Tag: Oregon Partnership for Disaster Resilience (OPDR)

Planting the Seeds of Change

By Madi Pluss

The sun is shining, the days grow longer, and all around Oregon small flowers are emerging. The grey and overcast landscape is now painted with faint traces of pastels. Out of the cold slumbering soil, small flower buds reach to feel the warmth. As the seasons shift and life awakens from weeks in dormant dark winter, the Tillamook Code Review also begins to blossom.

At the start of the season, the gardener plans their plot. They study the almanac and determine which plants will fare well, which crops will be the most fruitful, and what will yield the most success. For the past 8 weeks, our project has also been in the formative phase of development. Underground, we were collecting data, conceptualizing, reading, discussing, and compiling an extensive library of strategies. We began with only small seeds of knowledge, barely even able to find Tillamook County on a map. Guided by our seasoned project advisor, we were challenged by unfamiliar practices, ordinances, and code language. We dug deep to establish our approach and determine the priority hazards. The early months were a time where we defined our scope of work, determined a focus of research, and established the landscape for our final deliverable.

We are at the point in our project where the roots are embedded, our concepts are taking hold, and analysis is making its first appearance. Our project advisor, Michael Howard, has taken a step back in our meetings, communication with the client, and overall planning process, which is giving us space to grow on our own. This is the time where the strongest concepts will thrive and we will weed out the weaker elements of the project. As we write case studies, we acknowledge what is truly feasible.

Looking forward, our work will come to fruition and the fruits of our labor will be revealed. On the 6th of April, we will be participating a joint meeting, along with the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, and Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries. We will brief the Tillamook County Board of County Commissioners, Planning Commission, and other important individuals involved with natural hazard mitigation and resilience in Tillamook County about the Risk MAP program and our code review work. Like a sprout reaching for the sun, we will reach out to the participants and share our methodology, suggestions, proposed strategies, and foreseen implications. After this introductory meeting, we will meet with the Planning Commission and provide more in-depth code review.  Their suggestions and input act as the fertilization that will be integrated and will help us glean the most pertinent techniques appropriate for Tillamook County. As the term ends, we will harvest recommendations out of the strongest reviews and we will produce the deliverable that will serve as an essential component for improved hazard mitigation code for Tillamook County.

Madi Pluss

Madi Pluss                      
Born and raised in Colorado, mountains and outdoor recreation has always been a big part of my life, and out of reverence for natural processes and events, I recognize the need to mitigate hazards and protect human livelihood. In the future, I would like to focus on addressing issues related to growth and development, and mitigating natural hazard for highly urbanized areas. In my free time, you can find me in the yoga studio, supporting local music, or enjoying a good coffee. I am very excited to be working on this project and look forward to gaining a stronger understanding of code review and the planning process.


The Land of Trees, Cheese, the Ocean Breeze, and Natural Hazards

By Ethan Lockwood

Tillamook County may be best known for its trees, cheese, and ocean breeze–but it also home to significant natural hazards. The county’s stunningly beautiful coastline has long attracted housing and development that takes advantage of the gorgeous views, remote settings, and remarkable topography. Yet, natural hazards are also an inescapable reality of the Oregon coast.

Landslides, coastal erosion, tsunamis, and dune migration pose serious risk to coastal development. The county has a long history of natural hazard events, coastal erosion and landslides in particular, that have caused significant damage to infrastructure and property while posing a safety risk to residents. Mitigating the risk of natural hazards to new development is a current priority of the county. To help achieve this, graduate students in the Community Planning Workshop are developing a toolbox of regulatory and non-regulatory natural hazard mitigation approaches for the county.

Image Source: http://www.kptv.com/story/30730358/flooding-causes-major-structural-concern-in-tillamook

Development codes are a tool used by communities and counties to regulate where what type of development can occur. Diverse and ongoing natural hazard planning has occurred throughout the county detailing the severity and location of natural hazard risk, but stronger incorporation of this information into the County Development Code is needed to best protect future development. From geological site reports and safest building site selection to dune vegetation protection to prevent erosion, a diversity of regulations and tools are under consideration.

Through the creation of development code case studies and research on best practices, this graduate student team lead by Michael Howard, Assistant Program Director of the Community Service Center, will help to ensure that the trees, cheese, and ocean breeze of Tillamook County can be safely enjoyed for years to come.

This project is funded through a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant. The University of Oregon’s Community Service Center’s (CSC) Oregon Partnership for Disaster Resilience (OPDR) was invited by FEMA to become a Cooperating Technical Partner under the FEMA Risk MAP program. This project is occurring with cooperation and consultation with Tillamook County staff, Planning Commission, and the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC).


Ethan Lockwood is pursuing a masters in Community and Regional Planning at the University of Oregon. While not studying open space, parks, and land preservation he can be found on the local singletrack trails hiking, running, and skiing as much as grad school allows.