Lincoln City Councilors get an earful over Vacation Home Rentals – They punt it until July 22…and even then…
The many year debate over where vacation home rentals should be allowed in Lincoln City came closer to a head Monday night…but not quite. It’s been a long and winding road of citizens consensus building coupled with recommendations to the city planning commission, and now the whole thing landing in the city council’s lap. Monday night the debating continued before the city council. There were a few who testified that Lincoln City needs to draw a line in the sand and announce, ENOUGH! No more vacation home rentals. They went down the well-traveled complaint list of loud parties, trash on lawns, cars parked everywhere, disrespecting the neighbors…the works.
Others spoke highly of vacation home rentals (most of them owners of same) claiming that their properties are well run, tightly managed and rarely draw any complaints. They drove home the point that Lincoln City is a tourist town – perhaps more of a tourist town than a regular place to live. One Portland resident who claimed to have invested more than a half million dollars in his vacation home rental said to find his property in a “No” zone means that although it’s “grandfathered in” as a vacation rental he can’t leave it to his children to inherit and maintain because upon his death it reverts back to being just a regular house. Others echoed those same frustrations. One vacation home rental owner said that many of them were built to be vacation rentals – not permanent homes. She said they’re overly large, have huge bedrooms and living areas, the kitchens are limited and closet space is tiny. Even the garages are small. So if they can’t be used for vacation rentals, they simply won’t sell on the market because they’re built funny – they’re built for weekenders and their friends.
Community Development Director Richard Townsend said the first maps are just the first maps. Those who believe their home has been wrongly included in a “No” zone, can petition the city council for a re-zone of their property to allow it to become a “Yes” property. But he added, it seemed to be the consensus among the citizens group, as well as the city planning commission, that vacation home rentals should be located primarily near the ocean on the west side of Highway 101. However, there was push back from vacation home owners who have property around Devils Lake who called the “west of 101” approach overly strict. One property owner said vacation rentals around Devils Lake, well east of 101, are lucrative and should be allowed to flourish.
Opinions among those in the audience bounced back and forth – one property owner hinting that if they don’t award already established vacation properties a “yes” designation, there will be a court battle.
The council took it all in and, to no surprise, said it needs more time to think it over. The council closed the public hearing but agreed to keep the public record open for more written comments, all of which must be in the hands of the city clerk recorder no later than 5pm, July 16th. The council indicated it would go over the mountains of information and read any new written testimony in time to try to make a decision on the new city laws regulating vacation home rentals on July 22nd. That meeting begins at 6pm.
In other council business, they learned that the city will be conducting a Transportation System Plan Open House on Thursday, June 27th, from 4 to 6pm at the Lincoln City Cultural Center. Expect to see a lot of hanging maps and comment forms waiting to be filled out telling city staff how people feel about local transportation in the years ahead.
And City Manager David Hawker announced that there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially christen the town’s new sewer plant with all of its upgrades that will make Lincoln City more able to meet discharge requirements under state and federal laws. The $20 million upgrade will be ground zero for snipping and clapping on July 15th at 1pm. The lingering and chatting may last until 3pm. But probably not the cake.