Lack of COVID-19 testing and other variables is causing Lincoln County to continue its restrictions of short-term rentals.
On March 23, Lincoln County officials drafted its original countywide resolution that included the order to close short-term rentals such as hotels, B&B’s, vacation rentals, RV parks and private campgrounds to rentals less than 30 days. That order was set to expire April 30 and County officials drafted an extension of the order set to last until May 8, to coincide with Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s state of emergency declaration, which will expire May 8.
On April 27, the Lincoln County Commissioners, Lincoln County Mayors and their City Council members, all convened via a teleconference to discuss a possible extension of the order. After discussions, County officials decided that a larger extension, past the May 8 date, was needed.
“I am in favor of an extension… I am not comfortable supporting a May 8 date,” Commissioner Claire Hall said. “I personally would rather see at least May 18 and preferably May 31. I get that both workers and owners are taking a huge financial hit… but it is clear to me that social distancing is working.”
Commissioner Doug Hunt also acknowledged the burden the Coronavirus has put on local businesses, but said he has to weigh the public health crisis against an economic recession. Hunt also spoke on the lack of testing in Lincoln County, stating that as of April 26, 478 individuals in Lincoln County have been tested for COVID-19.
“That’s only one percent of our residents,” Hunt said. “If you’re in a room of 100 people and you’ve been tested, there’s another 99 that we don’t know their status.”
Hunt was in favor of a May 31 extension.
Commissioner Kaety Jacobson was in favor of a May 15 extension, but said she could possibly get behind a May 31 date.
“It’s a little harder for me to go there, but I could,” Jacobson said.
Ultimately, the Commissioners decided to make a motion to extend their emergency declaration, and their order regarding short-term rentals to May 31. Representatives from Lincoln County’s various cities then had their chance to vote on the extension, as well as giving a brief statement.
“I’m all for the extension, and I see the need for that,” Lincoln City Mayor Dick Anderson said. “The short term rentals are an attraction for valley folks, as is the sunshine. We see a huge influx in visitors. I’m in support of a May 31 extension.”
Anderson, as well as the City Council, voted unanimously to approved the May 31 extension.
Other County officials echoed Commissioner hunts concerns for lack of testing in Lincoln County, including Depoe Bay Mayor Robert Gambino.
“We really have not tested very many people,” Gambino said. “So far the only you can be tested is by being a Samaritan member or with a physicians’ order. I would support a May 31 extension.”
Health Department Director Rebecca Austen later stated in the meeting that being a Samaritan Health member does not qualify an individual for testing.
Newport Mayor Dean Sawyer also chimed in.
“I don’t think we have enough data,” he said. “We can always adjust along with the governors’ order if we need to.”
The Lincoln County emergency order as well the short-term rental order was extended to May 31.