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Oregon history: 50 years on, celebrate the Beach Bill that kept our beaches public

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May 13th, 1967 was an important day in Oregon's history. It's the day Governor Tom McCall staged a dramatic media event that ultimately led to the passage of the Beach Bill, assuring that Oregon's beaches would remain open to the public. (More on that slice of history later.)

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of that historic day, Cannon Beach is hosting a huge, free party on Saturday, May 13. Festivities include sandcastle building, live music, hiking tours, puffin watching, beer from Public Coast Brewing and a lot more. The night ends with a bonfire and free s'mores outside the Surfsand Resort.

A highlight? Governor Tom McCall's son, Tad, is flying in from Boston to speak! All the fun starts at 7 a.m. on Saturday in Cannon Beach.

Looking ahead to July 6, the anniversary of the signing of the Oregon Beach Bill, Public Coast Brewing is releasing its People's Pale Ale, the people's pale for the people's coast. It will be 100 percent Oregon-made.

Below, read the Associated Press wire story written and published back in 1967 regarding the passage of the Beach Bill a half century ago. (Note the line about sending a telegram!)

Beach Bill Signed; McCall Clears His Desk

By Matt Kramer, Associated Press Writer

Gov. Tom McCall signed the beach bill into law Thursday and declared it "a momentous accomplishment of the 1967 Legislative session."

"It is one of the most far-reaching measures of its kind enacted by any legislative body in the nation. This bill guarantees that Oregon's coastline will remain secure for generation s to come," the Governor said.

The Governor cleared his desk of legislative bills, signing 43 and vetoing 2. This action came just 24 hours before the deadline in which he could sign bills into law. The two vetoes were minor bills.

'Forced Out' for Action

McCall took note that the beach bill almost died in the House Highways Committee. He said it was forced out only because the news media and then the public demanded it.

The governor praised the efforts of the bill's supporters, include Rep. Sidney Bazett, R-Grants Pass, committee chairman who almost alone kept the bill alive for weeks until support finally formed, and of Rep. Norman Howard, D-Portland, committee vice chairman.

Howard was on hand for the signing. Bazett, unable to attend, sent a telegram saying that the governor's support was vital to the bill's eventual success.

Property Rights Issue

Opponents of the bill contended it would violate private property rights. Supporters said it did not affect those rights, but preserved the sands for public use.

The bill designates the State Highway Department to represent the public in cases where property rights are at stake on the beaches. It also zones the beaches so that anyone wanting to building on the bare sands must get a permit from the state.

The measure carried an emergency clause and so went into effect at once.

[From Kramer, M. (July 7, 1967). "Beach bill signed; McCall clears his desk." Oregon Statesman. Salem, Oregon: Section 1:7.]

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