A Modest Proposal in the Spirit of Tom McCall to Reopen Coastal State Parks

(Please read if you care about Oregon’s ocean beaches, comment and share this proposal far and wide.)

I have a great notion how to reopen the state parks that provide access to Oregon’s greatest cultural asset, our publicly-owned ocean beaches, or the Great Birthright, as former Oregon Governor Oswald West memorably called them back in 1913.

This notion emerged on the beach while I was building a driftwood fort. The notion did not originate with me. I borrowed it from Oregon antiquity, the golden era of Tom McCall, the legendary, two-term, Republican Governor.

In 1973, after the Arab oil embargo, gasoline prices skyrocketed and led to long lines at filling stations across the country. If I recall correctly, one of McCall’s aides came up with the EVEN/ODD idea to end long gas lines lines in Oregon. The aide pitched the idea to McCall, he approved it, and announced it to the public. He apparently had no legal authority to do so.

The idea was: drivers with even-numbered license plates would buy gasoline on even-numbered days; drivers with odd-numbered license plates would buy gasoline on odd-numbered days. Simple. Brilliant. Non partisan. Didn’t cost the taxpayers a cent. McCall asked Oregonians to do the right thing and abide by the system for the greater good. They did.

It worked. It quickly became a model for the rest of the nation.

My notion is: drivers with even-numbered license plates could visit a coastal state park on even-numbered days; drivers with odd-numbered license plates could visit on odd-numbered days. People on foot visit on even-numbered days. Bicyclist get odd-numbered days. Those with vanity plates would add the total number of letters and numbers and that sum would determine EVEN/ODD status.

If visitors find a vehicle parked on the lot on the wrong day, (and of course they will) well, what would Tom McCall do? He would gently confront them and point out their selfishness. He would ask them to take the high road. Some would not, but he would keep asking.

I also propose that some video wizard find a clip of McCall speaking and repurpose it to have McCall making an address to the Oregon people about the EVEN-ODD plan for reopening beaches. The video would then be posted on social media and offered to every TV station in the state. I volunteer to write this speech. It will contain the phrase, “these are your alternatives to milling madness.”

That’s from his speech announcing Vortex I. I’ll happily rip off Tom McCall over and over again so we can get back on the Great Birthright and enjoy the free and uninterrupted use thereof. (That’s from the Beach Bill)

Matt Love