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Letter to the Editor: To STR/VRD or not to STR/VRD – That is the Question….

By:  Aaron Linfoot
Chief Operations Officer
Meredith Lodging
Bend, Sunriver and Lincoln City, OR

I work for a local family-owned and operated property management company, Meredith Lodging.  We currently employ over 200 individuals.  Our employees fill a variety of positions, from housecleaning to  maintenance and owner relations.  All our employees earn at least a living wage and have the opportunity to advance into higher paying positions. In fact, I started with my company as a Reservationist and worked my way up to my current role of Chief Operations Officer.

Undoubtedly, lowering short term rental (STR/VRD) occupancy rates and/or placing a cap on the number of STR/VRDs operating in Lincoln County will have a negative impact on our operations.  If STR/VRD occupancy is further limited, or caps on STR/VRDs are put into effect, we may even have to reduce our workforce.  Living wage jobs – and especially those with opportunities for advancement – are hard to come by on the coast.  One of my proudest professional accomplishments has been to offer our hard-working, local staff the opportunity to grow, succeed and advance with us, and the chance to build a life for themselves.

Lincoln County currently ties several other Oregon counties as having the highest unemployment rate in Oregon.  Now more than ever, the 200+ jobs my company has responsibility for maintaining are crucial for both our employees and local economy. Short Term Rental guests drive tourist dollars to numerous coastal businesses – gas stations, restaurants, coffee/pizza/taffy shops and more.  In turn, these businesses are often locally-owned and employ local residents. These businesses are the heart and soul of our communities, and a big draw for visitors.  So many of these businesses have been struggling through the pandemic and will continue to rely on the income generated by guests staying in Lincoln County STR/VTDs for their survival. In addition to providing jobs, Short Term Rentals (STRs/VRDs) provide transient tax and other tax revenues which fund local government undertakings.

I appreciate the challenging job our elected officials have in front of them.  That is, to balance the competing interests in our County’s tourist-driven economy, the interests of local residents, local workers and business owners, and visitors to our region. The regulations previously enacted strike the proper balance and our local economy has adapted – in fact, to a point of codependency – to the region’s STRs.  There is no need to revisit occupancy limits or set caps on STRs/VRDs and doing so could have dire consequences for the people who live and work in Lincoln County.

Aaron Linfoot
Chief Operations Officer
Meredith Lodging
Bend, Sunriver, Lincoln City

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The views and opinions within the foregoing above do not necessarily reflect or are endorsed by the owners and management of NewsLincolnCounty.com. The views and opinions of the writer, Aaron Linfoot of Meredith Lodging, are strictly his own.

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