A weary Lincoln City City Council decided Monday night to abandon any further consideration of setting up special Vacation Rental Zones. At least for now. The voters in May, by a spread of 52% to 48%, repealed other aspects of the vacation rental debate. Several residents who are vehemently opposed to any controls on where vacation rentals are allowed, won the debate – if not on the merits as they saw them (one resident calling for the ouster of the city attorney) than on the fact that the city council sided with their city manager who earlier asked that they withdraw the effort so the city can determine a better way forward by further engaging the community to get to a better solution – whatever that might be.
It leaves the city in basically in the same place it was six years ago when city officials began grappling with resident complaints that vacation rentals were ruining traditional neighborhoods with their constant merry-go-round of tenants, frequent problems with trash, noise and parking. On the other side, there are many vacation rental operations that do not have these problems, but just like their less than well-run compatriots, contribute greatly to the local economy.
Many cities have varying approaches to the vacation rental issue. Some limit the total number of vacation rentals – others exercise strict code enforcement with heavy fines for violating vacation rental rules. Even revocation of their license. Several people during the council meeting – citizens and councilors – expressed interest in Lincoln City exploring Newport’s vacation rental ordinance which, they claimed, seems to work very well.
But for now, it’s back to square one with city staff helping to set up methods to meet with various business and citizen groups in an effort to learn what might work for Lincoln City.