GEARHART — Changes may be ahead in Gearhart’s short-term rental rules.
Gearhart City Administrator Chad Sweet has proposed maintaining the city’s comprehensive plan, which limits tourism.
However, he recommended lifting a proposed limit of 35 vacation rental permits.
“Allow homes renting short-term 90 days to apply for a permit, set the permitted limit at the number that apply,” Sweet wrote. “The community can adjust the number of available permits in the future, or let the permits phase out to zero over time. As homes are sold or conveyed, the permit will be lost.”
Sweet asked the Gearhart Planning Commission to drop a proposed seven-day rental block requirement, which, he said “will be very difficult to administer.”
He also sought an exemption to 24-hour managed properties, such as some condominium units. “Only units that are not managed by 24-hour staff should be included for safety and impact,” Sweet wrote.
Sweet also recommended the rules only apply to the city of Gearhart, not the neighborhoods of the Palisade and Highlands.
The Planning Commission — which is meeting Thursday — is weighing a short-term rental registry, with limits on the number of guests per bedroom, off-street parking spaces and septic system capacity.
Proposed rules specify that the use of a home for a vacation rental shall not exceed one rental within seven consecutive calendar days, mandate a 24-hour owner representative and notice to neighbors .
Since last month’s hearing, letters to the commissioners range from “leaving regulations as they have been” to “stick to your recommendations.”
“We will comply with reasonable new regulations, but request that property owners be allowed to continue sharing their homes with law-abiding vacations,” Walter and Jennifer Baumann wrote.
Bob and Clare Carson of Gearhart said the proposed standards that prevent some owners from renting are a “taking,” denying a property right without fair compensation.
David and Susan Kenney, however, said they are concerned about the prospect of homes being owned primarily as rental properties.
The Kenneys asked for limits on short-term rentals and limits on the maximum number of rental nights, among other conditions.
Correspondence from renters was entered into the record.
Marla Kennefick of Beaverton asked the commission “not to restrict rentals.”
“Please don’t take away our tradition of long weekends in Gearhart in our favorite vacation home,” Kennefick wrote.
Former Planning Commission Chairman Matt Brown and former commissioner Bill Berg asked for short-term rental properties to be grandfathered, but to limit additional short-term rentals.
“No new STRs will be permitted, and the illegal practice will be reduced to an increasingly manageable number through gradual attrition,” Brown and Berg wrote.
George Osgood offered a plea for unity.
“Half of Oregon’s small towns are dying,” Osgood wrote. “We all are lucky that we as homeowners can enjoy and build Gearhart together and not make this about the Hatfields and McCoys, which was the feeling I had left with from the (April 14) meeting.”