Coos Bay seeks to limit vacation rentals | Local news

With warnings of a housing shortage for full-time residents in coastal Oregon, the city of Coos Bay is considering ways to limit the number of Air BNB and vacation rentals it will allow. in residential areas of the city.

So far, this hasn’t been such a big deal for the South Coast’s largest city, but Coos Bay City Council is considering taking action before it too gets caught up in the genre. severe housing shortage that other communities face.

City development staff and the planning commission are developing new rules that would include limiting the number of short-term rentals by requiring them to be at least 300 meters apart or the length of three football fields, including restricting parking especially for boats and toy carriers and increasing inspection schedules and possibly fees.

At a sometimes controversial joint meeting of Coos Bay City Council and the Urban Renewal Agency on Tuesday, officials looked at the issues of short-term rentals versus year-round stable housing for those who are residents.

“I’ve heard stories from Lincoln City where one-third of the market is second homes, another third is vacation rentals, leaving only one-third of homes for the people who live there. People stay in motorhomes for two years trying to find accommodation, ”said Councilor Drew Farmer, while expressing concern that if Coos Bay is not careful there will also be too little accommodation for them. permanent residents.

According to community development administrator Carolyn Johnson, there are about 15 vacation homes licensed within city limits. But she also admitted that there could be more people renting their homes short-term without a permit. She doubted it was a large number, however. “I would be shocked if it was over 40.”

“I’m not saying stop them. I don’t want them to be in residential accommodation. Short-term stays can be mixed-use or zoned commercial, ”reiterated Councilor Farmer of concern about affordable housing for the workforce. “We need 600 more homes over the next 10 years. “

Councilor Stephanie Kilmer cautioned against adding too many regulations that could affect tourism or infringe on owners’ rights.

“I don’t think we can tell people what they can do with their property,” Councilor Farmer said in a slightly heated exchange, “Zoning tells people what they can do with their property and sometimes zoning changes. “

Councilor Carmen Matthews also agreed that controls need to be in place.

“I worry about the people who have housing. I don’t want to be too restrictive, but I think we need more controls, ”she said.

Councilor Lucinda DiNovo agreed, “I think we should pick a number and limit it. “

Ultimately, the council and board agreed that the planning commission should continue its work of limiting the number of vacation rentals while balancing the needs of tourists and homeowners. Johnson has vowed to bring back the planning commission’s recommendations in the coming months.

Johnson also pitched some ideas for the Empire District, which faltered in the city’s ambitions for what was supposed to be a desirable neighborhood.

The stylized design plans and restrictions of the 1800s along with a plethora of other regulations, Johnson said, potentially discourage developers.

“The idea of ​​the 1800s has nine pages of regulations. There hasn’t been a lot of development. Few have returned with plans that match. It’s not what people want to do, ”Johnson said.

The Planning Commission and staff suggested reducing the restrictions to two pages, almost two-thirds of the rules, arguing the city should keep certain policies in place.

“I don’t think you want to give up your power,” Johnson said. “If they’re building something really ugly, there’s nothing you can do about it. “

Councilors discussed the need for zoning to encourage development.

“We need guidelines, but not that restrictive. The Empire Quarter is becoming the new frontier for Coos Bay, ”Councilor DiNovo said.

The board and council agreed that bylaws needed to be streamlined for the Empire District and allowed the process already started to continue. Councilor DiNovo also insisted on a master plan for the region, perhaps not this year but eventually.

“We don’t have a common vision. We need a master plan for this, ”she said.

Council agreed to bring it back for discussion at a later date.

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