CANNON BEACH - The Clatsop County Board of Commissioners is inviting public comment on proposed regulations for vacation rentals in Arch Cape.

The board will hold a special public hearing on Wednesday starting at 6 p.m. at Cannon Beach City Hall council chambers, 163 E. Gower St. The commissioners are meeting in Cannon Beach for the convenience of Arch Cape residents and property owners.

The rental ordinance was proposed by Arch Cape property owner Robert Gregg, who drafted the rules in response to what he said were growing problems with traffic, garbage and noise from nearby homes rented out to large groups. The ordinance requires short-term rentals in Arch Cape to be licensed with restrictions on the number of people who can stay in a unit, on-street parking and other issues.

The ordinance generated heavy opposition from many Arch Cape property owners who argued that the proposed rules amounted to an unnecessary burden on their right to rent out their residences in the small south-county community.

The county planning commission gave preliminary approval to the ordinance in June, after Gregg made several changes to it in response to opponents' concerns. Gregg planned to attend the upcoming public hearing to discuss his proposal.

The Board of Commissioners reviewed the proposed ordinance in a work session Sept. 3 and had several questions and concerns. County Counsel Blair Henningsgaard and Interim County Administrator Debra Kraske met with Commissioners Helen Westbrook and Lylla Gaebel and planning commission Chairperson Lynn Leland to develop an alternative ordinance clarifying the meaning of the original document and improving the county's ability to enforce the regulations.

The alternatives include:

• An annual permit with the initial permit being valid until July 1, 2005. Gregg proposed a five-year permit. Staff proposes an annual fee of $79.

• Defining a short-term rental as a dwelling rented for up to 30 consecutive nights, instead of 14 consecutive nights.

• Adding definitions for "rental," "rented" and "cooking facilities."

• Prohibiting guesthouses that are lawful nonconforming uses for short-term rentals to continue such activity. There are currently no guesthouses that would qualify.

• Revising the purpose of the ordinance to regulate short-term rentals to enhance livability and safety in the Arch Cape residential neighborhoods.

• Requiring an owner to obtain a short-term rental permit whenever a dwelling unit is to be used for short-term rental purposes.

• Requiring a new home inspection certification whenever modifications requiring a building permit are made, in addition to the five-year renewal requirement.

• Requiring garbage be removed weekly.

• Requiring the rental permit with owner contact information to be displayed inside the entrance of a rental and provides for copies of the permit for adjacent property owners within 100 feet.

• Requiring owners ensure current and accurate information is given to the county.

• Revising code compliance procedures to follow county code.

• Allowing the hearings body to bar an owner found in violation of the permit requirements from obtaining a short-term rental permit for up to five years.

• Requiring a property owner found to be in violation of the ordinance to reimburse the county for enforcement costs.

Currently, the county does not regulate short-term rentals in the unincorporated areas. If adopted, the proposed ordinance would apply to the Arch Cape Rural Community Residential zone.

Copies of the board's complete agenda packet, including Gregg's proposal and the staff's alternative amendments, are available at the Clatsop County Community Development Department, 800 Exchange St., Suite 300, Astoria, or by calling 325-8611. Copies can also be viewed at the public libraries in Seaside, Warrenton and Astoria.

County staff is recommending that the Board of Commissioners, after listening to public testimony on Nov. 5, continue the hearing to Dec. 3 to allow more time for public review and comment.

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