In what can only be described as establishing the “least wrong spot” to build new vacation rentals as opposed to converting pre-existing houses within established neighborhoods into vacation rentals, the Lincoln City City Council approved something just about everybody liked – a new vacation development that doesn’t make the neighbors mad. Because it is just that – new! And on bare ground.
A Washington state developer won approval from the city council Monday night that gives him the green light to build new vacation rentals as a cluster on seven acres of land east of SW Coast Avenue and south of SW Bard Road. He’s also going to build public access across his property as well as a very expensive walkway down a bluff face to the beach – also publicly accessible. And there will be a permanent manager of the properties, who will live there year round and make clients behave themselves while vacationing – especially when it comes to late night or very early morning noise, trash and parking where they’re not supposed to.
The development will offer a range of vacation rentals – small to large – and a common green play area, which the public can also use. However, the pool’s off limits unless your a client family or a guest of a client family. The developer told the council several weeks ago that he believes that vacation rentals provide not only a boost to the local economy but also a chance for families to spend time at the beach together while staying in something other than cramped hotel rooms. He said vacations spent in vacation rentals offers a more enjoyable and socially satisfying way to enjoy their time out and to more conveniently interact with others who seek the same experience. In short, making new friends in a more wholesome and enjoyable vacation environment. And when they come back every year, or nearly every year, they build family traditions and hold family celebrations and life benchmarks while visiting the beach – aspects not at all associated with the characterizations expressed by Lincoln City citizens have watched in anguish as large numbers of neighboring homes are converted to vacation rentals in what is progressively causing the loss of traditional neighborhood “feeling” and “uniqueness” – literally being “partied up” while being “character depleted.”
Later in the meeting, City Councilor Roger Sprague even went so far as to suggest the city re-examine the status of vacation rentals – perhaps that they should not be allowed one by one be approved within regular neighborhoods – one being approved on a street of regular homes and becoming disruptive to that neighborhood.. He suggested that a better strategy might be to approve a number of VRDs but all contiguous to each other. City staff said the question will be referred to the city planning department.
After a recent citizens referendum the city was generally forced to stop trying to concentrate vacation rentals in clusters like the Olivia Beach project. When such efforts were tossed out by the voters the city went back to it’s original set of rules dealing with vacation rentals – declaring them accessory uses which generally involves tighter restrictions when existing homes are converted to vacation rentals. There are a couple of appeals going before the city planning commission this week by two vacation home owners who, although have their properties in regular residential areas, none-the-less want them to be able to expand their number of bedrooms beyond a limit of five, as if the properties are situated in a commercial zone. Under city codes, to make vacation rentals eligible to have more than five bedrooms they must be located regular commercial business areas.
We’ll see how the planning commission handles this.