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Letter: Homes, not motels

Nancy Derrah re Gearhart short-term rentals

Published on July 7, 2017 12:01AM

Last changed on July 10, 2017 9:34AM


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.

Nancy Derrah

Gearhart



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