WARRENTON — The City Commission is expected to approve code changes that will restrict single-family homes in residential areas from being turned into vacation rentals.

The commission conducted the first public hearing of the changes on Tuesday to allow nonowner occupied vacation rentals in commercial zones, but not in residential zones. Homestay lodging would be permitted in residential zones as long as the owner or representative lives on the property and is available 24/7.

Warrenton sign

Warrenton is looking into new rules on vacation rentals.

The city said homestay lodging will provide a small increase in lodging tax for the city, as well as provide homeowners the ability to generate revenue and offset housing costs.

The goal is to prevent vacation rentals from eating up limited housing stock.

A Clatsop County housing study in 2019 found that vacation rentals and second homes are taking up a substantial share of the housing stock and driving up rental and home prices. Nearly a third of homes in the county were vacant, according to the study, and construction of second homes is outpacing those for long-term residents.

Housing prices have continued to climb, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, with many people living in metro areas and out of out state looking to move to the North Coast.

“Having been on the county housing task force, there’s a ton of housing that has been gobbled up by people getting second homes and renting them out that don’t live here,” Mayor Henry Balensifer said during a City Commission meeting in January. “And they rent it out to pay the mortgage on it. Unfortunately, that’s driving up housing costs for everybody — and substantially — especially this last year.”

The mayor said vacation rentals have not been as big of a problem for Warrenton as surrounding cities, but it is important for the city to think ahead before it becomes a concern.

Nicole Bales is a reporter for The Astorian, covering police, courts and county government. Contact her at 971-704-1724 or nbales@dailyastorian.com.