My wife, Donna, and I moved to Gearhart from Portland just before the 2016 election. We learned about Gearhart’s short-term rental regulations while house hunting last year. Our home used to be a short-term rental. As Gearhart’s new residents, none of the city’s short-term rental law sounded extreme to us, just common sense provisions for the health and safety of the residents and the renters, as well as to protect the livability of the community.
The supporters of Measure 4-188 seem less interested in livability than in the potential profits to be had by the possibility of turning any house in Gearhart into a motel. That passion for profit, disguised as a defense of property rights, ignores the rights of residents to live in the community that they have invested in. While city government is open to amending the short-term rental code in the future — the proper course to balance between residents and renters — the opponents would throw out all regulation of short-term rentals.
The “repeal and replace” measure also seems to be a direct attack on the Gearhart city government. The prohibition of any future city council to act on short-term rental regulations without a public vote seems to be more of a slap in the face to the city leaders than anything else.
The Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals has upheld Gearhart’s right to regulate short-term rentals, simply stating that any Oregon city with a comprehensive plan has the right to enact regulations to abide by it. For me, that was the end of the discussion. The city hadn’t over-stepped its authority. The pro-rental lobby played their only card, the initiative petition that led to Measure 4-188.
The passage of Measure 4-188 isn’t a threat, it is a sentence, to a radically different Gearhart. By design, Gearhart has chosen to stay small, to preserve a close-knit community where neighbors remember each others’ names, where they wave and say hello when they see you. In Gearhart, even the dogs know each other.
I urge my treasured new neighbors to vote “no” on Measure 4-188. Residents have rights, too.