Is Ballot Measure 21-203, that restricts short-term vacation rentals (STRs), now the “Law of the Land”? No, not yet! The STR industry got the state Circuit Court to issue a temporary restraining order to stop it from taking effect. Passed by a landslide 58%-42% , Lincoln County Measure 21-203 would have stopped new STR licensing and phased out many existing ones in unincorporated Lincoln County.
But the Short Term Rental industry quickly filed four lawsuits against Lincoln County, two of them directly challenging 21-203, trying to overturn the election. Attorneys for 15neighborhoods and Lincoln County are working in Court to defend Ballot Measure 21-203 and the will of the voters.
Once the judge issued the restraining order, the County Commissioners promptly passed Resolution 21-3-12A, stopping new STR licensing until March 2nd. An extension will soon be necessary, suspending licensing until the Courts sort this out.
Ballot Measure 21-203 may be the first time voters anywhere used the initiative process to take charge and give directions to their elected officials about Short Term Rentals. Our County Commissioners now know we expect them to stop the damage being done by STRs to our residential neighborhoods and long-term housing stock. If we successfully defend 21-203, grassroots groups throughout Oregon and other states, with a direct Citizens Initiative Petition process, may rely on this pioneering precedent, thanks to Lincoln County voters. The prospect of Citizens taking direct control of local STR policy scares the STR industry. This fear and a bottomless well of money caused the STR industry to hire Portland law firms to try to overturn the will of Lincoln County voters.
The Voters are the County attorneys’ real clients. Our Commissioners need to make sure the County’s attorneys know their clients’ goals: (1) to stop new STR licensing and, (2) to phase out existing STRs in residential neighborhoods outside the cities within five years.
Measure 21-203 will help restore our long-term housing stock and preserve our neighborhoods. The Commissioners proposed a cap on STR numbers, but a cap without a phase-out requirement is unworkable. Without a phase-out, outside investors have no incentive to sell or rent long-term.
Contact the County Commissioners and tell them you want Measure 21-203 to be the “Law of the Land.” Write letters to newspapers, radio stations and local internet news editors expressing your frustration. Stay current on what is happening in the Courts, keep up with what your neighbors are saying, read what the news media are reporting – and go to www.15neighborhoods.com for more information.
But “15Neighborhoods” need donations to pay our lawyer to uphold your votes by defending Ballot Measure 21-203 in Court. Donate online at www.15neighborhoods.com by Paypal or mail a check to15neighborhoods, PO Box 390, Depoe Bay OR 97341. Nearly all donations are earmarked for attorney fees, though a special contribution was made to begin some modest advertising to alert people not on the Web.
In November, voters will elect two County Commissioners. Find the candidates on social media. Have they heard of Measure 21-203 and the landslide win against in-and-out of area investors? Ask Lincoln County residents where they stand on licensing and phase-out of existing STRs? Do they take a stand, or are they evasive? If you don’t like their answers, consider becoming a candidate yourself. Doug Hunt was last elected with 10,861 votes. If you support 15neighborhoods’ bottom line, halt licensing and phase out existing STRs over the next five years. I know where you can find 10,080 votes to start. YOU can file for candidacy at the Lincoln County Courthouse in Newport through March 8, 4 pm.
Monica Kirk, Steering Committee