John Ross Ferrara / Today at 10:55 a.m. / Business, Community, Local government, Oregon
Curry County Commissioners discuss the possibility of regulating vacation rentals
The Curry County Council of Commissioners yesterday hosted an open community workshop to discuss the feasibility of regulating the estimated 400 vacation rentals currently operating in unincorporated areas of the county.
County Planning Director Becky Crockett answered questions from concerned commissioners, landowners and other community members at the meeting in an effort to resolve long-standing issues with these properties. These issues include noise, garbage, parking and behavior complaints, and the reduction in available long-term housing.
âWe’re basically at a crossroads on the vacation rental issue,â Crockett said at yesterday’s meeting. âThey have a positive influence in promoting tourism and bringing money to the community for vacation rental owners and businesses that serve vacationers. However, some have become vectors of nuisance violations and neighborhood complaints. “
Currently, the vacation rental industry in the unincorporated parts of Curry County is largely unregulated. Vacation rental owners are required to have county business licenses and pay a 7 percent transitional accommodation tax (implemented in 2019). However, the county has struggled to bring illegally operated properties into compliance in the absence of a more rigid system.
Of those 400 vacation properties, approximately 100 have current business licenses and 300 pay transitional accommodation taxes during the summer months.
While Curry County hopes to limit the occurrence of future vacation rentals, county employees have also expressed an interest in protecting its quality vacation rental businesses through the proposed regulations. Yesterday’s meeting was largely influenced by last month’s turnout in Lincoln County. After years of erroneous restrictions imposed by the Lincoln County Council of Commissioners, frustrated residents have voted to completely eliminate all short-term rentals in unincorporated areas of Coast County.
“A big reason for the success of this ballot measure was the fact that citizens repeatedly asked county commissioners to do a better job of enforcing vacation rentals due to the nuisance issues that existed,” said Crockett.
While Lincoln County has attempted to regulate its vacation rental industry only through a licensing program, Curry County will seek to impose restrictions through conditional land use permits – a strategy that the county says will protect current rental properties from voter referendum shutdown.
“What we are proposing is to regulate short term rentals through the land use process,” said Crockett. âEssentially requiring conditional administrative use for these to continue to operate. “
Crockett said this strategy will also provide minimum safety inspections to ensure properties are up to code, and allow enforceable fines and possibly a three strike rule, where non-compliant owners could lose their right to operate. .
âBeauty, from a county perspective, [in using land-use permits] do you have an advantage for the app, âshe said. “You know who the owner is, you have phone numbers, you know if they’re legal, you know if they’re outside of their license allocation, and you can also include in a conditional use administrative process.” , a provision for violations.
As the county also aims to prevent peer-to-peer vacation rentals from swallowing up additional homes and long-term rentals, residents like Holly Hatch – who manages about 20 vacation rental properties in the county – fear these regulations are unfair to homeowners – especially in the midst of a state moratorium on evictions.
âThe reality I have seen is that the majority, by far, of my vacation rental owners are in the owner vacation rental market either because they use the rental themselves or because they don’t want to be long-term owners because of the recent regulations that have been put in place by the state, âHatch told the Council of Commissioners at yesterday’s workshop.
Commissioner Chris Paasch assured community members at the meeting that the county did not want to eliminate its current short-term rental properties. However, limits could be placed on new short-term rentals.
“There could be a shutdown phase as we look at a moratorium of at least three, four or five years,” Paasch said. “We could consider a moratorium on the news [vacation rentals]. “
So far, planning director Becky Crockett said nothing had been written and the county was still keen to receive feedback from community members.
âNothing is written yet, and that’s part of why we’re doing this workshop: to determine what should be written in order to achieve the goals I heard today,â said Crockett. âIf we don’t do anything, we can come to the same connection as Lincoln County, where the commissioners did nothing and people were frustrated. We don’t want that to happen.