Oregon coast town debates whether to curb rentals
LINCOLN CITY — An Oregon coastal city where property values are rising faster than incomes is struggling to find a compromise between owners of vacation rentals and year-round residents.
Tourism is a mainstay in Lincoln City, population about 8,000.
There are about 500 vacation-rental homes sprinkled throughout the residential zones, and the city is considering whether to regulate their growth by, for example, limiting where vacation properties can be located, limiting rental days and setting safety standards.
The median household income in Lincoln City rose by about 10 percent between 2000 and 2011, while the median house price rose by about 45 percent during that time period, the Salem Statesman Journal reports.
City Council member Chester Noreikis said regulations are needed because the price of rental homes has made it difficult for Lincoln City residents to buy property in their own city.
“Right now, there is very little affordable housing in the city,” he said.
But regulations could hurt the tourism industry and jeopardize jobs, workers and property owners said.
“I'm frustrated about it because it's our sole employment,” said Sandy Hecht, who cleans rental homes for a living. “I'm done with my job by the time my kids are getting out of school, so I can be there with them. ... I know four other moms that clean beach rentals that depend on this income too.”
Gene Scrutton, who owns eight rental homes and manages 22 others, said the talk about regulations has been underway three years.
“That's the frustrating part of it,” he said. “It's been three years we've been in limbo not knowing if we could keep our business.”
City Manager David Hawker said the city is searching for a solution that targets new rentals and has the smallest impact on established rentals. “There's a certain amount of hysteria around this effort,” he said.
Information from: Statesman Journal, http://www.statesmanjournal.com