The road to Measure 21-203 has been long and rough:

• In early 2016, Gleneden Beach and Lincoln Beach homeowners sought help from Lincoln County commissioners to remedy the problem of “party houses” (unlicensed STRs) in their residential neighborhoods.

• In March, the commission rejected the zoning/land use approach to address the problem; they chose business license regulation that “allows operation of such rentals in a manner that respects and protects the livability of the neighborhoods….”

• In June, the commission reported “25 to 30 percent of the housing stock in our county is now being used as VRDs.”

• Ordinances passed (#487 and #490) prior to the short-term rental licensing program starting mid-December 2016. The sheriff’s office would be the licensing authority.

• In March 2020, the commissioners imposed a moratorium on STR licenses in unincorporated Lincoln County. More than 100 licenses had been issued during the previous year, greater than a 20 percent increase.

• Now, Measure 21-203 is on the ballot because the commissioners’ remedy, nearly 6 years earlier, has failed!

What did the business licensing program accomplish?

• Rapid growth in the number of STRs, with dense concentration in coastal neighborhoods “residential” zoned, not “tourist/commercial.”

• Influx of outside investors, shortage of homes, and rising cost of homes.

How has the remedy failed the neighborhoods in which these rentals are located?

• Ordinances have not fixed occupancy rates or septic system issues.

• The reporting system is a joke, with no real enforcement.

• Fitting businesses into residential zones is not respecting and protecting the livability of the neighborhoods.

How could the county commissioners meet the needs of both parties, the STR industry and residential property owners?

• Use both zoning/land use and business regulation models.

• Designate new land for future tourist/commercial use; promote STR, property management, and multi-family units there.

• Maintain the moratorium on STR licensing in unincorporated residential zones.

• Five-year phase out of STRs in residential zones outside city limits.

• Address occupancy rates and septic system issues.

• Address complaint/enforcement inefficiencies.

After nearly six years, it is clear: the STR remedy has missed the mark. Stop driving in circles. A business regulation model for additional tourist/commercial areas is needed. Have the infrastructure ready before adding more STRs. Commissioners: don’t make constituents in residential areas outside city limits your last priority. This could be a win-win. Don’t miss the mark, again!

Consider voting “yes” on Measure 21-203.

Linda Keehn


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