By Dave Benneth, Neskowin Resident
My wife tells me that I’m not very observant. Maybe she’s right because after living in Neskowin for years, I just realized there might be motels in our neighborhood disguised as short-term rentals. (I thought there was something different about them.)
They are not illegal. They are known as “STR” and have county permits as they should. But maybe full-time ones used primarily or only as STR are, say, “misclassified”?
This may not seem like a big deal except that our neighborhood (like many others in Tillamook County) is zoned as a “single family low density residential development”. This zoning allows certain businesses such as home occupations, homestays, golf courses and swimming pools, aquaculture facilities, cottage industries, and bed and breakfast businesses (if the owner is present). But not motels, hotels or resorts.
The Tillamook County Land Use Ordinance defines a motel as: “A building or group of buildings used for transient residential purposes that contains guest rooms or living units, and that is designed , intended or used primarily for the accommodation of passing automobile travellers.” (Hmm…sounds like some rentals in my neighborhood; “primarily used…” might be the key.)
Perhaps the STR classification is applied too broadly. For example, a family that occasionally rents out the beach house they inherited from grandma to help offset property taxes and insurance should, in my opinion, be considered an STR because it is primarily used as a personal residence. But what about the investment syndicate that could buy five beachfront residences in the “low-density, single-family” area of Pacific City, get permits to operate them as STRs, then advertise them as “complexes” offering daily housekeeping. Should this business be allowed to operate as an STR group or is it used primarily (hope you understand the theme I am developing here) as a motel operation? I think it is, in essence, a motel and should be operated in the proper commercial area. Other motel and resort owners must operate in commercial areas. Isn’t that unfair competition? What do you think?
Whatever you think, share your thoughts at the monthly County STR Advisory Committee meetings that set aside time for public comment. The next meeting is July 12 at 9:30 a.m. and you can participate in person or remotely. For more details, go to the Tillamook Community Development website and click on the Short Term Rental Advisory Committee button on the left side of the screen.
(Psst… the topic of discussion will be how STRs affect community “liveability”. That might be a good topic.)