NEWPORT — The city of Newport’s work group guiding implementation of its two-year-old short-term rental ordinance met Sept. 14 and was provided an update on licenses and enforcement.
Following Newport City Council’s May 2019 adoption of code regulating the operation of short-term rentals (those lasting 29 days or less) and limiting new licenses to a Vacation Rental Overlay Zone, within which the total number of licenses are capped, city council created a Short-Term Rental Ordinance Implementation Work Group to evaluate the success of the measure.
The group, composed of two members of city council, two at-large Newport residents, a member of the Newport Planning Commission, the city manager and a representative of the vacation rental industry, meets quarterly.
During its Sept. 14 meeting, Community Development Director Derrick Tokos told the work group there were currently 191 licensed short-term rentals in the city. The cap established in 2019 is 176, but it only applies to the overlay zone, an L-shaped region stretching several blocks north from the Bayfront and covering west of Highway 101 from north Nye Beach to South Beach. Forty-five licenses outside the overlay zone were grandfathered in, with the idea they would eventually be eliminated as the properties are sold or repurposed.
There are currently 145 licenses in the overlay zone and 38 outside, seven fewer of the latter than when the ordinance went into effect, though the number is unchanged from the previous year. Two licensed rentals are bed and breakfasts and six are home shares, which do not count toward the cap.
Tokos said there were eight properties within the overlay zone for which licenses were not renewed in August that still had 12 months to apply, so there are only 23 licenses up for grabs. His department will soon begin offering those to owners on the waitlist.
There are 78 properties in the city whose owners are awaiting a chance for a short-term rental business license, 18 more than in September. Tokos said those joining the wait list now would have a three- to four-year wait to be offered a license.
“It takes several months for a new short-term rental to go through the licensing and inspection program,” Tokos said, so potential licensees would likely aim to open up for next year’s tourist season.
“We find there are a significant number of people on the waitlist who, when you do get to them, they’re not ready,” he said. “There are also some who would not be eligible because there is already a vacation rental on the same street segment.” If a property isn’t ready for licensure when the city offers, it drops to the bottom of the waitlist, Tokos said. There have been 11 licenses issued during 2021 to properties from the waitlist.
Newport Police Department Community Service Officer Jim Folmar, one of two community service officers responsible for enforcement of the city’s rental regulations, said complaints through the online portal and hotline had been light since May.
“We’ve only had 14 complaints, some of them are actually duplicates,” Folmar said. Some were for issues unrelated to enforcement, such as inability to access a unit, while several were closed after the officer was unable to independently verify the complaint or reach the complainant.
One citation letter was issued, Folmar reported, and two alleged illegal rentals were issued cease and desist letters.
There was some discussion regarding a property listed as a long-term rental about which there had been several complaints, alleging it was being rented for shorter than a month. Work group member Jamie Michel, of Sweet Homes Vacation Getaways, said there was a trend of multiple buyers pooling to purchase coastal properties and splitting time between them. She attributed the trend to overregulation.
‘They aren’t going to be selling any nights, they aren’t going to be advertising, they’re just copartners,” Michel said. This results in transient use that can be as disturbing to neighbors as a vacation rental but is a use by right.
Work group member Sandy Roumagoux said she knew of at least half a dozen such properties in Lincoln County.