I was encouraged to a degree at the 2/14 meeting of the STR Advisory Committee by some of the developments, and discouraged by others. Here are some highlights.
Sarah Absher announced that she had met with the County Commissioners and was happy to report that the consensus of the three Commissioners was that they are NOT trying to reduce the number of STRs.
Dan Kearns, the attorney hired by the county, was asked not to attend this particular meeting. Sarah stressed that Kearns was charged with advising the county on how to implement changes without risking liability for the county. She said the county is aware that lawsuits are currently being prepared.
Sarah re-emphasized that Ordinance 84 was initially established with the stated intent that it is NOT a land-use ordinance, and the county believes that the proposed changes are also not to be considered land-use regulation. Why is this important to us? Generally speaking when a regulatory body makes rules that alter what you are allowed to do with your property under the applicable zoning ordinance, that falls under land use regulation and is easily appealable to the State (LUBA appeal.) It is much quicker and much less expensive to appeal via LUBA than it is to sue through the civil courts. So, I was trying to get the county to acknowledge that even though they are SAYING it is not a land-use issue, it actually is. If your client carefully selected a house to buy because the zoning allows STR, then the county comes along and takes away that right, it seems to me that is land use regulation.
Sarah stated it is critical that the Advisory Committee goes through the proposed ordinance and arrives at consensus for how it should be revised and that we must plan to complete this work by Mid-May so that the pause can be lifted by the end of June. She asked that the committee be prepared to meet longer and more often in order to accomplish this goal.
We made some headway at this meeting by reviewing the sections pertaining to the purpose statement, garbage, signage, events prohibition, the complaint process, and permit transferability. None of the proposed sections were acceptable to the committee as written, so Sarah will rework the proposal and bring it back to us at the next meeting. My instinct is the proposed prohibition of events (birthday parties, anniversaries, weddings, company retreats, etc.) will be brought back to a reasonable point. Unfortunately, it seems clear that the issue of transferability of the permit is going to be a battle we will have to fight.
The next meeting will be Tuesday March 14 from 9:30 am to 2pm, to be held at the same place: Port of Tillamook Bay Conference Room.
IMPORTANT: During the public comment section, the same people from NeahKahNie and Neskowin always seem to have signed up to comment. They show in in force to these meetings and they make their voices heard loud and clear that they want fewer STRs in Neskowin and NeahKahNie. This time, their main leader asked for a show of hands in the audience of people who are there because they would like to see the proposed ordinance accepted as it was written. At least 90% of the audience raised their hands.
This is a problem. The message to the Commissioners is that there is more support for reducing the number of STRs than there is for protecting private property rights.
We need more support from STR owners, business people who rely on tourism, rental managers, Realtors, and others who agree that we need to find mutually agreeable ways to work together in this county so that people who purchased homes and land with the understanding they could do short term rental will be allowed to obtain and keep permits.
Maybe we should consider conducting a demonstration on the courthouse steps with signs and buttons and flyers and loudspeakers to put out the message that we as REALTORS are trying to protect the rights of our clients to sell and buy property in Tillamook County without having to worry about the county stripping away their property rights.
As always, you can find recordings of past STR Advisory meetings, and the public comments and the handouts from the meetings at this web page: