State Rep. David Gomberg (D-Otis) and Lincoln City Mayor Dick Anderson testified Tuesday before a Senate committee in opposition to a measure that would eliminate local government control of vacation rental dwellings (VRDS).
Sen. Fred Girod (R-Stayton) of District 9 introduced Senate Bill 621 during a public hearing before the Committee on Business and General Government.
“I must take a minute to defend myself. I do not own five city blocks of rentals in Depoe Bay,” the bill’s sponsor said. “I do not own a construction company that will make millions on this bill. Colleagues you’ll love this, the construction company is called Capitol Construction. You have to love the Internet, that’s all I gotta say.
“My wife and I own a house in Depoe Bay and we are never going to rent it out. This bill is a turf battle that has been going on for a long time. It involves two heavy hitters. It pits property owners against cities.
“On the pro side we have a shortage of short-short-term vacation rentals. I’ve spent hours listening to people evicted that ended up on the streets because of lack of housing. Think of students who need an extra week or month of housing to finish school.
“Renters who move need a short term rental until they can move into another rental. Colleagues this is a question of supply, and cities often use ordinances to block this vacation rental potential.”
Gomberg said that one in five children in Lincoln County are categorized as homeless. He also said 40 percent of our seniors are described as ‘housing insecure.’
“The rental rate is less than one half of one percent,” Gomberg said. “What that translates into is that people who want to work at the coast can’t find a place to live at the coast.”
“In Lincoln City about half of the housing is currently either vacation rentals or second homes,” Gomberg said. “They are not available for long-term family or workforce housing.”
“Lincoln City has the largest number of rented rooms of any city on the coast between San Francisco and Seattle,” Anderson said. “The lodging industry is a major player in how we serve our guests. Vacation rental dwellings are a component but not a driving force within this industry.
“Senate Bill 621 flies in the face of cities home rule. Zoning is how cities paint the landscape canvas to match our layout and vision of our communities.
“Cities are not all the same nor do they have the same vision. Cities certainly do not need the assistance of 90 state legislators to tell us what is best for our communities.”
Anderson explained to the legislature the complexities of VRD ordinances in Lincoln City and highlighted the fact that VRD owners must follow the rules and be licensed.
“Vacation rental dwellings are and can be a business operating in a residential zone, thus the need for controls that we as a community have imposed,” Anderson said. “Lincoln City has found a balance.”
Anderson borrowed a line from a GEICO commercial by telling the State Legislature: “Stay in your lane bro.” Anderson asked the Senate to reject SB 621 and focus on more pressing problems like the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) obligation and its effect on cities.