Jun 302011

VRD in Lincoln City

A very long festering argument between those who live in Lincoln City full time versus those who rent out their second homes to vacationers (VRD’s) has hit another noise level. The City Council has placed an announcement on the city’s website that some interpret as a “VRD Owners Beware” sign that VRD’s are under attack and because of that VRD home values will fall and VRD home sales will plummet. The city council denies anything of the sort is going on, only that they want VRD owners or prospective owners to know that changes to city VRD codes are in the works for the next six months. They say they’re just being transparent and fair to anyone in the VRD industry.

Lincoln City, by virtue of its easy reach of daytrippers from Portland, has a very high rate of homes that are owned by out-of town-Oregonians who rent their properties just like they were bed-and-breakfast or even weekly rentals. And because of the large percentage of these “VRD’s” scattered about the city, also scattered have come complaints by year-round residents that a substantial number of VRD renters make too much noise, especially late at night, and leave the area full of litter and overflowing garbage cans that sit on the streets for several days awaiting pick-up. Many have characterized such situations as literally losing the peaceful enjoyment of their own property and near destruction of their neighborhood.

However, at least a couple of VRD owner associations have come forward with explanations for the problem, suggesting it’s caused by a few bad property management agencies who don’t really care who they rent to just as long as they get their money and the owners get their’s too.

This has been going on for years. And the city council appears poised to do something about it. But while they’re exploring changes to the town’s VRD rules, they put up a notice on the city’s website and at city hall that informs VRD owners, or prospective owners, that change is in the wind. The notice doesn’t indicate what kind of changes but only that the study process will take about six months.

At least one VRD homeowner’s association told the city council recently that the council is abusing a “cash cow” for the town’s treasury, outlining the millions every year that VRD renters bring to Lincoln City’s tourism economy. The association warned the council that the notice could drive down VRD property values or outright kill sales or purchasing deals already in process. They vowed to make a list of such occurrences to city hall as proof that dickering with the VRD ordinance is bad for business and bad for the city.

The city council is hiring a VRD consultant in an effort to assess Lincoln City’s Vacation Rental Dwelling situation and what can be done to better manage it whether through limiting the numbers of units or available times that such dwellings could be legally rented. Under most VRD ordinances, VRD’s are supposed to be rented only as an “accessory use,” rather than a primary use; otherwise you’d have mini-hotels and motels operating in the middle of traditional residential areas, which is what many neighbors contend is, in fact, going on. These and other aspects of the VRD industry will be examined over the next half-year which will also include examining VRD code enforcement and penalties for violations.

But VRD supporters contend that VRD “problem renters” are the rare exception and that it’s not fair to paint all VRD owners as irresponsible or uncaring.

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