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The myth that vacation rentals contribute to the housing shortage

Letter to the Editor
From:  Kelly Gresh

The 15 Neighborhood group claims that ocean front and ocean view homes being used as vacation rentals make it impossible for families and hospitality workers to find affordable housing. How could this possibly be the case? The average annual income in the county for working families is about $40,000 a year. Meaning approximately a third of that would be the max they could spend on housing. After taxes that’s less than $900 per month towards rent/mortgage payments. The prices of the vacation rentals in these beachfront communities is $500,000+ with many valued up towards 1 million. If vacation rentals were banned tomorrow and these homes trickle into the sales market over the next year how would anybody in the above category qualify to buy these homes? Buyers would be retirees and second homeowners, possibly a few people in town working their way up the food chain, but mostly people from out of the county. Which is what these neighborhoods are currently made up of.

The 15 Neighborhoods that are targeted in the current vacation rental debate are mostly second home/retirement communities. Many of them still don’t have a majority of full-time residents. They’re not family neighborhoods. The only children in most of these places are grandchildren.

Affordable housing starts with government and county officials zoning land to support growth. Many workers and families don’t even want to live right on the coast, they want better weather and sun so they go to Siletz and Toledo. If you rezone land and make it available to builders they can build higher density apartments/condos/townhomes for the workforce, and starter homes with more land for families. This is where the environmentalists come in.  I wonder if some of the people crying out for affordable homes would be the same ones chaining themselves to the bulldozers with signs reading “save the spotted owl” or “stop urban sprawl.” You can’t have it both ways. 

This is how towns grow: affordable housing springs up on the outskirts of towns to support the industries inside the towns. Coastal communities have a special challenge because they can only grow inland.  The 15 neighborhood group has done quite a job clouding this issue. A barrage of letters to the editors siting statistics from other communities and counties claiming vacation rentals are causing the housing shortage. Even if working families did want to buy a beach front home they’d have to buy something in their price range and that doesn’t exist in the neighborhoods that are being targeted.

If there’s a demand for housing why isn’t the county zoning land appropriately and bidding the jobs out for construction? It would create housing and jobs.

Kelly Gresh
South Beach

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The views and opinions expressed in the above Letter to the Editor are strictly those of the writer – they do not necessarily express the views and opinions of NewsLincolnCounty.com and its staff.

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