The Lincoln County Commission this week tried to again wrap their arms around how to accommodate visitors to the coast who want to temporarily move into vacation homes, or “short term rentals” (STRs) as they’re increasingly being referred to.
And with the growth of STRs comes a lot more people to the coast causing disruptions to the peace and quiet of already established coastal neighborhoods. County Commissioners got a dose of game-changing methods of gauging the pro’s and con’s of changing residential environments. Year round neighbors are more and more loudly complaining about the growth of STRs in terms of noise, garbage and parking.
County Commissioners this week appeared to see their way forward to allow STRs but with a “cap,” or “limits” to STRs in any given area. The commissioners also discussed a “cap” on each STR as to the number of persons allowed to visit or stay overnight in STRs…the idea being that STRs should have adequate parking without lining both sides of the street – and in some instances blocking the driveways of year round residents.
Another aspect to the problem of over-crowded STRs is the fact many of them are on septic-systems. The Commissioners acknowledged that small crowds of people stay in the STRs causing overloaded septic tanks and septic fields that can, and frequently do, cause noxious odors far beyond their property lines. A county septic system inspector told the commissioners that septic tanks and septic fields work well when there is a low-even-levels of septic waste that can be treated in the septic fields. But when overloaded due to crowded weekend STR occupancies, it stinks up the neighborhood and systems have to be pumped out because the systems are largely sized for single family homes – not for 10 to 15 people in a house at the same time. At the end of the discussion the Commissioners said if STRs are used by a small number of visitors the system can work properly. But not when it becomes what amounts to a college frat house – which happens a lot.
The Commissioners re-iterated their opinions about caps on the number of STRs as well as caps on the number of people allowed to use any single STR. Commissioners referred the issue back to County Counsel to evaluate methods to keep a better handle on STRs. There appears to be quite a few STRs being treated like hotels to the detriment of their neighbors. We’ll see what County Counsel Wayne Belmont and his staff come up with.