The following political endorsement is the product of Karon Johnson who endorses Measure 21-203. Her editorial reflects the views and opinions of herself and a wide range of Lincoln County voters but does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of NewsLincolnCounty.com, its advertisers or staff.
ENDORSEMENT OF MEASURE 21-203 – Limiting Short Term Rentals
I urge the residents of Lincoln County to vote yes on Ballot Measure 21-203 because it is a reasonable compromise. It will phase out whole-house rentals while continuing to allow owners to offer short term rentals (STRs) in their own homes. Portland has adopted the same policy and it’s working well.
I am a retired attorney living in Bend and have studied the impact of STRs in cities across the country. There are over 1,100 short-term rentals (STRs) in Bend and their impact has been devastating. The Bend code allows both whole-house STRs and owner-occupied STRs, but the vast majority are whole-house.
Whole-house STRs destroy neighborhoods. They are commercial businesses—mini-hotels– planted on residential streets. They generate the typical noise, traffic and litter such businesses inevitably cause. Instead of having a trusted neighbor next door, residents must deal with a revolving flood of tourists whose lifestyles are entirely out of sync with theirs. The owners of STRs don’t participate in the neighborhood’s events, have no reason to get involved in neighborhood concerns or to make improvements to their buildings because they don’t live there.
Whole-house STRs have contributed to the severe housing shortage in Bend: over 1,100 homes have been removed from the reach of middle-income people. Why should landlords rent their houses month to month, when they can make three times as much renting them as STRs? Our workforce—including people who earn as much or more than the area median income, can’t afford to rent in Bend, much less purchase a house. The result is that our teachers, police, firefighters, civil servants and other middle-income people have to live out of town and commute to work every day. People who work in Bend should be able to live in Bend but more than 1,100 housing units have been taken off the market. Whole-house STRs have a negative effect on Bend’s economy, far beyond the obvious impact on local hotels or motels. The economy is suffering because businesses can’t fill needed vacancies. Recruiting talented, qualified employees has become very difficult because it’s simply too expensive to live here.
Measure 21-203 allows STRs to revert to their original use: homes for local people to live in. All of Bend’s whole-house STRs are second homes, investments for people who live elsewhere. Why should they be allowed to run businesses which have such a negative impact on the rest of the community?