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Letter: David Townsend re Gearhart short-term rentals

Published on October 13, 2017 12:01AM

I read Mayor Matt Brown’s letter with sadness (“What Gearhart repeal means,” The Daily Astorian, Sept. 22). Yes, I own a “political firm out of California.” But my wife, Sharon, grew up in Portland, spent her summers in this area, and has been coming to Gearhart for 60 years. We have owned a house in Gearhart for 17 years now, been part of the Homeowner’s Association, and support the volunteer fire department. We have paid more than $200,000 in property taxes. We have known Matt for many years and consider him a friend, so this is not personal.

And yes, we use our home as a short-term rental — about 90 days a year. Why does the mayor make us out to be “outsiders”? What else isn’t being said?

The mayor is not telling you that our measure ensures that all septic and safety measures that already apply to every home in Gearhart will apply to vacation rentals, as well. He didn’t tell you that only 84 families will be able to rent their homes as a short-term rental — ever.

He didn’t tell you that your property values are being affected. One day you may want to sell your home and the buyer could say, “I can afford to buy this property only if I can rent it out occasionally.” But current law prevents a buyer from doing that. So in order to sell your house you lower the price … a lot. Is this the mayor’s plan to provide more affordable housing in Gearhart, by lowering your property values?

Measure 4-188 does three things: It protects property rights for all Gearhart homeowners, not just the 84 who currently have vacation rental permits; it requires all homeowners to follow existing safety and septic rules; and it requires a vote of the people for any changes that restrict or take away property rights of Gearhart homeowners.

Vacation rentals have always been a part of Gearhart. They are not a threat to our “quiet residential community,” nor are they “high commercial use,” as the mayor claims — they are unoccupied much of the year.

These are distortions, like claiming that my wife and I are “outsiders.” The mayor has unfortunately proven that “the first casualty in war and politics is the truth.”

David Townsend



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