Tuesday, December 13, 2005


I’m looking at this brochure which was included in my Welcome Packet [from my new credit union] which introduces newcomers to Grays Harbor County. On the back cover, there is an advertisement for “Washington’s New Authentic Beach Town”, Seabrook.

It seems that some young entrepreneur from Oregon hatched a plan to build a swanky new beach community out of the wilderness of the central Washington coast. While I’m certain this gentleman and his partners will earn oodles and oodles of bucks from their investment, there are a few aspects of this new venture that rub me the wrong way.

For starters, what is actually meant by the word, authentic? They are constructing a community where no community existed. They are building houses and roads where mighty trees once stood. The authentic area is a rugged forest, not a planned and laid out resort community. In addition, a truly authentic town in this locale would be an indian village of the Quinault.

From my perspective, it would have been far more truthful to state that they are “creating a beach town” modeled after other such communities.

The next aspect that rubbed me wrong is their description of the various houses for sale in this future community. While they certainly aren’t shy about extolling the opportunities to purchase near palaces, they also state that small cottages are available. Sort of gives one the impression that homes are available for individuals and families of varying financial standing.

Well, don’t fall for such illusions. Initially, the price range for homes in authentic Seabrook went from $400,000 - $650,000! In their most recent newsletter, the bottom figure has now increased to over $500,000!!

Obviously, this will not be an authentic community after all. Authentic communities have rich people, poor people and those folks in between. I don’t know about you, but I know of few people of limited to modest means who can afford a $500,000 home.

But what really gets me about the advertising glitz for Seabrook is the scant mention of normal weather conditions on the central Washington coast. The photos on the website show blue skies (maybe a few lazy puffs of clouds) and tranquil waters. Such pictures are the exception, not the authentic norm.

The site informs potential buyers that the weather in Seabrook is very similar to that of the central Oregon coast. This statement is only true if you view the word “similar” in extremely broad terms.

The area platted out for Seabrook (near Pacific Beach) gets a lot of rain. I don’t mean a lot as in 40 or 50 or 60 inches per year. According to The Weather Channel, this swath of the Washington coast averages over 112” of rain per annum. Folks, that’s a heck of a lot of water (about 0.30” per day).

Compare this figure to that of Newport, Oregon (the largest town on the central Oregon Coast). While Seabrook will average about 112” of precipitation per year, Newport averages 69.57” per year. That’s a difference of approximately 43” per year or, put another way, Seabrook receives an average of 62% more rainfall than Newport. (Maybe they mean the rain in the two locales has a similar wetness.)

Take a look at this breakdown for comparison. The first figure represents the average for Seabrook and the second figure represents the average for Newport.

January: 16.37” vs. 10.25” (about 60% greater)
April: 8.29” vs. 4.87” (about 70% greater)
July: 1.94” vs. 1.04” (about 85% greater)
October: 9.32” vs. 5.12” (about 82” greater)

For potential buyers who presently live within a few hours of Seabrook, the rainfall totals won’t come as a shock at all. They are well aware of what they’re getting into. What I worry about is those folks who hail from areas outside of the Great Northwest, like Southern California. Many such people wouldn’t be able to fathom 112” of anything per year!

Can you imagine plunking down $700,000 for a spatial home only to find out your next door neighbor is some guy named Noah and he’s building an ark in his back yard? Wouldn’t that tick you off somewhat?


  1. 112". That actually hurts my brain a little.

    I lived a long while in Louisiana, which is a pretty wet place to live even when hurricanes aren't backhanding the coastal towns. I spent several summers in Lake Charles (recently made semi-famous by film of trees laying down flat during Rita), which is one of the most reliably drenched places in the state even in normal weather. 10" dropping in 24 hours is relatively common there and is pretty much shrugged off, and in the 6-week periods I spent there for five years running, I don't recall a single day that it didn't rain at least a little, more often a lot. This was during a drought that lasted nearly 7 years statewide.

    And even there, it rains about 70" a year. 112. Holy crap.

  2. I know average home prices are much lower in that area, but here in the Washington, DC, area the average home price is approaching that 500k number. It's ridiculous. My mother has a modest 3 bedroom one-level brick rambler and it would sell quickly near 500k.

    I object to the desecration of the area where Seabrook is being built, but it sounds like they're making an effort to build a quality product: http://tinyurl.com/8y8ws Thank goodness for Olympic National Park. That should save much of the coast from development.

  3. You'd think it couldn't go on (real estate), but in that maryland/DC area, it's insane.

    My sig. other's sister just moved out of there this year and got $375,000 for a 1600 sq foot 3 floor townhouse that they purchased in 1997(?) for about $140,000!!!

  4. Enjoyed a lot!
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