Many people think that the old Gorman Motel is the precedent for the proposed Bandon Beach Hotel. The appropriateness of the Gorman’s siting on the Coquille Point Headland has been decided, so the same is true for the hotel that replaces it. Right?
Wrong. The Gorman Motel is not a precedent -- it is a travesty. Its construction made a mockery of Bandon’s building codes, and made a farce of city planning.
Begun in November of 1989, and finished in April of 1990, the Gorman Hotel was constructed start to finish without a building permit. During construction, the City Planning Commission rejected the plans for the motel and denied building permits five times, and never did issue one.
The Commission found that the plans did not conform with Bandon’s land use laws, totally disregarded the 18 conditions on the Conditional Use Permit, and did not even meet basic building code requirements.
The fifth and final time that Planning Commission denied a building permit, it found “as it had since October 26, 1989, that this plan is an attempt to put too much building on too little ground. The effects spill over into the adjacent streets and public areas.”
On May 1st, 1990, City Council President Reed Gallier moved to reverse the Planning Commission’s fifth denial, and approve a building permit along with the 18 conditions required by the Planning Commission. The motion passed 4 to 2, and the Gorman Motel finally received a building permit.
The reason for the lawless urgency to build the motel became clear when, in 1991 and 1992, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acquired all of Coquille Point west of Portland Avenue -- with the exception of two properties: one at Portland and Ninth where a house had been built in 1977, and the other at Portland and Eleventh, where the Gorman Motel had recently opened for business.
The U.S. FWS acquired Coquille Point because of its close proximity to the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. It designated Coquille Point as a buffer zone between the Refuge and the development taking place in Bandon.
The Oregon Islands NWR stretches 320 miles along Oregon’s rugged coastline. More seabirds breed on the Oregon coast than on the coasts of California and Washington combined. Thirteen species of seabirds nest on the more than 1400 islands, rocks and reefs of the Oregon Islands NWR. As bird habitat, these islands and rocks are extremely important.
The rich diversity of species, together with the relative ease of viewing the birds, makes Coquille Point an amazing and unique place. Coquille Point is unquestionably the best seabird viewing site on the west coast of the United States. It is a national treasure.
The Gorman Motel was purchased in 2008 and renamed the Bandon Beach Motel. But, even with a new name, the old Gorman Motel is not a precedent.
The Gorman Motel was built on a slab. The proposed hotel will require excavation for a basement with seven daylight hotel rooms that open out to seven patios and a garden area, all at least 10 feet below ground level — and an elevator shaft that will be at least 10 feet deeper than the basement floor. Below the basement there will be spread footings on concrete blocks that hold the hotel up.
Imagine the excavation required. Imagine the heavy machinery involved, and a fleet of dump trucks hauling away tons of moist sand. Construction will require even more heavy machinery, and a fleet of trucks hauling concrete and building materials. Inevitably, construction will be chaotic, noisy, disturbing, and will spill over beyond the property’s boundaries.
That simplifies the decision making process. Bandon’s Comprehensive Plan, Section 1, Policy 2 Special Policies: Requires no impact on Coquille Point National Wildlife Refuge from development within 100 feet. NO impact. Period.
The City of Bandon has a second chance to do the right thing. It just needs encouragement from citizens who recognize a treasure when they see one.