the beach, which turned away potential millions of dollars in tourism revenue for the 4th of July holiday weekend. Thus allowing Christie and his ilk to enjoy a visitor-free beach all to themselves.
I honestly cannot think of a more poignant example of what isn’t America than the actions taken by Governor Christie this passed weekend. It is deplorable by any sense of the word and as a citizen of this nation I have to remind folks who aren’t Oregonians exactly how special it is to be one.
We are only part of a handful of coastal states that have publicly owned beaches and if the events in New Jersey are any indicator perhaps its time to shed national light on the concept.
So, Governor Christie, enjoy your unhindered view of the seasonally warm Atlantic Ocean and the ruins of Hurricane Sandy’s Casino Pier rollercoaster, our people’s coast is not your Jersey Shore, because if there’s one thing we North Coast Citizens hold dear is our collective coastline.