Coastal Risks and Land Use Policy Create Economic Tradeoffs for Armoring the Oregon Coast


An Oregon land use policy creates a large economic value for some private homeowners who are allowed to protect their shoreline against erosion, according to a new Oregon State University study.

The research directly informs policy on a contentious issue on the Oregon coast – the tradeoff between a homeowner’s ability to protect their private property and public access to Oregon’s beaches, said Steven Dundas, corresponding author and economist in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station.

The study, published in the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, also comes at a time when the future of coastal management in Oregon is up for discussion given the threats of sea-level rise due to climate change.

Oregon’s Statewide Land Use Planning Goals inform mandatory and comprehensive land-use plans at the local level. Goal 18 sets rules for protecting beaches and dunes from development and reducing impacts from natural hazards, including a prohibition on “armoring” private property. Armoring the shoreline with sloped structures composed of large rocks slows down erosion on that property – but it has potential to change sediment flows, redirects wave action, and disrupts recreation access and aesthetics.  

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