Sandbar parking fee launches new debate

City councilor Ann Frodel questions the legitimacy of fee; city manager says port illegally removed two trees

June 22, 2005

The City of Hood River has challenged the Port of Hood River for charging a fee to cover parking lot improvements near a sandbar popularly used by kiteboarders.

City Councilor Ann Frodel is denying allegations posted on a kiteboarding Web site that she instructed a kiteboarder not to pay the $2 daily charge at the Spit.

“I did tell someone to look into it because the city had questions but I did not tell anyone not to pay it,” said Frodel, who also sits on the port’s Waterfront Recreation Committee, which recommended the fee.

The controversy over the re-grading of the dike at the confluence of the Hood and Columbia rivers has also brought a secondary charge by city personnel.

Bob Francis, city manager, contends riparian protection standards were violated when the port’s contractor removed two Locust trees — intertwined with poison oak — from the lot.

He also levied a charge that illegal dumping had taken place when the contractor subsequently threw the rootballs over the embankment.

In a May 18 letter, Francis outlined planning staff complaints about the recent work.

The port board is expected to draft a response following a final discussion of the outstanding issues at Tuesday’s meeting.

Port officials claim the work done this spring on the gravelled lot was routine and intended to stop erosion and repair dozens of potholes.

In addition, the narrow driveway had been almost inaccessible to emergency vehicles, a problem that was highlighted by an injury accident last year.

Dave Harlan, port director, said the user fee for the site was levied to cover the $18,000 cost of the improvements. He said it was also meant to pay for ongoing expenses, such as maintenance of the grounds and portable toilets, and no profit is being generated.

In his letter, Francis recommended that the parking fee near the popular sandbar be suspended until the zoning has been changed from light industrial to recreation/commercial.

He directed the port to take corrective steps to remedy the situation by Aug. 1 or face possible enforcement action.

“Usually when developers, contractors or residents have questions regarding land-use regulations on development plans, they first consult with the city staff,” wrote Francis. “The city staff is always willing and available to review any work prior to it starting. I would ask that the port and its staff also contact the city staff prior to conducting work projects, especially issues at the waterfront, so we may avoid any future problems.”

Harlan expressed surprise at receiving the documentation from Francis.

He said the work done in the parking lot had long been requested by kiteboarders and was just meant to overcome problems.

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