Lincoln County Commissioners Wednesday had a big crowd of people show up during their weekly meeting – one group protesting the continued toxic spraying on forest lands and how it affects the people who live near them. The other major issue was described as an explosion in the growth of vacation rentals which accommodate out-of-town visitors who come to the coast to relax and and escape their crowded urban environments.
Some of the points made on toxic sprays on private forestlands:
* Some residents testified that people living near sprayed forests are becoming ill due to aerial spray drift from helicopters – sprayed chemicals catching a ride in the wind and down creeks that wander through communities.
* People complained that timber companies lobby to pass laws that pre-empts the rights of human beings living in these areas to enjoy healthy lives. Lobbyists that represent large timber corporations have managed to pass laws that ignore the pleas of residents who point to the fact that the U.S. Forest Service doesn’t conduct aerial spraying on their federally owned properties because of their concern for the health of not only people but wildlife that dwell in the forests. Some have said they are worried that our forests are being turned in to “Wood Farms” rather than natural forests that filter our air, provide habitat for wildlife and produce oxygen for all living things to breathe. There are many indications that this battle is just heating up. Of course timber owners have dumped billions of dollars into their holdings and expect to benefit from sufficient return on their investment to produce a “sustain yield” of profits for themselves and for their shareholders. They consistently remind us that we live in a capitalist country.
Another big issue presented to the county commissioners is what some characterize as the “out-of-control” vacation rental dwellings industry (VRDs). They mostly involve single family homes or condos, owned largely by out-of-town owners who admittedly make a small fortune on renting their expensive overnight and over-weekend facilities for mini-vacationers wanting to get out of their big cities for a few days. Several citizens told county commissioners that there is a routine lack of enforcement of rules on noise, occupancy numbers, parking limits and properly handling trash. Regular year-round residents complain that their peaceful neighborhoods are being transformed into open air party-time college dormitories. Several complained that VRDs in and outside of local cities don’t have nearly enough VRD rule enforcers on the streets to keep things in line. Local residents also decry the fact that with the growth of VRDs in their area, their property values are declining. Some residents who live outside city limits say even they are getting hit by the spread of VRDs.
An often mentioned complaint is aimed at the conversion of regular homes into VRDs. They say for every new VRD conversion it means one less house or condo that is available for regular residents as well as for the growth in the number of new permanent residents. The net effect is sharply rising housing costs which puts heavier financial burdens on local businesses trying to hire local labor at rates they can afford.
This VRD issue is certainly not limited to Lincoln County. It’s happening all over the country as friends and families seek lower cost vacation options. Meanwhile, local city councils and county commissions are being looked to for proper planning for sufficient local “housing stock” so that their communities don’t run out of housing for locals.
There is going to have to be a lot more “action” taken on this particularly troublesome challenge.