The Student News Site of Marshfield High School

The Marshfield Times

The Student News Site of Marshfield High School

The Marshfield Times

The Student News Site of Marshfield High School

The Marshfield Times

Crime at Local Beach Deters Tourism

Local treasure Bastendorff Beach has become the site of crime and poverty.
Starting more than three years ago, an issue arose at Bastendorff Beach that caught the attention of people all around the community.

Camps for homeless people living in the community began to appear in the woods between the road and the sand at the beach in addition to the parking lot near the jetty. While it is legal to camp for free at the beach for 14 days at a time, it still comes with community opposition.

According to KEZI News, 50-year-old Byron Sherritt was reportedly living in his van at Bastendorff Beach and was found dead on Feb. 27.  His death has been ruled a homicide after an autopsy revealed he was shot in the head.

Violence had occurred at Bastendorff prior to the recent homicide.

According to Fox News, in 2014 Zachary Brimhall shot at five cars, killing his father and a visitor who was camping at Bastendorff before killing himself.

Since then, the camping regulations have been altered multiple times, but a solution has yet to be found for the issue.

Spanish teacher Mark Lorincz said he frequents the beach and the camping occurring at the beach has limited his ability to enjoy his time there.

“I’m out there every day. We surf out there. I take my kid out there. Seeing the trash they leave behind is unsanitary, dangerous and disgusting,” Lorincz said. “I have found needles, household garbage, condoms, glass, broken pipes and tires. It’s a beach, not a dump.”

Senior CeAndra Nelson said she does not see a problem with the homeless camps being there because they are not the largest issue.

“I honestly do not see a problem with them being there,” Nelson said. “I think teenagers that party at the beach are affecting the pollution at the beach more than the homeless.”

Lorincz said despite the negative feelings he has personally toward the camps, he believes there are two sides to every story.

“I know a lot of them are veterans and suffer from mental illness, so I do not want to demonize them,” Lorincz said.

According to Lorincz, discussion about the litter and drug use occurring among the homeless population living in make-shift camps on the beach began on social media.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which is in charge of upholding the safety and maintenance of all government owned parks, put up signs to try to combat the wreckage occurring in the camps. However, Lorincz said he believes this only increased the issues


“We went to the BLM and complained, that is when they really started to make changes,” Lorincz said. “They put up a sign that showed the restrictions on camping and the time limit but it had the opposite effect because people realized they could camp there legally.”

Negative reviews of Bastendorff Beach have spread across social media, even reaching review websites such as Yelp, where it has been given three out of five stars.

User Julia R. from Coos Bay has given the beach a two-star rating and commented on the dissatisfaction she said she feels toward the maintenance of the beach.

“Rusty nails, broken glass, beer cans, bottle caps, cardboard carriers for 6-packs of beer, the remains of fireworks, baby binkies, condom wrappers, and cigarette butts everywhere,” she wrote. “My family is home for a visit from California and with five children ages five and under in-tow, we were all nervous wrecks to let the kids walk barefoot.”

Nelson said she wished the community would do more to take action on the issue.

“It would be better if Coos Bay would step up and have more homeless shelters and places for them to be,” Nelson said.

Lorincz agrees the community should do more to try to stop the problem but he said the camps are an issue because they take away from the area’s tourism and decrease the ability to have money for the community as a whole.

According to Loricnz, without working as a community to restrict camping and keep local parks clean, fewer tourists will be drawn to the area.

“Having a makeshift homeless camp on one of the largest tourist draws in the county, our beaches, I think that it’s a bad thing,” Lorincz said. “I mean not only will tourists turn away because who wants to go and be reminded of the poverty we see, they just won’t come and we won’t have any tax dollars to alleviate the problem.”


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Crime at Local Beach Deters Tourism