VIA Oregon continues to submit news articles, run half page ads in local papers, submit supporting documents to the Lincoln County workshop site and provide links to their website outlining the financial benefits of short-term rentals (STRs) and the revenue they generate within Lincoln County. Most recently, they again presented these same numbers in the reader feedback section of the News-Times.
VIA Oregon only came up with these numbers in opposition to the county’s anticipated STR ordinance changes and a proposed ballot measure that would impact residential neighborhoods only in unincorporated Lincoln County. Both of these issues would affect less than 600 (529 to be exact) STRs.
Based on the fact that there are only 529 STRs in unincorporated Lincoln County, let’s see what the numbers equate to for each STR in a typical year:
1. “STR’s employ 20 percent of the county workforce, creating 3,600 jobs.” This equates to 6.8 full time workers for each STR. That’s a lot of full time workers for each STR when you only see two or three housekeepers working an hour or two after the renters leave. What are the other workers doing, and who are they?
2. “The 3,600 jobs provide $192,000,000 per year in wages.” This equates to those workers earning more than $53,000 annually in pay. Housekeepers only average $15 per hour. With 6.8 workers per STR, that equates to $360,000 of employee wages generated yearly per STR. Does that sound right?
3. “Lincoln County STR renter visitors spend $105,000,000 on local travel.” That equates to the renters for each STR spending $198,000 for travel. With gas averaging $4 per gallon, that’s 49,500 gallons of gas used to get to and from each STR. That’s a lot of gas or Leer Jet travel.
4. “STR owners and managers generate $11,200,000 per year to local government coffers, helping to support emergency services.” We presume they are talking about the Transient Room Tax. Lincoln County’s 2020 budget shows $1,225,000 from room tax for the whole county. How are the STRs in unincorporated Lincoln County generating another $10,000,000 for the “local government coffers”?
5. “Families no longer wish to stay in hotel rooms without a kitchen or place to gather … $27,000,000 is going to our local restaurants.” How is each STR generating $18,000 in restaurant business each year while the renters are eating in?
To support VIA Oregon’s numbers, the statements above would indicate that the renters of each STR spend more than $1,700 every single day of the year, all without even accounting for the significant income the owners and property managers realize from these investment properties. How does this work when advertised “dynamic pricing” shows nightly rates as low as $110? Please, you do the math because the numbers simply don’t add up.
Remember, the county STR ordnance changes and Ballot Measure 21-203 only apply to the 529 STRs in unincorporated Lincoln County.
Bob Sulek is resident of Pacific Shores, a subdivision located in an unincorporated area of Lincoln County.