airbnb

Markers on a map at Gearhart City Hall indicate the location of vacation rental properties.

When lawmakers are elected and go to Salem, they take with them the hopes and dreams of their home communities.

They learn how Oregon is governed and how best they can assist in making it an even better place.

One skill should be the ability to determine when a consistent statewide policy is appropriate and when local communities should be free to make their own decisions.

One recent suggested piece of legislation perfectly illustrates the old adage: One size does not fit all.

The recent proposal from state Sen. Fred Girod, R-Stayton, is Senate Bill 621, which would allow any home to become a vacation rental.

It would prohibit local governments from properly managing them.

At the risk of being accused of hyperbole, it is probably one of the worst ideas to come out of our state capital in many years.

Our North Coast communities have sought to help shape the wonderful — and different — characteristics that make this part of the world such a pleasurable place to live.

Part of that has seen our leaders setting reasonable rules for short-term rentals that seek to allow this form of commerce in certain cases, while preserving the character of residential neighborhoods. When you buy a house in a residential area, you expect it to remain that way, and not be choked by traffic and noise from commercial businesses springing up on either side.

Astoria has worked thoughtfully on its homestay regulations, making a concerted effort to involve residents in shaping them. Gearhart and Manzanita have restricted the number of rentals those cities allow. Seaside only allows vacation rentals in some zones as a conditional use. Cannon Beach has long debated this issue and worked toward its own best solution.

Girod and those supporting his approach argue that the vacation rental industry creates jobs, brings in tax revenue and allows people to afford their homes. His bill would continue to allow cities and counties to require people operating vacation rentals to register and pay lodging taxes.

Vacation rentals can be a lucrative business; large nationwide interests know our beach communities offer some of the most desirable vacation spots. The simple core question is whether these types of monied interests elsewhere should determine how we live.

Seaside City Councilor Tom Horning is among those who have protested the idea because it takes away local communities’ flexibility. We applaud his stance.

And Astoria Mayor Bruce Jones is especially eloquent on this issue.

“Astoria has taken steps to create reasonable restrictions on short-term rentals through a public process, and prohibiting our ability to take such steps will result in a more rapid increase in the cost of permanent housing for residents, and a significant degradation of the unique, small-town qualities which make Astoria a desirable location for visitors and residents alike,” Jones said.

The League of Oregon Cities is against the idea because it removes local control. Cameron La Follette, executive director of the Oregon Coast Alliance, says it would be a disaster.

We agree. This is an idea that needs to simply disappear. Salem does not know what is best for the North Coast.

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