At What Cost?
Our neighbors shared this letter with us last weekend.
John Jacob Astor is famous as America’s first millionaire and known through many fine towns in the US that bear his name. Astor was a shrewd businessman and recognized the potential of the growing fur trade, especially here in the Pacific Northwest. He worked with local trappers and hunters to buy pelts, particularly beaver and otter, to create hats and coats that were then sold to wealthy people in Europe and throughout the eastern US.
Astor made a fortune, but at what cost?
We all know the modern consequences of his actions here in Oregon; beaver populations were decimated, otter populations were destroyed. Today, the best way to see a beaver in Oregon is to look at the back of the State Flag and the only way to see an otter in Oregon is by visiting an aquarium, like the wonderful one here in Newport.
Today, we’re facing a similar transformation as people pursue profits from another growing business – short-term rentals (STRs). In just 4 years, since the licensing program was initiated in December of 2016, the volume of licenses issued is approaching 600, shifting neighborhood homes into rental businesses. People who own and operate STRs claim the revenues from their businesses generate taxes and jobs.
STRs may be trying to make a fortune, but at what cost?
Noise problems, traffic problems, and adverse environmental impacts associated with overuse of septic systems, are some of the obvious impacts caused by STRs. Instead of houses available for locals, they’re operated as businesses (STR owners deduct maintenance and tax costs – can you?). As houses become businesses, they’re harder for local residents to find and afford because rental income subsidizes the cost of owning the property. This transforms our local neighborhoods into ‘mini-motel’ zones, destroying the residential areas originally envisioned by the existing zoning regulations for R-1, R-1A and R-2 communities.
The incorporated areas of Lincoln County, especially cities like Newport and Lincoln City, already have regulations and caps in place to manage the number of STRs; however, unincorporated areas within zones R-1, R-1a and R2 are not protected. In response, local residents are organizing to save their neighborhoods and reduce the adverse impact of STRs in these residential zones within Lincoln County.
Our neighborhoods may become as rare as beavers, or wiped out like otters. STR businesses pursue profits, but at what cost?
You can help by going to 15neighborhoods.com.
Bob and Barb Sulek, South Beach – Pacific Shores
The foregoing opinions by the writers do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of NewsLincolnCounty.com. The opinions and views are strictly those of the authors/submitters.