Sunday, September 9, 2012

Lincoln City, Oregon Moves into the next phase of VRD Discussions

Lincoln City, Oregon will hold the last of a series of 8 meetings that were set up to allow representatives of VRDs, businesses and residents to develop a consensus about the future of short term rentals in the city.  The city has been buried in controversy about VRDs for several years, and the controversy got worse when a 1989 law was thrown out in favor of a series of 3 new ordinances that more severely restricted vacation rentals, starting in 2007.

In 2011, a local group of VR owners and property managers formed the Lincoln City Vacation Home Association, and formed an alliance with the Oregon Association of Vacation Rentals so they could work towards a more sensible approach to vacation rental regulation in the city.  Since then the group has conducted a vocal media campaign that explains the benefits that VRs bring to the city, and discusses the negative impacts of over-regulation.   Generally the group agrees that some level of regulation can be good for everyone, but want's regulations to be targeted towards documented issues.

Many would say that the city's mayor, Dick Anderson, wants further restrictions on VRDs, but the consensus process was done at his initiative when he proposed hiring a "Consensus Builder" consultant to bring people together.  As the series of consensus building meetings nears its end, many would say it has been a positive process for everyone to participate in, in spite of some flaws in the process.

The Consensus Group seems to be nearing a series of final recommendation that will be sent back to the mayor and the city council.  The list includes these features:

  • designation of some sort of overlay zone that defines which R1 zoned areas will allow VRDs and which will not.  Under this proposal most parts of the town, where the majority of the VRDs are, would be defined as VRD inclusion zones.
  • encouraging Realtors to notify home buyers if they are buying in a VRD inclusion zone.
  • removal of all provisions from the VRD laws concerning parking and landscaping, so that these issues can be managed city-wide, on an equal basis for all types of homes.
  • improvements in the ways that trash and noise complaints are handled.
  • eliminating enforcement problems in the law, such as allowing VRD owners to be cited for actions of guests, or allowing VRD owners to be cited by both the police and the VRD enforcement officers.

However, the consensus group has no mechanism in place to ensure that its recommendations are successfully translated into a new set of VRD laws, so the future it still uncertain for city VRDs.   The mayor has promised to work with the results that come out of the group, but no one is sure how that will play out.

Doug Coates

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