Lake Oswego Planning Commission to develop STR rules this summer
Lake Oswego's Planning Commission began the process last week of developing rules for allowing short-term rentals in the city's residential neighborhoods.
STRs are home rentals that last fewer than 30 days. They are currently illegal in Lake Oswego, and the City Council initially voted last year to keep the ban and step up enforcement. But at a goal-setting retreat earlier this year, some councilors urged their colleagues to reconsider — largely in response to the growing popularity of services such as Airbnb — and the issue was put back on the agenda for 2018.
In April, the council directed the Planning Commission to develop a new set of rules for STRs, and last week's work session was held to establish a timetable for the process.
At the meeting, City staff recommended breaking the topic into two work sessions during the summer. According to senior planner Leslie Hamilton, the first session would be held on July 23 and focus on whether owners must live on the rental sites, whether whole-home rentals should be allowed and whether there should be restrictions on how many days per year a unit can be rented.
An Aug. 13 session would focus on the issues of parking, privacy, inspections and enforcement, Hamilton said. The City would put out a public review draft in September and schedule a public hearing in October. A finalized set of recommendations would then be sent back to the City Council for consideration.
Hamilton also noted that the council had requested that the new rules have a built-in "sunset clause," so that they could serve as a test run and give the council a chance to evaluate how things turn out after the first year or two.
Keeping the rules in effect beyond the sunset date would require an affirmative vote from the council, and in case that vote doesn't happen, Hamilton said the rules should also include changes to the original city code to eliminate some ambiguities in the current ban.
"We'd want to have something to fall back on if that ordinance is allowed to sunset," she said.
Several residents offered testimony at last week's meeting. All of them offered support for Airbnb and thanked City officials for reconsidering the ban.
Commissioner Ed Brockman said he supported the idea of breaking the topic into two study sessions, but cautioned that some of the subtopics might be difficult to separate. He urged the group to be flexible about the discussion at each session, particularly since some members of the public may want to only testify at one of the two hearings.
"They may not want to come to every session, but they'll want to say their piece when they come," he said.
Vice-chair Bill Ward urged City staff to reach out to Lake Oswego's various neighborhood association chairs as part of the process. He also asked for details about the kinds of complaints the City has received about Airbnb units during the past year of stepped-up enforcement.
Based on commissioner feedback, Hamilton said the July work session should also address the issue of compliance with the current ban, as well as the potential impacts of Airbnb on affordable housing.