It’s time for other opinions on the future of Short-Term Rentals (STR’s). The organization calling themselves 15nieghborhoods is driving a petition initiative that would stop the legal use of property in unincorporated Lincoln County. Their claims include that STR’s take away from available “affordable” housing, bring noise and nuisances and are a detriment to unincorporated Lincoln County.
The Chief Petitioners of this initiative all live in my “neighborhood” of Miroco, south of Depoe Bay. Our area has approximately 26 homes and 5 STR’s. This area boasts no true family type setting, there are no school aged children and in fact is mainly retired, semi-retired or vacation use ownership. I doubt anyone could consider us “affordable” housing. The three Chief Petitioners market values of their homes, as identified by the Lincoln County Tax Assessor, range in value from $500,00 up to $1 million.
STR’s allow visitors to enjoy the short-term use of homes that they may never be so blessed to own. Ocean front/view, crashing waves against basalt rocks, whales so close to shore you can hear them breath. Our area also has an overlook, Rocky Creek Wayside, is just below Otter Crest Loop road offering scenic one-way paved road, hiking and biking trail up to the top of Cape Foulweather with views of Yaquina Head lighthouse.
STR’s provide the County some revenue via lodging taxes but STR’s also provide jobs to management companies, county residents involved in services such as cleaning, maintenance, lawn care, and retailers.
Lincoln County needs to closely monitor, regulate and license STR’s. The Lincoln County Commissioners and the Lincoln County Legal Counsel are working with residents, STR operators, STR management companies and other interested parties to strengthen rules.
The answer to STR’s is not in banning them. Lincoln County Legal Counsel, Wayne Belmont, has even advised the County Commissioners that the effort to ban STR’s as outlined in the initiative petition faces dubious legal prospects.
In full disclosure I am an owner of a Miroco Short-Term Rental as well as a full-time resident of Miroco. I have observed little to any problems in our particular area with renters.
My neighborhood is a member of the 15neighborhoods Coalition. We are gathering Petition signatures for a Short Term Rental (STR) Ballot Measure for residential neighborhoods. Go towww.15neighborhoods.com to download a petition signature sheet, sign and date (2 places), and send it to P.O. Box 390, Depoe Bay. All registered Lincoln County voters can sign.
I was unfamiliar with Short Term Vacation Rental (STR/VRD) business until January 18, 2018, when I found myself ‘sandwiched between two short-term rentals, each licensed for 11 people.
My initial response was how “These houses must have huge septic tanks” because so many renters were there. Through research, I learned that the County had no septic records for these houses. These two STRs were built in the 1940s, with various additions added over the years. [Before 1971, septic permits were not required. My house was built in 1999. DEQ requires that I contract with an inspector for two inspections annually who then sends an annual Report to DEQ.
Living next to an STR is very inconvenient. Picking up garbage or calling a (not really) Local Contact to pick up garbage was tiresome but necessary to keep the rats and raccoons at bay. Having 20+ people show up for parties and being told it was OK so long as only 11 people spend the night was unsettling.
Along the way, I also learned that the Maximum Occupancy Limits were unenforceable anyway because the Sheriff would not enter the premises without a warrant to count heads. Assuming permission was granted, and more renters than licensed were present, it was up to the renters to decide who had to leave (and probably return after the Sheriff left, as happened once next to us). No record was kept because citations are not issued.
What if they are also violating the Noise requirement after 10 pm? This is not an STR-specific law. It applies to all living in unincorporated County. They’d be told to pipe down. If they did, there would be no citation even if the Sheriff observed it. This is only a misdemeanor in Lincoln County. Not worth the time if the citation is appealed, and the Deputy would have to appear as a witness. This is true of parking, too, another violation that applies Countywide.
The Property Manager and the Investor have NO CONSEQUENCES. The “cost” of STR management is passed on to the neighbors (1) as the “first responders” to call in a complaint and (2) pay taxes so the Sheriff can add deputies and administrative staff to process applications and respond to complaints.
Then I learned that I lived in Lincoln County’s most restrictive Residential Zone (R-1-A). This Residential Zone is so restrictive that not even Bed and Breakfast Inns are allowed. I told County Counsel about this only to learn that “short term rentals” were a residential use according to the Oregon Supreme Court and allowed in Residential Zones.
I was snookered. This is not true now and was not true when Lincoln County adopted its STR regulations in 2016, according to my attorney.
By now, I started paying more attention to the long term housing shortage problem. I heard that housing was not affordable and increasingly unavailable at any price. I heard from a government official that more STR business licenses were issued than new construction permits in 2018-2019. It felt like many problems were interrelated and that the vacation home industry was the nexus.
The Goal of 15neighborhoods is to restrict and eventually phase-out STRs only from our Residential neighborhoods over five years. STRs are useful, but should have been licensed only in the County’s Tourist/Commercial Zones.
Our website includes Tabs for Community Response, Research and Resources, How to File a Complaint with the County, and FAQs. Behind the Tab “Views from the Steering Committee” are thoughtful essays, such as:
Want a Problem You Can Fix on May 18?
Commissioners: Who is Your Constituent?
Short Term Vacation Renting is an Extractive Industry
Are Rural Neighborhoods the STR Industry’s First Responders?
Why 15neighborhoods started an Electronic Petition Drive during a Pandemic
Violations without Consequences
The Newly Unhoused: Short and Long Term Solutions
Short-term rentals: Compliance and Enforcement
Growth and Climate Refugees
County Crumbles Under the Weight of Too Much Growth and Not Enough Careful Planning
Time to Revise our Thinking about Emergency STR Evacuation Planning in Residential Neighborhoods
Check us out. Send us questions and comments through “Contact Us” on the website.