Lincoln City City Councilors this week tried again to reach consensus on how the city’s vacation home rentals should be regulated. The big take-away is that the council remains pretty much divided 4 to 2 on some issues, possibly 3 to 3 on others. But former mayor and now City Councilor Dick Anderson (who is running for State Senate) may be the swing vote that could end up dead-locking the council 3 to 3. But it’s not completely clear which regulations might wind up in a tie vote.
Where consensus seems likely is limiting occupancy numbers for new VRDs to no more than 16 persons when a vacation rental has five or more bedrooms. For larger rentals that were operating before the state changed the rules in 2010, they would be able to continue with high occupancies as long as they have the OFF street parking required. It’s an approach taken by the county commission as they recently forged their own vacation home rental regulations. Councilors also seemed acquiesced to the state requiring fire sprinklers systems for larger VRDs – whether built in residential or commercial areas.
There was some disagreement about whether children, and at what age, should NOT be counted toward the total occupancy count in a VRD. Some said age 3 and others said age 10 and under.
It was said that part of the city’s problem with larger VRDs is that some of them were originally built as single family year-round homes. But then the owners converted them later to VRDs and presumably agreed to VRD regulations.
As for the fate of a VRD when its owner dies, permission is given to a surviving spouse (children don’t count), domestic partner or executor of the estate of the owner to continue operating the VRD for one year. Then a new VRD application would have to be filed with the city and the VRD would have to comply with current VRD rules and regulations.
As for how to handle complaints by neighbors that noise, trash, parking overflowing into the street or other problems are badly bothering the neighbors some councilors said a two hour response time was good enough while others said they want action on a complaint within a half hour. Mayor Don Williams, who is a prominent VRD owner said if he’s having dinner with his family in Newport he doesn’t want to be held to a half-hour response time.
When it came to health and safety issues – hot tubs especially, all councilors supported rules that keep them safe – free of harmful bacteria, rodents and other problems. But they differed over who should enforce the rules. Mayor Williams said he doesn’t want the city adding an inspector to the city payroll but would abide by some other standard of safety such as requiring VRD owners produce inspection receipts from private pool and spa company owners that are licensed for such inspections.
So…the VRD regulation debate continues. City Manager Ron Chandler said he would compile the issues and councilor opinions on those issues, line them up and then present analyses on them at the council’s next workshop meeting for which a date has not been set.