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Why Add More? asks Michele Riley…

Why add more? 

When there is so much chaos in this world, why add more? Why add to an already difficult place to navigate with so many pitfalls and hidden dangers?  Case in point, our housing crisis. Not only in Oregon is this an issue but across our country. And there are some solutions to be had here. An easy one is to stop selling single-family homes to investors. Big or small investors. Big investors are reaping huge profits by buying up whole neighborhoods or blocks of homes and then renting them out long term to the very people who tried to purchase these homes (in some cases) and were outbid by the big investing corporation. Imagine that, you pay someone else to rent the property you wanted to purchase and get equity in. What a huge slap in the face! 

In Lincoln County we have our own version of this with the short-term rental property owners. Some are mom and pop owners with one property and others are more like corporate or large investors with many properties owned by a single owner or corporate ownership. Much of this is difficult to track since there are LLC’s with names but no faces to attach to the corporate entity.  

We need to stop investors from buying up Lincoln County. We need to keep housing for people to live in, not vacation in for a night or a weekend. Lincoln County has, and historically has had, plenty of motel/hotel lodging for our vacationing tourists.  Turning residential neighborhoods in the unincorporated areas into mini-motels does not keep our residents housed. In fact it does just the opposite, it helps un-house our neighbors and creates chaos for people who cannot find housing anywhere at any price. 

The pandemic was very, very good to outside investors. They were able to gobble up lots of profits at a time when most Americans (and most of Lincoln County) was struggling to put food on the table, to find baby formula and toilet paper. A vacation was a luxury far too dear to even think of. But the vacationers came, they came in droves and the STR owners made bank. The neighbors of those STR properties paid with sleepless nights, lots of trash and the people who could have bought those homes paid by having long commutes to their jobs in Lincoln County while the vacationers partied on– oblivious to the chaos they were causing. 

So what to do? 

Well, Lincoln County voters voted overwhelmingly in favor of ballot measure 21-203 and it would be law but for a group of STR owners and managers. They don’t like the way Lincoln County residents voted in favor of peaceful, quiet neighborhoods and against their profits. So in a nutshell: they sued the County. They want profits over people. Privatization of profits and socialization of costs. We pay the costs and they make the profit.  

If this sounds unjust to you, it should. The majority spoke and the minority are stopping our votes from counting in our own home County! Most of the plaintiffs, surprise to no one, do not live in Lincoln County!

Sour grapes, poor sports, sore losers, you bet. 

And with money to burn too. So they can keep suing and claiming they are harmed financially when they have raked in record profits during a time when most people are scrambling just to get by. Look at the food pantries and the increase in demand there. The gas prices are over $5 a gallon and yet the tourists are flocking here. And they are driving Land Rovers, Teslas, BMWs with plates from Texas, California, New York, Mississippi, North Dakota, Massachusetts and British Columbia. They are obviously not feeling the effects of the pandemic, inflation or the potential recession to come. But we who live here are.  

We feel it in the grocery store as we buy the same things and pay much, much more for them, if we can even find them! I have gone to about six stores in search of the rare” facial tissue.” Kleenexus countenansus. Good luck. You would think it was a rare artifact from a time long ago. And I am in a small household, only two people, what must it be like for a large family? I cannot imagine. 

The pain we feel could be lessened by stopping STRs from claiming more houses and taking them out of the ownership of full time residents, like ballot measure 21-203 would do.  

On a happy note, a big thank you to Yachats City Council for voting down a mini-STR-motel in their city. Thank you for standing up for your residents. We need more people like you who are brave enough to stand up to the for-profit bullying that has grabbed Lincoln County and the country by the throat. People are much, much more important than profits. You saw the potential for more chaos and said “no,” thank you. A vibrant, alive and thriving community needs housing, it needs doctors, nurses, restaurants, parks, gas stations, grocery stores with stocked shelves, teachers, as well as elected officials who listen to their constituents and stand up to the bullies who threaten to sue if they don’t get their way. 

We are fighting for you Lincoln County voters, we are.  Michele Riley, one small part of 15neighborhoods. 

P.S. I found some facial tissues last week! Hope you can too, I only bought one box!

Michele Riley, Unincorporated Depoe Bay

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