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Lincoln County Struggles on How to Regulate VRD/STRs After Moratorium Ends June 1st – Editorial

Lincoln County Commissioners are still not 100% sure how the county can live comfortably with so many Short Term Rentals (aka STR’s) invading regular neighborhoods.  Some STRs are owned individually – others by real estate brokerage businesses.  But regardless, those who have lived on the coast for many years or who just recently moved to the coast to retire, want to live in a real neighborhood – not in what amounts to individual homes being run like over-stuffed motels with clogged on-street parking, noise day-and-night and trash that’s left to blow around at the end of the driveway.  Full time residents also decry the fact that rural STR septic tanks – many of which are not properly maintained – get clogged up and eventually fail spreading not only awful smells but frequently contaminating the local ground water.

County Commissioners learned sometime back that septic systems require constant monitoring to prevent smells and pollution.  Part of the problem is overcrowding in STRs.  Overcrowding STRs in a single family dwelling has become a chronic neighborhood pain, prompting Lincoln County officials, and thousands around the country, to outlaw major social events like weddings and graduation parties using STRs.  In fact, county government staff wants to reduce occupancy from 10 to 15 persons down to 2 per bedroom with 2 additional occupants – sleeping maybe on couches or cots.

Another frustrating aspect is that local sheriff’s deputies are busy enough with law enforcement – day or night – which means STR’s have been relegated to the status of sheriff’s deputies saying to long time residents…”We’ll get around to your problem as soon as we can – but we’re also after speeders, car wrecks, robbers, burglars and domestic violence situations.”

In short, STR’s don’t belong in single family neighborhoods.  When you boil it down, treating homes like they’re motels and hotels can’t help but destroy the peace and quiet of a neighborhood worth living in.

Lincoln County Commissioners have been mulling over intolerable situations – like when local neighborhoods are invaded by out-of-town vacationers who should be checking into a motel or hotel.  Stable neighborhood citizens say…”That’s why so many hotels and motels have been built – and are still being built!” They add, “If it looks like a house and feels like a house but it sleeps 15,  it’s a noisy, upsetting intrusion into an otherwise livable neighborhood.

For many years, carefully thought-out and well-documented land use plans have made urban living part of a very comfortable lifestyle.  But over the last couple of years, something happened.  Suddenly single family homes, dressed up like hotels and motels, are blowing the doors off the history of intelligent land use planning and the tourist real-estate armies are coming ashore and are changing everything.

Tourists who want to romp and play, dine out and take in some coastal entertainment are always free to enjoy all that.  But not at the expense of All American neighborhoods.  Single family homes and STRs have, and will continue to have, a kind of arms-length symbiotic understanding.  One should not throw the other out-of-house-and-home.  If you want to come to the beach, rent a hotel or motel room(s).  It may become a bit more pricey, but at least tourists will be able to relax, put their feet up, look at the ocean, and clink glasses.  But from the peace and quiet of your own home you’ll never be forced to endure noises that sound like a segment of Animal House.   Single family homes are not motels or hotels.

It’s time for a reality check on STR’s.

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