County explores regulating vacation rentals
With the boom in online rental sites like Vacasa and Airbnb, rental alternatives to hotels on Mount Hood have grown in popularity, especially in Clackamas County's recreation-destination country.
While the county doesn't have policy related to short-term rental properties, Planning Director Jennifer Hughes and her team are working to correct this.
"The county zoning code is silent on how dwellings can be used for short-term rentals," Hughes told the Boring Community Planning Organization (CPO) on May 7. "There's a gray area there, so we want to, from a staff perspective, find clarification on that."
The meeting was the first of a handful of public presentations the department has planned. The next will be during the Rhododendron CPO meeting at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 18, in the Trees Room at the Mt. Hood Oregon Resort, 68010 E. Fairway Ave., Welches.
Planner Martha Fritzie posed that there are "a lot of opportunities" from short-term rentals, including additional income for residents and additional lodging for tourists. However, residents in unincorporated communities of Clackamas County have numerous concerns. Fritzie said several residents have already noted how the county is already in need of affordable housing stock, and others worry about the "nuisance" renters might cause in their residential areas.
Fritzie noted the latter concern about noise and unwanted visitors is part of why the county seeks public input on policies to regulate short-term rentals. "There's always going to be bad actors," she said. "The hope is that in having some regulations there will be better ways to address these issues. By regulating short-term rentals it can create a path for enforcement."
Local Vacasa owner Ned Dobner added that he believed it's an "unfounded perception that short-term rentals cause nuisance and trash problems," and that these issues arise more because of residents than visitors.
At the meeting, Boring resident Samantha McDonald said safety is her main concern about having short-term rentals in the area. If lodging was to be regulated, she noted, regulations should require owners to provide evacuation and emergency situation signage and documents.
Several in attendance took a hands-off approach, including CPO President Mike Fitz, who told the planners, "Make sure they're paying their taxes and the houses are safe and leave them alone."
CPO board member Tom Mac added that "we don't have enforcement for the rules we do have."
Planners assured those in attendance that public input would be taken into consideration.
"Making a big decision like this is not a flip decision," Fritzie said. "This is a big, involved, long process."
"This is really important," noted Betsy LaBarge, president of Mt. Hood Vacation Rentals in Welches. "I appreciate that the county is taking this effort."
For information on the policy building project, visit www.clackamas.us/planning/str.
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