A Cannon Beach motel owner erects a driftwood fence, creating Oregon’s first private beach. Governor McCall quickly steps in (pictured). We must “protect the dry sands from the encroachment of crass commercialism,” he claims. The Beach Bill, McCall’s first major legislative victory, is signed into law on July 6 to protect public ownership of beaches, anchoring Oregon’s tradition of a communitarian outlook on its land.
Tired of picking up trash on his hikes, outdoorsman Richard Chambers, inspired by an article about a similar Canadian initiative, hatches an idea for container deposit legislation. He immediately begins writing letters to Oregon lawmakers.
More than 200 people rally on Cannon Beach (pictured) in support of a proposed gas tax that would authorize the state to buy privately owned beach land. The volunteer group Beaches Forever partners with then-State Treasurer Straub to get the measure voted into law. Debate surrounds the Beach Bill’s guidelines, and it won’t be until 1969, when the Legislature passes an additional measure, that the language is clear enough to stand up in court when challenged by private developers.
Thanks to the auto boom, use of public transit declined steadily through the 1950s and ’60s, causing Portland’s primary transit source, Rose City Transit, to flirt with bankruptcy and threaten to hike fares and terminate services. Portland City Council resolves to create the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon, or TriMet, to take over Rose City’s operations and reverse the deterioration of the public transit system.
August 19, 1969
As the wrecking ball sets to blast the old Oregon Journal building, the activist group Riverfront for People organizes a picnic for 350 people on a nearby patch of grass to call for a riverfront park. One picnicker asks, “Why don’t we give downtown Portland some breathing space?”
January 17, 1970
Inspired by a sketch of a new public square, the Portland Planning Commission rejects Meier & Frank’s request to build a twelve-story parking garage downtown atop their two-story structure (pictured). Retailers fume, and the march to create Pioneer Courthouse Square begins.
Voters remind the government to clean up and protect the state’s rivers by passing the Oregon Scenic Waterways Act. The act dictates that one must notify the government and receive approval before commencing activities that fall within a quarter mile of the riverbank—such as chopping down trees or implementing construction—on every river from the Columbia to the Klamath.
McCall (pictured) joins Chambers’s fight to “put a price on the head of every beer and pop can and bottle in the United States.” Despite frantic opposition from the soft-drink and bottling industries, the bill passes, becoming the first container deposit legislation in the United States.
Twenty-three-year-old freshman legislator Earl Blumenauer dreams up and builds the coalition to pass the Bike Bill, requiring bicycle and pedestrian improvements on all transportation projects that receive funding from the state. The federal government follows Blumenauer’s lead—two decades later—with the 1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act.
The city council adopts the Downtown Plan. Unlike past Portland plans designed by visiting consultants, this one is shaped entirely by locals: business owners, planners, architects, citizens, and politicians. It provides a blueprint for Mayor Neil Goldschmidt to reinvent the central city with new auto-free zones, public space, and a connection to the river.