Clatsop County Commissioners to Vote on Strict Limits for Vacation Rentals in Beachfront Communities

The Clatsop County Board of Commissioners will consider two competing proposals this week, one of which would impose strict limits on where to allow vacation rental homes in unincorporated areas.

Commissioners will decide whether to restrict short-term rental licenses in residential areas to the unincorporated community of Arch Cape in the south end of the county and ban them in other non-residential areas. county incorporated.

The council will also consider a separate proposal that would revise the county’s code regulating short-term rentals in all residential areas, a step toward formally recognizing rentals that are not explicitly permitted under the existing zoning code.

The issue of short-term rentals has become a lightning rod in coastal communities. Some year-round county residents have complained that vacationers are creating a nuisance and that the proliferation of vacation homes is driving up home prices. The possibility of limiting holiday homes, meanwhile, has raised concerns among rental property owners and some business owners who fear the proposed order will deter visitors and curb lodging tax revenue. County.

Incorporated cities have their own rules for vacation rentals, so places like Astoria and Seaside would not be affected. But rental landlords in other unincorporated parts of the county would lose their short-term rental licenses upon renewal.

It’s unclear how the commission is inclined to vote on the proposals.

The seemingly contradictory proposals deal with slightly different rules, county spokesman Tom Bennett said. He said one relates to the county’s zoning code, which determines what types of buildings are allowed in different zones. The other sets operating standards for rental homes throughout the county, except for Arc Cape, for which the county has separate rules.

Residents opposed to the proliferation of vacation rentals have argued that short-term rentals should not be allowed on rural land, where the zoning code is silent on the subject. The county, however, issued short-term rental licenses in those areas, said Dan Kearns, an attorney hired to advise some Clatsop County residents on land use issues.

If the zoning ordinance limiting short-term rentals passes, it would be the latest example of a coastal community limiting vacation rentals due to concerns about livability and rising housing prices. In Lincoln County last November, voters passed a measure to phase out short-term rentals in unincorporated parts of the county over the next five years.

Late last year, the county commission imposed a temporary moratorium on new short-term rental permits. The moratorium, originally scheduled to expire in December, has now been extended until April 28.

In February, Bennett said, county commissioners asked staff to write stricter rules, but continue to allow short-term rentals in all residential areas.

After reviewing the proposal, however, the county planning commission recommended that the council only allow short-term rentals in Arch Cape.

Bennett declined to say where the county’s vacation rentals are located, citing a county ordinance that prohibits disclosing information about individual transient lodging tax revenues.

But county documents to be presented at next week’s meeting show there are 186 licensed short-term rentals in unincorporated Clatsop County. If the county commission approves the new ordinance, only 77 of those permits could be renewed.

County staff estimated this would equate to a loss of nearly $500,000 a year in lodging tax revenue.

Public comments written to council over the past two years showed broad dissatisfaction with the way the county had so far handled short-term rentals and concerns about their spread.

Some have complained that short-term tenants were crossing their property to get to the beach, littering the area and making noise late into the night.

‘Renters/vacationers have no idea what community or county rules are, and it shouldn’t be up to me to police them by calling the hotline,’ wrote county resident Terry Andrews, referring to a line residents can call to report violations. Andrews said even with such a line present, the county often doesn’t enforce the rules.

Several owners, estate agents and coastal visitors, however, have written to the commission to express their concerns about the financial losses that could result from the limitation of holiday rentals.

Linda Needham wrote that she and her husband are cleaning homes in Clatsop County and the impact of the ban on short-term rentals will further strain their finances as they try to recover from lost business during the pandemic.

Bobak Baradar, owner of a rental property in Clatsop County, said the proposal would effectively impede his ability to rent out his home.

“From our perspective, business owners and vacation rental owners are unrepresented — they’re ignoring all of us,” said Baradar, a Beaverton resident.

Some permanent residents of the coast have also expressed concern that short-term rentals are driving up housing costs and reducing the already limited supply of affordable housing for people living there full-time.

“We hear weekly, if not daily, of valuable, talented and skilled locals and their families who cannot find housing, and it breaks our hearts to see every home that sells converted into (short-term rentals) , with out-of-town corporations and businesses outbidding locals who just need a place to live,” Beth Radich, a resident of unincorporated Clatsop County, wrote to the planning commission. in March.

Baradar said he’s not buying the complaint that rental housing is eating away at housing supply for year-round residents.

“For the housing market across the United States, prices are skyrocketing and homes are selling above asking price,” he said. “They’re trying to use vacation rentals as an excuse for this, but housing prices in the United States don’t make sense.”

The commission will discuss the orders on Wednesday and likely vote on both on April 27, according to a staff report.

— Jayati Ramakrishnan

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