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Letter to the Editor: Short Term Rentals/Vacation Rental Dwellings DO contribute to the housing shortage and rising rents…

Letter to the Editor,

I would like to respond to a recent opinion letter from Kelly Gresh, as well as a general response to many opinions I have read in recent months from owners of Short Term Rentals (STR’s) and other vacation housing in Lincoln County.

First, I rarely find that any out-of-area STR owners/investors has an answer to where the working people of Lincoln County are supposed to live, rather they are outraged anyone would think an average worker could afford one of their big money ocean view homes. The working people of Lincoln County, are yes, providers of services to the tourism industry but they are also thousands of custodians, teachers, doctors, dentists, postal workers, fishermen/women, fish processors, Coast Guard men/women, NOAA employees, chefs, shop owners, cashiers, grocery workers, power company employees. mechanics – in other words, Lincoln County is also a working county full of industries, professions and public services that go far beyond the scope of tourism and support the citizens and children of this county. I certainly think they deserve an ocean view too.

I won’t go into the issues of living year-round in STR neighborhoods, just that the complaints are valid and affect residents to different degrees.

Kelly Gresh breaks it down to the “average” income of county families as $40,000, with “less than $900 per month towards rent/mortgage payments”, and again, scoffs at how impossible it would be for these working families to afford the $500,000+ vacation rentals in beachfront communities. First, fixating on the lower incomes of many of our residents in relation to $500,000 homes is condescending, and bringing up those figures makes an even stronger case for the affordable housing needs in Lincoln County. Second, there was a time when an “average” worker/retiree COULD afford a home (albeit a smaller one) with an ocean view in our coastal cities. Third, and what is rarely mentioned is that these “beachfront communities” are not only ocean front homes, but are also filled with homes that either don’t have an ocean view, or only a partial ocean view. These homes are often smaller, perhaps older, nice homes for a working family to live in – either as a rental or a home to buy – if they could.

Another opinion piece I read was a writer who proudly proclaimed that out of 120 homes in his South Beach community, 90 were out-of-state/area owned, with only 30 owned by county residents (that is a claim I would not have used to prove that STR’S do not take homes away from local workers). I have an idea which community he may be referring to, and that community, like so many others in unincorporated Lincoln County, is a mix of ocean front homes and homes on “the other side of the street” that have little or no view of the ocean, but because they’re within walking distance, short driving distance, or in communities with beach access, STR investors/owners are “settling” for these properties and snapping them up as well. And that is THE problem.

Kelly Gresh makes the statement that “affordable housing springs up on the outskirts of town to support the industries inside the towns”. That can be true to a certain extent, but when the STR industry also invades “out of town”, as is happening in our unincorporated areas, that statement has nothing to stand on. Also, STR owner/investors seem to believe that they’re not in “family neighborhoods” – well, how can they be family neighborhoods when they have been allowed to become STR business districts??? STR owners also seem to believe that local workers can just move to towns/areas miles away from where they work, after all, what were they thinking? – wanting to live close to their jobs or where their children go to school? That is their “solution” to our affordable housing issue- just move farther and farther out of town because that’s where workers “belong”.

When I moved down here with my husband for work a few years ago, it became clear that the supply of housing in Newport (whether renting or buying) for workers was very limited, and has become more limited and expensive since then.

I work with people who have little or no hope of owning a home here, or just finding a nice, affordable rental property. It shouldn’t be that way, and those who don’t live here and see our Coastal Communities as only $$$, simply don’t understand that. You want workers to clean your homes, mow your lawns, pick up your overflowing trash, pump your septic systems, make your latte and serve your sushi? Well, they all need a place to live.

Jane Bennwell
South Beach

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The views and opinions of the of the above do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of NewsLincolnCounty.com. They are entirely those of the writer.
Those who would like to contribute to the issues of STRs and VRDs are welcome to submit their own views and opinions to: Letter to the Editor at News@NewsLincolnCounty.com.

Anyone who would like to weigh in on the controversy over short term or vacation rentals emerging inside regular neighborhoods (or on any other topics) can submit their views or opinions to News@NewsLincolnCounty.com.

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