With permanent housing in short supply countywide, the Gearhart City Council did well to pass the 2016 ordinance regulating and gradually phasing down short-term rentals. The beneficial result can already be seen: an increase in permanent residency, including long-term rentals.
According to state law, a short-term rental is for 30 days or less; locally, most short-term rentals are for the equivalent of a weekend, and can occur one after the other in the same house, in a series of disruptions to the surrounding neighborhood that include noise (loud parties, barking dogs, gunning engines, etc.), invasion of neighbors’ privacy, crowded on-street parking and traffic hazards, not to mention the silent hazards of littered garbage, overloaded septic systems and accelerated pollution of groundwater throughout the city. Short-term rentals contribute nothing to the “diversity” of the community; on the contrary, they shatter the very idea of community in a neighborhood.
By contrast, long-term rentals provide permanent housing for those who wish to settle in Gearhart for a month or more, to live and perhaps to earn a living wage within the Clatsop County economy, and to become good neighbors to nearby permanent residents.
Renting out the family cottage for a month or more is a traditional and viable means of covering the costs of ownership for seasonal Gearhart homeowners. Unlike the problematic case of short-term rentals, no special regulations are required by the city, since those long-term rentals are considered a residential, noncommercial use.
The “repeal and replace” petition now being promoted in Gearhart — the so-called “Gearhart Vacation Rental Ordinance Initiative” — if successful, would repeal the 2016 law that the City Council had worked on for so many years with so much public input.
The petition is a direct assault on city government, second-guessing the dedicated work of elected representatives: it would allow every single-family dwelling in Gearhart to be commercialized as a short-term rental, with little or no regulation as compared with the existing 2016 ordinance. The quiet small-town atmosphere of Gearhart would quickly disappear as the town transformed itself into a destination resort.
Citizens of Gearhart, please don’t let that happen. The “repeal and replace” initiative can only benefit absentee landlords who will profit from turning homes into motels.