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County Looks At Proposed STR Rules

The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners received a proposed set of policy changes to govern licensing and enforcement of short-term rentals (STRs) operating outside the city limits in the county from county council Wayne Belmont. The discussion did not include any updates to proposed fees. Based on conversations with the commissioners and extensive public input there were proposed changes to four areas: occupancy limits; septic systems; caps on the numbers of STRs; and enforcement of the program.

Almost all complaints about STRs focus on noise, parking and trash, so it was proposed that lowering the occupancy will lessen these impacts.The proposed new occupancy limit would be two people per sleeping area, with parties and large gatherings that would bring more than two guests per sleeping area into the home being prohibited. It is recommended that a maximum occupancy also be administered during the day to two additional people and events such as weddings, graduations etc that would exceed the maximum limit of people be prohibited.

Approximately 75% of all STRs licensed by the county are on septic systems. The proposed language would require an initial system evaluation report, yearly maintenance reports and a full evaluation every four years. Several alternatives capping the number of STR licenses were put on the table, including a countywide cap on total numbers, caps in individuals areas with high concentrations of STRs, or a combination of the two. For enforcement it was proposed to incorporate online complaint features and bring potential violations before a hearings officer to decide violation allegations.

Code enforcement deputies would have greater latitude to issue citations for potential violations, and the hearings officer would have the power to issue a “strike” for a citation. The original 2016 licensing program set a “three strikes” policy for repeat violators, but there was no clear language about what constitutes a strike.

The full report can be found online on the counties website at www.co.lincoln.or.us The next opportunity for public comment on these proposed recommendations will be at a virtual public workshop hosted by county staff at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 7. This will be an opportunity for the public to ask questions and provide feedback on the proposed language.

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