Gearhart divided over vacation rental ordinance

Voters will decide whether to keep the ordinance

A vacation rental in Gearhart, August 29, 2016. (KOIN)

GEARHART, Ore. (KOIN) —  The community of Gearhart is getting set to vote on whether to keep an ordinance placing new rules on short term rentals in the coastal town.

The ordinance, which passed last year, creates rules like no street parking, having a 24-hour property owner or representative within 30 minutes and limits to the number of vacation homes in the city.

“Everyone was given the opportunity to chose to rent their homes if they wanted too,” said City Councilor Dan Jesse, who was in favor of the ordinance. “Or at least to acquire the permit, and pay the fee. Whether or not they chose to rent their home or not was up to them.”

While there was no cap, homeowners only had a 60-day period to apply. If they were approved and sold their home, their permit would expire. The only way to keep the permit is if someone was given a home through inheritance.

Now the city is lined with campaign signs on both sides, some pushing to save beach rentals, others hoping to keep the town residential.

“Do we want this community to stay predominately a residential community or do we want this to be more of a tourist destination community?” Jesse said.

Some argue that the city rules are too strict and that homeowners should be able to decide whether or not they want to rent out their home or a room in their house.

Gift shop owner Joy Sigler said her business is being boycotted because she petitioned for the measure to be on the ballot.

“What the city council did is so restrictive that it will cause dire economic harm to our community,” Sigler said. “If we need to be able to rent one room or 5 rooms, we need to be able to do that. We need that flexibility.”

Ultimately, voters will decide what the future holds for Gearhart in the special election coming up on November 7.

“I actually think it is a good thing that it’s being voted on by the community,” Jesse said. “It does give the community the opportunity to really decide for themselves instead of the 5 of us elected officials.”