Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tourism Impacts of Vacation Rentals in Lincoln City, Oregon

This article is from a presentation to citizens of Lincoln City, Oregon, where discussions about enacting further restrictions on already heavily regulated Vacation Rental Dwellings (VRDs) is ongoing.  Lincoln city is a small community about about 8000 people on the central Oregon Coast.

Tourism information about Lincoln City, Oregon is limited, but a 2010 study of Lincoln County by Dean Runyan Associates suggests that tourism:
  • generated $440 million of area spending last year
  • generated $20 million in area tax receipts.
  • supported over 5,600 area jobs with paychecks totaling about $120 million.

The study also says that:
  • county-wide, 5% of all tourist spending came from families staying in vacation rentals.
  • VR guests spent $21.5 million in the area in 2010.
  • 17,000 individual families spend an average of $400 to $500 per trip while staying in VRs.

Lincoln City’s Visitors & Convention bureau puts the percentage of visitors that stay in family vacation rentals within city limits up around 12%.

Do you think tourism is important to Lincoln City’s economy?
  • Lincoln City does.  It spends about $1.5 million per year to encourage tourists to come to our town.
  • Lincoln City Businesses do.  They regularly spend to bring tourists in from out of town.
  • Vacation rental owners and agencies also know this is important.  They spend over 1/2 million dollars each year to bring tourists to their homes.

Where does city government stand on family Vacation Rentals?  Past statements by city officials talk about elimination of VRDs and concern that the rentals compete with area businesses.  Recent statements suggest that the issue should be discussed more before the city takes additional action.

We would suggest:
  1. It is not a city government’s job to favor the competitive interests of hotel/motel owners or others over the interests of those who have invested in homes and rent them out to families on a part time basis.
  2. City government should work to build community, provide leadership, and encourage economic development, while representing the interests of all citizens and taxpayers, including those who own vacation rentals.
  3. If Lincoln City is going to devote $1.5 million per year to bringing tourists into the city, it would be counter-productive to legislate family vacation rentals out of existence— eliminating up to 12% of our tourists.
  4. No one informed about VRDs would conclude that they don’t contribute substantially to the Lincoln City’s tourism goals.
  5. Properly managed, VRDs represent an opportunity for Lincoln City’s economy.  
  6. The city should work with VRD owners and agencies to take advantage of this opportunity.

VRD owners agree that it is time to re-open discussions on VRD regulation.

Current regulations penalize VRD owners for things like not having a yard landscaped a certain way, while neighboring residents are not required to comply with the same laws.  VRD owners can also be penalized for illegal actions of guests.  This is not useful or relevant regulation.

VRD owners are ready to work with the city to seek real solutions to real problems.  We expect our expertise on the subject to be recognized, and our concerns to be given equal weight alongside the concerns of other taxpayers.

Doug Coates
Oregon Association of Vacation Rental Owners
doug.coates@oravro.com

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Thoughtful comments are welcome, whether you are in favor of vacation rentals or concerned about the impacts of VRs on your community. Comments that contain advertising, including ads for properties, will be deleted.