In 1975, Dan Gulbrandson bought some property along NW Marina Way, with plans to create a marina with boat repair service and houseboat storage. By 1985, the new marina was nearly complete, except for the travel lift system. But, when Dan went to the County for the permit to install the lift system and get approvals for houseboat building, he got devastating news: at some point between 1975 and 1985, Multnomah County changed the zoning; from one which allowed for moorages, to one which did not.
After struggling unsuccessfully with this issue for nearly ten years, Dan sought legal help. In 1994, Dan’s attorney concluded that the only way to resolve the situation was to somehow persuade the State of Oregon to adopt legislation that would allow for siting of marinas in every comprehensive plan. The attorneys estimated this could cost as much as $20,000, with no guarantee of success. And, to even begin the process, they would need another $5,000 retainer from Dan. Then, the lawyer wrote:
“One possible way to reduce your costs for such a process would be to persuade some of your neighbors to join in the application.”
So, he did. Dan talked to his neighbors, other marina owners who were also impacted by this zoning change. The first members of the group were Dan Gulbrandson (A-1 Moorage), Cherie Sprando (Fred’s Marina) and Janet Hirsch (Larson’s Moorage).
They joined forces, made their case -- and won. The 1995 Oregon Legislative Assembly passed House Bill 3077, which, in Summary:
“Requires cities and counties to amend comprehensive plans to allow siting of marinas. Establishes conditions for siting of marinas.”
Others came on board quickly, including Jan and Tracy Hamer (River’s Bend Marina), Bill Casselman (Casselman’s Cove and Wharf), Curt and Ginger Curtis (Happy Rock Moorage), Jean Adams (Marina Way Moorage), Bridgeview Investors Corp and Grant Johnson (Sauvie Island Moorage). Membership grew steadily. From 10 members in 1994, to 19 members in 1995 and 37 in 1996. In 1997 there were 51 members, and that year the group was granted IRS nonprofit status as “Waterfront Organizations ofOregon.”
Since then, WOOO has steadily grown and continues to be actively involved in issues related to ownership and use of the waterways, and in helping to bring about important legislation and other decisions* that benefit everyone whose business, or home, or recreational area is part of our beautiful Oregon waterfront.
April 4, 2022 Rose Kowalski Historian
*Partial list of issues WOOO has worked on.
1996: Waterway Leasing Task Force. During 1996, WOOO successfully influenced Governor John Kitzhaber to establish a Department of State Lands Task Force, to which he then appointed two WOOO members, Cherie Sprando and Mel Pittman. The Task Force reviewed proposed increases to DSL’s land
WATERFRONT ORGANIZATIONS OF OREGON A HISTORY
lease rates, then saw that DSL took inventory of the lands it managed, and DSL put off its decision to raise lease rates.
1997: Multnomah Channel-Sauvie Island Rural Area Plan. Three WOOO Members were appointed to the Citizen's Task Force, which developed future model for waterfront zoning, resolved
current zoning issues with existing marinas through an inventory and reconciliation process, and developed a regulatory procedure, "Special Plan Area" zone, to allow marinas to reconfigure.
1997: Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon State Marine Board Guide for Sewage Disposal in Vessels. DEQ/OSMB adopted WOOO recommendations on collection alternatives for vessels. WOOO provided recommendations on new pump-out station locations and program implementation procedures.
2018: Rain Tax. “WOOO’s most high profile accomplishment was our challenge to the fairness of Portland’s stormwater fees that included charges for over the water structures that drain rainwater into the river. Guided by the leadership of Sam Galbreath (Macadam Bay Club) and Ron Schmidt (President, WOOO), we succeeded in getting the “over water fee” rescinded and refunds sent to the moorages that were affected by the charges that began in 2016.
We were helped in this endeavor with positive front-page coverage in the Tribune and live testimony at a City Council meeting from several WOOO members, backed by the attendance of almost one hundred river folks. Commissioner Nick Fish gave a nod to Ron and the impact WOOO had on
their unanimous decision.” – Bob Hume, Director
2018-2021: North Portland Harbor Dredging Advisory Group. This group secured Congressional approval for the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge, and pay for dredging, North Portland Harbor.
2020: Proposed Levee Changes – to work with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, CENWP-PM in the planning Process
2020: Hayden Island Camping Ban
2022: SB859 – Abandoned and Derelict Vessels