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As trial period nears end date, council decides to continue allowing options like Airbnbs throughout city.

COURTESY PHOTO  - The Lake Oswego City Council decides to continue allowing short-term rentals throughout the city on a permanent basis.Lake Oswego will continue to allow short-term rentals like Airbnbs and other hosting options throughout the city.

The Lake Oswego City Council voted to remove the sunset clause — a two-year trial period — for its short-term rental policy during the June 1 council meeting. Roughly two years ago, the council passed an ordinance allowing short-term rentals in residential zones, adopting the sunset date to allow for reevaluation after learning more about the impacts these types of rentals could have on neighborhoods.

"The purpose of the sunset clause was to provide an opportunity for the council to check in and to see if this ordinance is working, if it's effective and if it's addressing the impacts that were of concern at that time," said Planning and Building Services Director Scot Siegel.

The council's decision was a slight deviation from the Lake Oswego Planning Commission recommendation, which was to extend the sunset date by one year.

At the June 1 meeting, Siegel said there were four options the council could choose from: extend the sunset date by one year, remove the sunset clause, extend the sunset date for a different period of time or allow the sunset to occur, making short-term rentals illegal moving forward — an option the planning commission did not recommend.

Siegel said the planning commission recommended extending the sunset date by one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which impacted travel and the hospitality industry.

"The planning commission felt that because we were going through COVID, there were certain restrictions on businesses, including the hospitality industry, (and) that perhaps the last two years was not a sufficient period for testing the ordinance," he said.

Prior to the June 1 meeting, the planning commission held a non-land-use meeting and received testimony and evidence regarding short-term rental use.

"During the Planning Commission hearing, short-term rental hosts testified that short-term rental visitor-nights at Airbnb properties in Lake Oswego did not decline significantly in 2020," the June 1 staff report read. "Although the number of guests was down over 30% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to Airbnb … the average trip length (number of days per visitor) had increased, resulting in a decline of only 17% in visitor days."

Data showed most visitors were visiting family, with others staying in the city for special occasions or on business trips as opposed to destination trips.

Siegel said over the last two years, the city did not receive a significant number of complaints relating to short-term rentals.

Lake Oswego resident Mark Rockwell testified on behalf of short-term rentals.

"I would simply say to really echo what director Siegel has said: The last two years has been a glowing success," said Rockwell, adding that hosting guests was a great experience and a credit to the types of hosts and people who decide to visit Lake Oswego.

Councilor Aaron Rapf encouraged the council to remove the sunset clause altogether, noting how short-term rentals are good for businesses, provide extra income for households and allow more people to become acquainted with the city.

"I think it's good to provide certainty for folks who are running these operations as well," Mayor Joe Buck added.

Removing or extending the sunset date has a positive financial impact on the city, allowing the municipality to collect transient lodge tax for short-term rentals.

For more information, visit the city's website.

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