The Lincoln City City Council made it clear on Monday night that there is a fine line between commercial and residential properties in the City. That line is NW Jetty Avenue, and one the City Council will not be crossing.
At the Oct. 14 City Council meeting, the the City reviewed an application submitted by the Cho family, owners of the Surftides Hotel in Lincoln City. The owners also own a pair of duplexes located at NW 31st and NW Jetty Avenue, adjacent from the hotel.
With a City ordinance in place, restricting the operation of vacation rental dwellings (VRD) to one per owner, the Cho family’s application would’ve allowed them to use all four units in the twin duplexes as VRD’s.
“What we’re asking is essentially just an expansion of the Surftides units to be able to use these duplexes across the street as additional hotel units,” said Adam Springer, the applicant’s attorney. “It would operate the same as the hotel, you’d check in at the hotel, you’re allowed to use all the Surftides amenities and you’d also have the 24 hour security that the hotel has.”
Lincoln City Planning Commission reviewed this application prior to the City Council meeting, which drew several concerns such as taking away affordable or workforce housing. Springer refuted this concern by addressing the growing need for hotel, motel and short-term rental units in Lincoln City. Springer cited a City plan that states that there will be a 1,600 short-term unit need in the coming years.
“This will also offer economic growth for Lincoln City,” Springer said. “This is a 55 employee business here that is trying to expand and offer some different options that makes their resources more competitive.”
Springer stated that each unit was worth about $335,000 and argued that they should not be considered affordable housing.
Mayor Dick Anderson pointed out a few issues he had with allowing these units to operate as VRD’s. The first was the supposed 1,600 unit need for future short-term rentals.
“I find that interesting because you have to have infrastructure, water, sewer, streets to handle that… there may be demand, but having that kind of demand would help elevate grants as well if you don’t have the supply,” Anderson said. “I take that reasoning with a grain of salt.”
Anderson also countered Springer’s affordable housing comment, stating that any housing stock at any price range or rent range is needed.
“What this has done has, in essence, used up developable land,” Anderson said.
Anderson pointed out that the City has used NW Jetty as somewhat of a demarcation line of commercial and residential properties and addressed concerns of crossing that line, which could create a slippery slope effect.
“I could hear tomorrow your neighbors saying, ‘I like that, that’s a good way to get around the cap,’” Anderson said. “My hesitancy is because we’ve done a good job holding that line and it does hold continuity on the East side of Jetty.”
But not all of the City Councilors were against the idea of allowing Surftides to use these units as VRD’s.
“It seems like a nice use of that property and certainly seems like it conforms with the neighborhood, so I have no problem with it,” Councilor Rick Mark said. “I’d like to see the business make use of the building as it was intended.”
Ultimately, the City Council voted five to one to turn down the application, denying the Cho family from using the two duplexes as VRD units.