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Neighbors fear slide danger

Unpermitted road work has upset neighbors on Yaquina Avenue.  - Courtesy of Yaquina neighbors
Unpermitted road work has upset neighbors on Yaquina Avenue.
— image credit: Courtesy of Yaquina neighbors

The city takes action against a contractor for not having permits.

Once posted, several signs now lie prostrate at the end of Yaquina Avenue.

One indicating nearby shoreline access lies mud splattered beneath a series of orange barricades at the edge of a precipice.

Another – a stop-work order issued by the city – lies toward the shore, at the bottom of the steep drop and atop the remnants of a recent slide.

And although it contains no written message, neighbors say a stretch of newly laid concrete just uphill from the barricades doesn’t merely signal danger – it’s the root of it.

“It’s like putting something on a cornice of snow,” said one Yaquina resident, who did not want her name used.

The woman said she was speaking on behalf of a group of residents worried by recent construction in a neighborhood prone to slides, including one following the heavy rains of early December.

“These slides have drastically diminished back yards, destroyed private stairways and threatened the stability of several remaining waterfront homes,” neighbors said in a written statement. “Given the unstable and environmentally sensitive nature of the area around the Yaquina road end, this construction is somewhat questionable.”

The Yaquina road end was designated by the city as a shore access point, though neighbors say accessing the beach was difficult until private citizens built steps leading to the bulkhead.

The road itself was until recently unpaved, and neighbors contend that the city has done little to maintain it.

Then, earlier this month, came the construction.

City Code Enforce­ment Officer Meghan McKnight issued a stop-work order against the project on Feb. 14.

“The paving and culvert work have not been permitted,” McKnight said via email. “Contact has been made with the property owner who ordered the work to be performed.”

Still, neighbors say the order was ignored, and say they are pursuing a civil infraction against the contractor for alleged failure to heed the order.

It was unclear at press time which of several contractors in the project was responsible.

Development near slopes is regulated by the city’s Critical Areas Ordinance, which aims to ensure built structures don’t compromise the safety of nearby residents or the environment.

Assistant City Engineer Ross Hathaway said he’s seen the beginning stages of the work at Yaquina, though he hasn’t yet done a thorough site investigation because the project didn’t go through the proper protocol.

In general, he said, it’s better to move development away from the edge of slopes than it is to build closer and buttress the hillside.

Hathaway confirmed that the shoreline at Yaquina has a history of slides, but said no plans are in place to stabilize the area.

“It’s been slipping for a long time,” he said. “And there’s been some movement there recently.”

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