Voters will decide on November 2 whether to ban short-term vacation rental (STR) units in unincorporated Lincoln County or allow the County Commission to continue their work to develop reasonable restrictions on these properties that will protect renters and homeowners alike.
If approved, Measure 21-203 will impose harsh new restrictions on family vacation rental units, and phase out more than 500 existing units located outside the tourist zone. As these vacation rentals disappear, so will the local jobs they provide, the tourists they attract, and the dollars that would have been generated for the local economy.
Local business owner Tracey Taylor fears what will happen to his business if Measure 21-203 passes and family vacation rentals are shut down. Taylor runs Point Break Fitness, a gym located in Lincoln City that serves area residents and visitors alike. He estimates that 25 to 40 percent of his business comes from tourists and visitors who stay at family vacation rentals, hotels, and motels.
Taylor says these same tourists dine at local restaurants, shop at local stores, search for nick-nacks and treasures at local antique shops, and participate in outdoor adventures. Wherever tourists spend money, another job is created that helps support a Lincoln County family.
Without a large manufacturing base or other major employers, Lincoln County depends upon small local businesses, including family vacation rentals, as a major source of jobs and income. The taxes and fees generated by these family-own businesses vacation support libraries, public works projects and government services.
Taylor describes a local economy as an endless cycle of monetary exchange among customers, employees, business owners, vendors and service providers, a process that benefits all who participate. Tourism is especially important because it brings outside dollars into the local economy, with minimal cost to the community.
Visitors spend their money and then they go home. And if they enjoyed their visit and the place they stayed, they will be back year after year, generation after generation, all the while sharing their experiences and memories with others.
A vacation rental provides what corporate accommodations cannot: a cozy, homestyle place to stay that is as unique as the owner who invested a lifetime of savings to create it. The furniture, linens, dishes, appliances, rugs and décor were very likely sourced from other local businesses and craftpersons. The garden, landscaping and patio environments were created from local plants and materials by local artisans and builders.
What was enjoyed this week by one family will be enjoyed the following week by another. And the economic cycle, as Taylor describes it, continues. Take away family vacation rentals and you take away the reason many families come to visit Lincoln County.
Maybe that’s the result some proponents of Measure 21-203 seek.
By eliminating family vacation rentals, Taylor explained, the homes that had been adapted for visitors and tourists would revert to private homes that some current owners could no longer afford. As their retirement income dries up, these owners would be forced to sell to wealthy outsiders who would be able to keep the best vacation spots for themselves.
Unlike a private gated community reserved for the wealthy, Lincoln County welcomes all to enjoy its miles of spectacular coastline, the surrounding mountains and rivers, and the abundance of natural beauty and wildlife.
Measure 21-203 proponents claim that family vacation rentals cause the shortage of affordable housing. Taylor doesn’t buy it. Such arguments, he said, “may look good on paper but won't fix the problem.” Measure 21-203 proponents, he said, “shoot themselves in the foot” with ideas that will “pull more money out of town.”
An expensive 15-unit single-family home development will not solve the affordability crisis, Taylor said. On top of the high cost of land, labor and materials, “there is too much red tape and costs to build new housing.”
Taylor added that “prices are so high it is getting ridiculous. A single mother cannot afford a $250,000 home.”
Taylor emphasized that “construction of apartments will do more for affordable housing than Measure 21-203 will ever do.” The challenge, he said, is to “get these projects through the red tape.”
Fortunately, progress is being made without Measure 21-203. “Apartments are being built as we speak,” he said, behind Safeway, near Mojo’s and by the corner of Highway 101 and 36th Street.
It is simply not fair that Measure 21-203 can take away someone’s livelihood and property rights in a misguided effort that will not even solve the problem it claims to address.
Vacation rentals are essential to the culture and economic vitality of Lincoln County. These short-term rentals are owned and operated by responsible individuals who carefully maintain their properties, and proudly offer their homes for others to enjoy.
As business owner Tracey Taylor knows, “to succeed in Lincoln County, you have to take care of the locals and provide services for tourists.” Measure 21-203 doesn’t even take care of the locals.
More information here: http://www.savelincolncountyjobs.com/