Letters to editor

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I am writing in support of Ordinance 86 passed recently by the Tillamook County Commissioners to collect a quarterly fee on short term rental owners to support workforce housing.

I am a short-term rental owner. I’ve lived in North County for over 40 years and during those years have started and worked at a number of community-based non-profits both as staff and volunteer. Similar to many I have also pieced together an income from various forms of self-employment. None of this work has provided anything for me to live on in these, my later years.

Thus the good income from the vacation rental I own is the bulk of my retirement income. And it does indeed take a house out of the reach of folks who live and work here. The data shows that this is true of other such vacation rentals.

While I don’t like the idea of paying an additional fee (and don’t look forward to the hassle of additional quarterly reporting), I do like the idea of a tax supporting housing for folks who live and work here. In fact, it is an issue I’ve long been passionately active on behalf of over the years. I’m pleased that the ordinance provides for 75% of the revenues to go towards housing. The other 25% goes to enhancing law enforcement necessitated by the visitors to our community. These visitors are a vital resource and their stays here are enhanced by the quality of our communities and our care for each other within our communities.

I am happy to do my share. And I hope other jurisdictions will do the same.

I thank the County Commissioners and the Housing Commission for their continuing efforts to ease challenges of housing shortages.

-Lane deMoll, Nehalem 


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(1) comment


Although I support the County in their effort to find a solution to the current lack of affordable housing here, I think some of the assumptions made here are false. Most of the Short Term Rental housing used by visitors to the coast is at the upper end of the housing market ( i.e. people want to be as close as possible to the ocean, generally ), and will NEVER be considered "low income housing". It's not the STR market that has driven up costs here for lower income residents, but low wages and commensurate lack of economic development.

Rural Counties across America that have very little in the way of tourism suffer from similar housing issues. Better jobs from wise economic development attracts the attention of developers who then see profit in building more housing. Low income subsidized housing just perpetuates a low wage, no new development cycle that doesn't solve the long term problems, and actually creates barriers to encouraging employers paying higher wages, and disincentives for developers who need to profit from any new construction in the county. Here are some of the real barriers to affordable housing:

Zoning restrictions, which create a shortage of zoned high-density sites and prohibit the addition of “missing middle” units in single-family neighborhoods;

Escalating and misaligned fee structures, such as impact and linkage fees charged per unit instead of square footage. Poorly calibrated inclusionary housing exacerbated by rapidly changing market conditions. Lengthy review processes that add cost and allow for manipulation by growth opponents.

If you look at the Housing Affordability map here, you will see there are many areas of the Western US that have very low rates of Short Term Rental housing, but still have similar affordability issues to Tillamook County: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=1419fe7ee70c4267a7258eb59a9a824c

The takeaway? It's NOT the STR market that is driving affordability here, but a complex mix of problems that can't be solved by taxing Short Term Rentals.

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