Coastal residents to out-of-towners: Stay home
Tensions between Oregon Coast residents and out-of-town visitors are boiling over as the state near the one month mark of Gov. Kate Brown's stay at home order. A convoy of exotic cars that made its way through Tillamook County on Easter Sunday is the latest example.
A now-deleted Facebook post in a community group garnered hundreds of comments accusing the group of reckless driving and even harassing a local woman near Netarts. The post spread like wildfire, and by the next day, city and county officials were discussing it during one of their regular phone meetings.
The Sunday incident appears to have begun when a husband and wife were out walking, saw one of the drivers urinating in public, and called the non-emergency line to report it. The wife told KOIN 6 News the dispatcher said they had received a number of calls regarding this group of drivers.
The Tillamook County Sheriff's Office said public urination is not a county enforceable ordinance and added that most if not all public restrooms in the area are closed.
After the first call, the couple began walking again, but within a few minutes, the car group drove up. Authorities said it appeared the couple accused the group of not following the governor's order, then "'flipped them off' and yelled at them to 'go home.'"
The wife disputes the allegation that she and her husband flipped anyone off. But she said they did tell them to go home, then the driver in the front "slammed on his brakes, backed up, put the car in park, and got out of it demanding to know what our problem was." She said the confrontation escalated and that the man threatened her husband, and called her a "300 pound cow" and other insults related to her weight. At one point, she said dispatch called her husband back about their previous call and he put it on speakerphone, which seemed to de-escalate the situation. Eventually the group left.
While deputies did look into the incident, the sheriff's office said no crime occurred that they could prosecute.
Locals have "regularly been frustrated with out-of-towners," Suzanne Weber said. She is only the mayor of the City of Tillamook, but said people in unincorporated areas don't hesitate to send her emails about how many people are parked on the roads, visiting when they shouldn't be.
"Everyone that lives here is watching and they're paying attention and they're noticing the people that don't live here," Weber said. "And it bothers them."
Weber said out-of-town visitors have further annoyed people by cleaning out the grocery stores. Flour, toilet paper and paper towels have been nearly impossible to come by, she said.
"A drive through Tillamook would be fine, but unfortunately they probably shouldn't try to stop and take advantage of the ocean and the beauty," she said, adding, "we're still gonna be here in the summertime."
It will be hard to deter people from traveling to the coast, though.
"As warmer weather has arrived, we have seen increases in visitors to our area and instances of disregard to closed off areas and social distancing requirements," the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office said in a press release.
Most beaches in Oregon are still technically open, but the majority of public access points, such as parks or beach parking lots, are closed. According to Kaety Jacobson, the Lincoln County commission chair, people are not allowed to walk around barriers.
Deputies there will monitor popular areas and "may take enforcement action against individuals and groups refusing to comply" with the state and local orders, according to the sheriff's office.
KOIN 6 News is a Portland Tribune news partner.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.