The Lincoln City City Council got an earful Monday night on proposed new laws that regulate Vacation Rental Dwellings. The proposed rules say that a VRD owner owns the license. AND IT’S NOT TRANSFERABLE. If the owner dies, and the owner is married, the wife has a full year to continue operating the home as a VRD. If not married, it’s the same for an executor of the deceased’s estate. After a year, the home reverts back to being just a home – not a VRD. A new owner can apply to the city to re-grant VRD status to the home if it complies with regulations on land use zoning and capped limits to VRD densities in any given area of town. Some of the rationale is that VRDs are spread throughout the entire city – some not appropriately. Some are in R-1 regular single family home zones. The point would be…the VRDs that are in and amongst “regular neighborhoods” would be allowed to fall away over time while VRDs in more properly zoned parts of town, largely west of Highway 101, would be encouraged, but not become the only kind of housing west of 101.
So there appears to be an effort to bring down VRD densities in some parts of Lincoln City in the interest of re-balancing the city’s housing situation. Part of that is to ensure availability of low and moderate income housing for citizens. It’s required by state land use law. In short, affordable housing cannot survive in the midst of a “VRD Gold Rush.” State laws require Oregon communities provide housing opportunities for all income levels.
They also talked about maximum numbers of people per bedroom in VRDs. The city proposed a 2 person per bedroom limit but it was criticized all evening long – especially among VRD owners who have large VRDs with huge bedrooms. They want at least three, maybe more per bedroom. Some suggested the cap on room occupancy should be tied to the total square footage of a VRD. Several VRD owners said (one tearfully) that a two person per bedroom cap would cause them to lose their VRDs and cause horrendous financial hardship. Others supported higher bedroom numbers because large families come to the coast for reunions and the two per bedroom limit won’t cut it.
Other aspects of the public session covered quiet hours – the city proposed between 10pm and 7am. Some wanted 9pm to 7am.
As for handling complaints, the city proposed very quick replies from owners or property managers when their renters make too much noise, create trash problems or parking problems. The city was proposing that stressed neighbors should call the police non-emergency line 541-994-3636. Owners or property management firms would have 2 hours to respond. Owners/property managers must also keep a log of complaints. If owners/property managers do not respond in the time-lines required, a judge could declare them guilty of failing to adhere to city codes and be eligible to lose their vacation rental license for the offending property. Not “three strikes and you’re out,” it’s “TWO strikes and you’re out.”
The issue will be back before the council within the next thirty days for more deliberations.
The rest of the city’s unveiling of proposed new VRD regulation will cover land use designations about where VRDs belong and how many nights they can be rented. Those aspects will come up at another council meeting.
This could take a while. The VRD process has already taken over seven years so a little more time can’t hurt if the result is a final solution for Lincoln City’s VRD challenge. This news story hits the high points, but if you’re a VRD owner or are deeply interested in the issue, go to Lincoln City’s main internet page and scroll down to where you see the VRD issue headlines.
Further public comments on all this can be emailed to City Hall:
The City Council Monday evening also formally approved a ballot issue for the November election – Should Lincoln City have a 3% sales tax on the sale of “retail/recreation” marijuana? The council approved it and now City Attorney Richard Appicello will make sure to get all the paperwork into the county elections clerk to make sure it’s on the ballot.
And speaking of ballot issues, if you’re a citizen of Lincoln City who wants to get a referendum or initiative on the ballot dealing with city issues, the council approved a new fee so that whoever wants to put something on the ballot will pay a fee to cover some of the city staff time to review and process the request. Recently a Lincoln City citizen filed three petitions involving 18 various versions of them. Staff said it occupied a good part of their work life just reviewing them and checking to see if they were legally constructed and complied with state laws dealing with such measures. The council Monday night authorized the city to charge a flat non-refundable $500 fee per submitted ballot issue.