Policy Backdrop of the Oregon Coast

Our SEED project and subsequent conversations with our Advisory Council members have highlighted the need for examining individual land use policies at both the county and state level. Policies that will be evaluated within our proposed framework include but are not limited to Statewide Planning Goal 18 and county-level tsunami hazard zone overlays.

Goal 18

The Oregon Statewide Planning Goals that provide comprehensive plans and land use regulations for coastal communities are: Goal 16 for estuaries, Goal 17 for coastal shorelands, and Goal 18 for beaches and dunes. Goal 18 designates which parcels are eligible to install shoreline armoring [1]. Shoreline armoring eligibility is restricted to parcels where development existed prior to 1977. Goal 18 focuses on conserving and protecting Oregon's beach and dune resources by limiting shoreline armoring and resulting beach erosion and loss of beach access.

Goal 18 eligibility and the existence of shoreline protective structures represent safety amenities for oceanfront properties. Our proposed analyses will combine state-of-the-art chronic hazard modeling with econometric models estimating housing market responses to Goal 18 eligibility [2] and the influential drivers of armoring decisions [3] to produce future policy visualizations.

Tsunami inundation zones and hazard zone overlays

Statewide tsunami inundation zones and evacuation maps have been produced by the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) since 1994. Senate Bill 379 established a single tsunami inundation line in 1995, also known as “SB 379,” which represented the best estimate of tsunami inundation from a typical or most likely Cascadia earthquake at the time [4]. The SB 379 line was in use for official tsunami evacuation brochures and signage until 2013 when DOGAMI released a new series of tsunami inundation maps for a Cascadia earthquake [5]. The 2013 tsunami inundation map series TIM Plate 1 was derived using systematic, Oregon-coast-wide models of tsunami inundation for five scenarios (SM, M, L, XL, and XXL) that represent the full range of severity of past and expected tsunamis. The XXL scenario of the 2013 TIM series is the basis for official Oregon tsunami evacuation maps and signage.

Adoption of tsunami hazard zone overlays, one of the policy recommendations of the Oregon Resilience Plan, may limit the extent and type of new development in hazard zones and could require existing developments to make structural upgrades such as adopting ASCE 7-16 tsunami design standards [6,7]. Our aim is to understand the economic, social, and environmental costs and benefits of establishing hazard zone overlays and other mitigation measures recommended in the Oregon Resilience Plan.

Economic Backdrop of the Oregon Coast

North and south coast economies

The three county detailed study area of the northern Oregon coast includes Clatsop, Tillamook, and Lincoln counties. All three counties are rural with population and housing concentrated primarily in small coastal towns. These towns are connected by the Oregon Coast Highway 101 and are separated from the more populous Willamette Valley by the Oregon Coast Range and Siuslaw National Forest. Oregon’s Office of Economic Analysis (OEA) groups these counties as a regional “North Coast” economy. This economy has an agricultural base but also specializes in fishing (representing 62% of statewide commercial fishing value), dairy products (in Tillamook County specifically), and timber (mostly logging) [8]. Travel and tourism are also important regional industries since much of the region is easily accessible (via a 1-1.5 hour drive) from the state’s largest population bases in the Willamette Valley. Fishing, tourism, dairy production, timber, and agriculture are the region’s top industries.

In comparison, the southern coast economy of Coos, Curry, and Douglas counties heavily depend on forestry and wood products as well as fishing and tourism on the coast [9]. The southern coast has some other competitive industries but lacks economic diversity which, coupled with negative employment trends in its most important industry – wood products – has led to a decrease of 6.5 percent between 2005 and 2015 in private sector employment, the most of any region in the state [9].


[1] Department of Land Conservation & Development, n.d. Goal 18: Beaches and Dunes. URL https://www.oregon.gov/lcd/OP/Pages/Goal-18.aspx.

[2] Dundas, S., and Lewis, D.J., in prep. Estimating Option Values and Spillover Damages from Coastal Protection.

[3] Beasley, W.J. and Dundas, S.J., in prep. Holding the Line: Identifying the determinants of shoreline armoring on the Oregon coast.

[4] DOGAMI, n.d. Tsunami Regulatory Maps (Oregon Senate Bill 379) for the State of Oregon. URL https://www.oregongeology.org/tsuclearinghouse/pubs-regmaps.htm.

[5] DOGAMI, n.d. Tsunami Inundation Map (TIM) Series. URL https://www.oregongeology.org/pubs/tim/p-TIM-overview.htm.

[6] Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission (OSSPAC), 2013. The Oregon Resilience Plan, Reducing risk and improving recovery for the next Cascadia earthquake and tsunami, report to the 77th Legislative Assembly, 306pp.

[7] Burby, R.J., Deyle, R.E., Godschalk, D.R., Olshansky, R.B., 2000. Creating Hazard Resilient Communities Through Land-Use Planning. Natural Hazards Review, 1(2): 99-106.

[8] Lehner, J., 2014. Oregon’s North Coast. Oregon Office of Economic Analysis. URL https://oregoneconomicanalysis.com/2014/06/04/oregons-north-coast/.

[9] Meyers, M., Cuyler, J., 2016. Regional Competitive Industry Analysis: Coos, Curry, and Douglas Counties (Regional Economic Profile). Business Oregon.

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