Planning commission near decision on short term rentals
After more than a year of work comprising six work sessions and countless hours of public testimony, the Lake Oswego Planning Commission will vote at its upcoming meeting on May 13 to finalize its recommendation to the City Council on a set regulations that would allow short-term rentals (STRs) to operate legally within Lake Oswego.
The planning commission heard its final round of public testimony at an April 22 meeting where more than m a dozen people showed up to express their opinions on the issue.
The City Council voted back in 2017 to uphold the ban on STRs, but at a goal-setting retreat in 2018, the council reversed course and subsequently asked the commission and planning staff to look at drafting policy that would allow STRs with some regulation and enforcement.
Testimony last week ranged from full support to vehement opposition to the idea of STRs, with a few folks landing somewhere in between, but the majority of that testimony was in favor of lifting the ban and providing an ordinance to regulate STRs with a few minor tweaks to some of the proposed regulations.
The key points made during public testimony called out proposed regulations such as the 120-day limit on the number of days per year an STR can be rented, the six-person limit on the maximum number of guests, the number of parking spots available, the number of rooms and square footage of a house that could be used as an STR, as well as whether or not to require the owner or primary resident of the home to be on the premises during the rental.
"There are arguments on both sides of these issues," Planning Director Scot Siegel said. "On one hand, we need these limitations so (STRs) are in character with the neighborhood, but ensuring an STR doesn't alter residential character is already a standard in the code that is required of all home businesses. The planning commission will decide at their next meeting if they want to maintain those controls."
One of those in attendance at the April 22 meeting was Amy Thurman, a board member of the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce who expressed the chamber's full support of allowing STRs with as little regulation as possible.
"We believe that STRs are beneficial to the community, and we support this," Thurman told the commission. "We would like to see as many of the impediments removed as possible including the limit to 120 guest days, the restriction on square footage used, the requirement to have the owner on premises and (the) proposal to limit number of licenses over three years."
On the other hand, opponents of STRs say they detract from neighborhood character, and it would be next to impossible to enforce the regulations the commission is considering in their recommendation to the council.
Monday, May 13, the planning commission will finalize its recommendation to the Council and findings. It's a process that's taken more than a year to get to, with much of the heavy lifting being done by City staff members like Senior Planner Leslie Hamilton who put together the STR survey that went out last fall, and met with all the stakeholders — including neighborhood association leaders and residents who operate STRs — to collect data and feedback in order to inform the Planning Commissions upcoming decision.
"I think the staff collaborating with neighborhood representatives and STR proponents put together a good survey of over 850 people," Siegel said. "I think the process has been open, transparent and very thorough in the level of detail and data the City has produced."
One of the other issues at play, according to Siegel, is whether allowing STRs to operate without the owner or primary resident on site will negatively affect the City's housing supply.
The planning commission received testimony from the Fair Housing Council of Oregon — a nonprofit organization working to eliminate housing discrimination — which brought up concerns over how STRs can deplete the number of single-family and multi-family dwellings in a City's stock of homes.
Commissioners felt this was a valid point and will have to consider whether the requirement that an owner or primary resident must remain on site during a rental could mitigate the number of homes used explicitly as STRs and in turn promote the social model of home occupation rather than a full fledged business.
Once the planning commission makes its recommendation, the council will then hold a public hearing on the ordinance at its June 4 meeting, with potential approval of that ordinance as early as July.
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