Jane Stebbins
The Curry Coastal Pilot

The issue of yahoos racing their cars, people dumping trash or holding late-night, noisy parties on Social Security Bar in the Chetco River could come to a head at a Brookings City Council work session Monday.

There, they will discuss the long-time problems and a realistic course of action, all of which have proven insurmountable in the past.

Representatives of the city, Sheriff’s Office, DSL, Oregon State Police and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife plan to attend the work session, which is open to the public. The meeting starts at 4 p.m. at City Hall on Elk Drive in Brookings.

Party spot

Social Security Bar has long been a haven for people escaping the summertime heat — or fog. Its rocky terrain is a veritable playground for families, anglers, water sports enthusiasts — and loud motorcycles and heavy-duty four-wheel-drive trucks that race up and down the bar and in the riverway all hours of the day and night.

The neighbors aren’t happy about it. Neither are families, who fear a small child might be struck by a vehicle or ATV.

Visitors to the bar often encounter more than rubbish dumped on city property or on the bar itself. Dirty diapers and beer bottles are fairly common. Last month, someone dumped an old mattress there. Couch fires have been reported, as has drug use.

To whom it falls

Jurisdiction, possible solutions, staffing and money shortages all contribute to the continued problems at the bar.

The city owns a 1.6-acre parcel of land at the entrance off of North Bank Chetco River Road. The Department of State Lands (DSL) oversees the waterway of the Chetco River. Oregon State Police oversees the bar and enforces the law there. And the entire area falls under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff’s Office, which doesn’t have the manpower to monitor activity on the bar.

DSL rules say that section of land is closed to “all uses from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. throughout the year.” Additionally, all waterways are off limits to motorized vehicles — another issue that is blatantly ignored.

In 2015, the city council sent a letter to the Sheriff’s Office asking for more patrols on the bar, but Sheriff John Ward doesn’t have the resources to do so. As it is, road deputies are only available from 2 p.m. to midnight, and this year, due to budget cuts, there will be fewer of them.

In past years, the city has considered erecting a gate on its property, preventing people from accessing the popular bar. That wouldn’t stop the trash-dumping problem at the entrance, and requires someone — a sheriff’s deputy or volunteer — to lock and unlock the gate at dawn and dusk every day. And people are determined; in other places where gates have been erected, they’ve soon been torn down.

Curry Transfer and Recycling even removed their portable restroom in 2014, citing damage inflicted on it.

The city has also looked at — briefly — hiring a campground host to monitor activity on the bar. The council thought putting picnic benches, a restroom and a 16-space RV area might alleviate some of the camping and party problems.

They’ve also thought of conveying the property it owns to the state — but that might could just be passing the problems onto another agency.

17724216