Submarine Cable: Facebook Meets With Tierra Del Mar Residents
By Hilary Dorsey, Tillamook Headlight Herald
August 26, 2019
Tierra Del Mar residents met with public officials and Facebook representatives earlier this month to discuss a proposed landing for a submarine cable. At issue was an application for a conditional use permit to land submarine fiber optic cable on an oceanfront residential lot at 28560 Sandlake Road.
The three-hour meeting, held at the Kiawanda Community Center on Aug. 11, was attended by State Sen. Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, and State Rep. David Gomberg, D- Otis as well as six representatives of Facebook and its subsidiary Edge Cable Holdings.
The proposed SubCom Jupiter cable would connect to a high-capacity transpacific system with international reach, reportedly owned by Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and others. Facebook representatives said the proposed project in Tierra Del Mar would support services used around the globe, including Indonesia, India, Japan, Hong Kong and other surrounding areas.
It’s the social media company’s position that despite its residential development classification, lot 3200 is more desirable than others that were scouted and found lacking due to clearance, erosion or wetlands concerns. Facebook bought the property in October of this past year.
Four existing submarine cables in Pacific City came up during the discussion. Facebook representatives said that landing is fully occupied and cannot fit a fifth cable because of congestion and fewer options for cable burial, making it a high-risk proposition.
“The big part of the reason to come to Pacific City is that there are highly available and high-quality fiber optic routes that connect on the land side from this area that go back to Hillsboro, Portland, and once you hit Portland, you can go south to Seattle,” said Jon Hudson, network investment manager of Facebook/Edge Cable. “You can go east to Boise and Salt Lake City. You can go south to Eugene to San Francisco, Los Angeles. You can get up to a larger internet ecosystem.”
Facebook worked with the Oregon Fishermen’s Cable Committee (OFCC) on finding the right location. At lot 3200, they found less risk of having nets get stuck on cables. Telecommunications also have less risk of interruption. It was noted that fish habitats are restricted from cables installation as federally protected areas.
“When we looked at putting the cable with the existing four cables, there were concerns offshore,” Hudson said, adding that the cables are in squiggly lines, avoiding areas such as exposed rock. “You can’t bury the cable because you don’t have anywhere to do so,” Hudson said. “If your cable is laying against this hard rock, you’re at a risk of a shift, causing the cable to snap.”
OFCC said it didn’t find many routes, and what it did find crossed with other existing cables. When route options near the existing cable sites failed to emerge, alternative routes became the next best bet. OFCC looked south at a state park that crossed other existing cables and a fish habitat.
Looking north at a public beach, Facebook found that because of equipment weights, having to restrict beach access, and the logistics of getting trucks onto the beach, there was too much of a conflict, so it was ruled it out. An eastside Sand Lake property also was considered but was too steep and too close to the water.
“That’s really how we ended up in Tierra Del Mar,” Hudson said.
A county planning commission hearing where the proposal will be accepted or denied is set for Sept. 5. Following the hearing, Facebook representatives hope to meet again with the citizens of Tierra Del Mar in October or November.