Tillamook’s Short-Term Rental Advisory Committee was presented with an initial draft for an update to the ordinance governing the properties at their meeting on January 10, 2023.
The draft sought to incorporate the committee’s suggestions to update ordinance 84, which currently regulates short-term rentals in the county, and will be revised following their feedback.
Director of Community Development Sarah Absher told the committee and over 100 members of the public in-person and online about the contents of the proposed ordinance.
The most substantial item in the first draft of the proposed new ordinance was occupancy limits for short-term rentals.
Where ordinance 84 remains silent on the issue, the new ordinance would see a maximum of two adults allowed per bedroom, plus two additional adults for the property overall. There would also be a further allowance for two children.
The ordinance would cap the number of bedrooms for regular short-term rentals at four, leading to a cap of ten adult, overnight visitors, plus two children. The ordinance also allows for “estate home” properties with up to six bedrooms.
Six additional guests would be allowed during the daytime, but events would be prohibited unless the guest had applied for proper permits from the county.
Absher said that the county is working to update the ordinance regulating temporary property use to address issues raised by daytime guests and events hosted at short-term rental properties.
In addition to clarifying these maximum occupancy limits, the new ordinance defines bedrooms, using a similar definition to the county housing code.
The existing ordinance did not define bedrooms, only referring to “sleeping areas,” which had led to creative designations by property owners according to Absher.
The new ordinance would also address parking, requiring one on-site parking spot per bedroom.
The proposal suggests that the county eschew the term “permit” for short-term rental approval documents and instead call them “registration certificates.”
Using the “certificate” verbiage is one of several tactics deployed in the draft that aims to avoid the ordinance becoming a land use regulation.
Land use regulations in Oregon are subject to heavy legal scrutiny and review by their own board of appeals.
That system has already complicated Lincoln County’s short-term rental regulation efforts and could do the same for Tillamook should its ordinance fall under the land use umbrella.
Daniel Kearns, the lawyer who has been advising the committee, has emphasized throughout the process that the new ordinance should address short-term rental properties from a business rather than land use perspective.
To that end, the first draft included a clause stating that the ordinance was not intended to regulate land use. However, a disgruntled public commenter repeatedly interrupted the meeting to question that assertion.
A major decision remaining for the committee is whether and which limits to place on the number of short-term rental properties in the county.
That question was a topic of discussion at the committee’s December meeting, at which the committee asked staff for more information on the tools that could limit the number of short-term rentals in the county
The initial draft included language for a cap in unincorporated communities and cities’ urban growth boundaries and a 250-foot buffer zone around short-term rental properties outside of those areas.
Absher was quick to point out that this part of the initial draft was simply a placeholder and would be amended or removed at the committee’s direction.
Another area the proposed ordinance looked to improve was nuisance mitigation surrounding short-term rental properties.
In addition to occupancy caps and parking requirements, the ordinance would include beefed up garbage, noise and lighting regulations.
The Board of County Commissioners already greenlit the creation of a hotline run by Granicus LLC that will field such complaints about short-term renters before contacting the owner’s representative to respond. That hotline has a planned launch date of early March.
Under the proposed ordinance, designated representatives for the properties would have 20 minutes to respond to complaints with a phone call, and 30 minutes to respond to a repeated complaint in person.
Application and renewal fees would both see a bump of $50, from $350 to $400 and $250 to $300 respectively.
The ordinance mandates an initial inspection to confirm the number of bedrooms and compliance with other parts of the ordinance and reinspection every three years.
Committee members received copies of the draft the afternoon prior to the meeting and will now review the document before beginning discussions on revisions at their February meeting.
Following Absher’s summary of the document, public commenters, most of whom owned short-term rental properties, laid into the proposed ordinance.
They expressed consternation at the number of regulations being proposed to dictate the management of their properties, arguing they were already exceeding proposed standards.
One woman said that she was insulted at the tenor of the conversation about short-term rentals that provide valuable revenue to the county coffers.
Multiple commenters mentioned that they would like to see the same standards applied to all properties in the county if they were to be applied to theirs.
After reaching the end of the scheduled two and a half hours of meeting time with multiple citizens still wishing to comment, Absher asked them to submit their comments online.
She also said that the proposed ordinance draft is online, alongside the current ordinance 84.
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