ac.cess (ak'ses), n. 1. a means of approaching:PASSAGE. 2. The act of approaching. 3. The right to enter or use <has access to..>
(Webster's New College Dictionary, 1995)
The Beach Bill
There are two major pieces of public policy that provide and protect the publics' public access rights; the famous Oregon Beach Bill of 1967 and the State Planning Goal 17 for Shorelands. First, the Beach Bill established a permanent public easement for access and recreation along the ocean shore seaward of the existing line of vegetation, regardless of ownership.
Earlier legislation had established the wet sand portion as state property and a recreational area. (Oregon Revised Statutes 390.605-755) The Beach Bill also set forth a policy, under what is now the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (ORPD), to provide public access to the beach at routine intervals.
Goal 17 - Shorelands
The second pillar of public access is the requirement in Statewide Planning Goal for Shorelands that cities and counties, in coordination with OPRD, have plans to provide public access. The goal also requires that local governments protect those access sites and replace them if they are lost for any reason.
What this means to beach users is that there is open access along the sandy beach area and at regulated sites leading to the ocean shore. It does not mean that the public has a right to access the beach from anywhere or that private property can't block access along the ocean shore. Still, as anyone who has traveled elsewhere knows Oregonians have it pretty good and shouldn't abuse the privilege. Use the designated access sites, don't trample on someone's private property, and be respectful of the public's resource.