Not a packed house, but a pretty full one, greeted Lincoln City City Councilors Monday night – mostly VRD owners and operators showing up to express their continued opposition to the city’s proposed tightening regulations on Vacation Rental Dwellings – homes for rent for something less than a month primarily during the tourism season.
On the table was a plan with areas of the city where new VRDs could be created, but also areas where they could not. All VRDs in “No” zones would be grandfathered in but when their current owner sells, the VRD goes back to being just a house.
Many complained about that part. One Portland area man said he bought a VRD with an eye to handing it down to his children so they could make money on it too. Since he’s in a “No” zone, that wouldn’t happen. His kids would get the house – but just a house. No more VRD. He accused the council of taking something from him that he worked hard for and spent no small sum on to bring it up to a valuable piece of property – one that produces more taxes for the city than it would have otherwise. He said suing the city would be a high probability if they proceeded to adopt the “yes-no” zoning option.
Others also clearly implied that they would sue if any changes were made to the current VRD situation in Lincoln City. Others continued to contend that Oregon Proposition 49 would also be hammered over the head of the city if it further restricted VRDs in a way that confiscated value from a home by lowering its use to simply a house. But the city attorney has said repeatedly through the process that they’re wrong. He continues to contend that those who make such claims don’t understand the law and would not prevail. He says they have a house – with an accessory use. Being restricted to having just a house is not a legally actionable item.
Others sounded off saying:
* The city already has penalties for VRD owners who allow trashy yards, loud music, late night parties, cars parked all over and other behavior disrespectful of the neighbors.
* There are rules in place – just enforce them. One man suggested a “three strikes and you’re out” program. Or fines from $2,500 to $5,000 – “make it hurt.”
* “Charge VRD owners a high business license fee to fund adequate staffing for the police department to enforce VRD rules. You have the tools – Use them!”
* The City Attorney’s “Alt 1 & 2” options are non-starters. Unacceptable.
* “Look at Newport. They have no restrictions.”
* “You have a solution looking for a problem that doesn’t exist.”
* You’re going to drive away a substantial part of Lincoln City’s tourist economy. They’ll just go to Newport or Manzanita.
* “Many Lincoln City people make their living taking care of VRDs. You’re threatening their jobs.”
* A realtor said “I lost two VRD sales, one to Newport, the other to Manzanita because the shoppers heard Lincoln City was attacking VRDs.”
* But also this from a die-hard opponent of VRDs: “VRDs are a business. R-1 zoning, which they’re in, is purely residential. Residential is not business. Do the right thing!”
After the public hearing was gaveled to a close, the council said a collective thank you to everyone who came. They then announced that written testimony can be submitted to the city through noon, March 5th.
The council is scheduled to consider the issue again at its regularly scheduled meeting Monday, March 10th at 6pm.
We’ll see if they’ve heard and seen enough to make a decision.