Monday, July 1, 2013

A Soldier Speaks Up about Vacation Rental Regulation

Here is a letter written by a member two US Soldiers about how increased regulation of vacation rentals in Lincoln City, Oregon will impact them.  It raises many interesting questions about our country and what is "appropriate regulation".

Mayor Anderson,

My name is <name withheld*> and I live in El Paso, TX (Fort Bliss), Seoul, South Korea (Camp Casey) and sometimes Baghdad, Iraq (Camp Victory), soon my wife will be living in Kabul, Afghanistan (September '13 to Aug '14), but our most favorite place to live is Lincoln City, Oregon. 

In fact over the past 10 years we enjoyed many vacations to Lincoln City in between our tours overseas, that we made the decision to save every dime we earned while deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom to purchase our dream retirement home in Lincoln City. After years of saving, our dream came true in May 2013. Although we have not had a chance to spend a single night in our dream home as of yet we expect to have the opportunity to do so next month as a celebration just days before my wife gets on a plane to Afghanistan.

Liz and I are combat veterans and your neighbors. We have been unable to take part in your discussions regarding vacation dwellings in Lincoln City due to our Active duty U.S. Army status. After reviewing what we could find online posted about the issue, we are in shock and scared about the decision you are about to make with home use restrictions.

It takes a lot of courage to make such a dramatic decision that will affect the lives of people and your neighbors. Apparently, my definition of courage differs from those who want to restrict the use of my dream home. If this restriction on use passes, it will become extremely difficult for us to fund the home improvements, landscaping improvements and even pay the mortgage as we intended with supplemental rental income. I would never want to be a supporter of such a decision that would affect my neighbors so dramatically as this will affect us.

I understand that my neighborhood (Taft) has families that want to restrict vacation homes due to many reasons, however it is not unanimous. Please do not allow any type of mafia style "who you know" make decisions that are good for them, without completely understanding the ramifications that will occur on the rest of us. If the issue is noise then enforce the noise ordinance. If the issue is parking then tow/ticket the cars. Don't take the course of action that provides hardship on families and dreams.

My screensaver on my Army computer is a picture of Lincoln City that has traveled around the world twice with me. As I went on missions through  neighborhoods ripe with tyranny and dictatorships where the government restricted what people could do with their land, I always thought about the greatest place on earth and how great of a place it is going to be for our retirement. Please don't make Lincoln City a place that also restricts people from having options, but rather enforce good order and discipline as it is written in current laws.

Over the history of the United States and treatment of Soldiers, there has been many issues with regard to protections and treatment when the Service member is not present to represent themselves/ take care of property etc... this became such a problem that congress created title 10 of U.S. Code and specifically the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act. 

I am not a lawyer, so I cannot guess to how this applies to the specific restrictions you are proposing on our home while we are deployed, but I can say that the spirit of the law does represent itself here. I challenge all who want to restrict the use of my home to really think about the spirit of protecting Soldiers during wartime and stand up for my right to use my home as it is needed. If we are unable to rent our home during a combat deployment protecting rights to freedom, I hope the streets are clear of cars, the neighbors don't play music too loudly and my neighbors view of the pacific is nothing short of breathtaking.
* the name of the soldier was withheld to respect his privacy, but may be released to appropriate parties upon request.


  1. We all appreciate your service and your intermittent housing needs. But, calling each week for noise and parking does nothing for keeping a residential character of a neighborhood. people each week, who are there to vacation and party. We live in a vacation area year round, and never planned on our neighborhood being a hotel district. What about OUR retirement dream? Its ruined by VRs now, the Town is losing productive citizens

  2. Its hard to fully address your statements without knowing more about your situation, but generally
    -- most VRs are not in party towns, and most VR owners that I know screen out partiers.
    -- there is nothing in law in most jurisdictions that allows for rental homes that are rented for short periods of time to be treated different than homes that are rented for a month at a time or longer.
    -- regulation to address documentable problems is appropriate
    -- regulation to address hearsay and NIMBY attitudes is irresponsible.
    -- I've been asking folks for a long time to show me that there are more loud parties and other problems at short term rentals than there are at other types of rental properties, and most people tell me they think it is the longer term rentals that create more problems.

    Despite the above, if you truly have problems "each week", you should be talking with property managers and owners to try to address the problem. If that doesn't work, a constructive approach to regulation, that shows as much respect for the property rights of others as you yourself would like, will often help solve the problems.


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.