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Lincoln City: More vacation rental code enforcement agents on the beat? Setting a date to pick a new city councilor. And visioning a future for Lincoln City.

Richard Appicello LC City Attorney

Richard Appicello
LC City Attorney

Still trying to get a handle on Vaction Rentals in Lincoln City

One of the aggravating factors in Lincoln City’s long slog through, shall we say, “Vacation Rental Reform”, has been the problem of enforcing city laws that regulate vacation rentals. There were (and still are) two major problems. One, there are vacation rentals that operate without a city license to operate and two, although many VRDs have licenses there’s no VRD “cop on the beat” to ensure they follow city rules and regulations to ensure VRD operators are good neighbors.

In the past, the reason for lack of enforcement has been attributed to a lack of funds to hire enough city code enforcement personnel. But the current city council Monday evening approved a method to ensure there are enough code enforcement officers and that they are able to write very expensive tickets to owners and operators of vacation rentals that either don’t have a license to operate or are not following city rules about garbage, parking and noise and limits on the number of rental nights the properties can be operated based on their location. If a VRD is in a commercially zoned area, there are no limits on the number of nights it can be operated. If they’re located in a residential zone there are limits to the number of nights they can be operated.

Since the voters struck down the city’s attempt at “VRD Reform,” the city’s VRD ordinance falls back on state law which mandates that vacation rental use of a home, in a residential zone, must be incidental and subordinate to its owner living there. Much public testimony in front of the city planning commission and the city council by neighbors contend there are many vacation rentals operating in residential zones that are vacation rentals whose owner seldom sets foot in them. They’re strictly investment property run by a property management company meaning the VRD is being run like an ATM machine for its owner.

The city council Monday night passed a new city law that allows the city manager to appoint properly trained city employees to become part-time code enforcement officers in addition to their regular duties. These include regular Lincoln City Police Officers. Fines for violating VRD codes, including others, can carry fines of up to $1,000 per violation.

The new code enforcement officer provision is now on the books.

How to pick a replacement for former City Council Jim Davis

Former City Councilor Jim Davis’ recent resignation from the city council created an understandable procedural hiccup for the council. Davis failed to serve even six months of the four year term he ran for and won. Although there’s been widespread speculation about why he quit, his version was simply that he had moved out of his Ward, from which he ran.

Since the council didn’t want to spend a lot of money for a special election it agreed to appoint Davis’ replacement. The procedure by which a replacement will be chosen includes all three candidates appearing before the city council October 12th to answer councilor questions. Each city councilor is to give two questions to the city manager which will be directed at each candidate City Manager Ron Chandler will weed out the duplicates if there are any.

At the end of the interview the council will vote on who they think would make the best city councilor.

City Councilor Kip Ward and Mayor Don Williams expressed frustration at what they consider an unreasonable limitation of the variety and number of questions for the candidates. But City Attorney Richard Appicello and City Manager Ron Chandler reminded them that since a special election is off the table, the procedure is more like hiring an employee than declaring an election winner. And because they’re interviewing the candidates like prospective employees, there are restrictions on questions that may pertain to a protected class of people or other discriminatory questioning. All the candidates will sit together and get to hear the questions and all the candidates have a right to respond.

In the end all city councilors voted for the interview format October 12th with Mayor Williams reiterating that he’s uncomfortable with the format but he understands its necessity.

…and finally…what’s your vision for Lincoln City 20, 30 or even 50 years down the road?

Senior City Planner Debra Nicholson laid out to the city council a very ambitious plan to begin gathering public opinion about how Lincoln City should appear, act and feel like, going out over 20, 30 or even 50 years. A lot of it has to do with the recent designation of the Nelscott area with the widening of Highway 101 and all the rest.

All this week there will be rare opportunities for Lincoln City residents to participate in a most unusual outreach campaign that will gather residents’ vision for Lincoln City and for the Nelscott area which is about to get a finished highway upgrade through their area.

For a dazzling amount of information and scheduled opportunities for residents to give their ideas to what Lincoln City should look like in 20, 30 or even 50 years from now, just go to NelscottPlan.com or “Nelscott Plan” on Facebook. Or just click here.

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