Among detractors of Measure 21-203, the popular argument is “property rights are sacred, therefore if I want to rent out my house 300 nights a year, then by golly no one but God almighty can stop me.”

When a large corporate timber owner is questioned about why his contractors logged a steep slope that will slide into a salmon spawning creek and inundate the local water treatment facility with debris, we get the same argument: "because the property is mine." These arguments, however, only work when the properties in question produce money for a broad base of stakeholders and local politicians. 

If my wife and I build a bathroom in our house, and we build it too close to the property line, the city can come in and have us tear it out. If my neighbor has too many disabled cars rusting out front and the guy down the road decides that the property is unsightly and reports it, then my neighbor will be fined by the city, and if he doesn't clean up the property, the city will send in a cleaning crew and haul away the vehicles at my neighbor's expense.   

In short, contrary to the proclamations of the Koch family, property rights is not a concept carved in stone atop Mount Sinai and handed over to Moses to preach to the world. 

What makes the bed and breakfast different from my bathroom is that the bed and breakfast is going to generate substantial income for an influential property management company and some of that cash will be passed along to pliant politicians, while my second bathroom will only benefit my family. It is not that property rights are sacred, it's that properties that generate cash windfalls for the well connected are sacred.

Lincoln County desperately needs affordable housing for its majority working class population, and passage of Measure 21-203, while it won't fix the affordable housing shortage problem, is nevertheless a place to start. 

Michael Edwards 

Lincoln City

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