A three-bedroom home on South Prom. Another three-bedroom home on the 1600 block of South Edgewood. A two-bedroom house on the 1800 block of South Edgewood. A two-bedroom home on South Columbia.
Four homeowners came to Seaside’s Planning Commission meeting last Tuesday seeking conditional use approval for a vacation rental dwelling. All four received that approval.
“One of my concerns is, I see articles that say Seaside is the place to invest in vacation rentals,” Jeff Flory, the city’s transient rental dwelling enforcement officer said. “This is a huge business model for people — so I think we’re going to see a flood of people from out of the area continuing to do it.”
Since Jan. 1, the city has received 73 land use applications. Of these, 58% are for transient rentals, including 32 vacation rental dwellings, seven transient rental condos and three bed and breakfasts. The city has 411 transient rental dwellings, active or pending. There is a backlog of 96 inspections needed to be completed.
The widespread turnover of formerly residential homes and its impacts on the availability of affordable housing concerned planning commissioner Seth Morrisey.
“I do have a quick comment on the vacation rental approval because I think all of us are concerned with all the the proliferation of vacation rentals,” Morrisey said. “I’ve had conversations with the City Council and I don’t think anyone really knows whose responsibility it is to actually adjust and kind of refine the rules of vacation rentals.”
Morrisey proposed a workshop to determine a balance between long-term housing and vacation rentals. “vacation rentals have turned into basically a business model for a lot of people, especially from out of the area,” he said. “And I think that we better get ahead of this or probably half our town is going to be vacation rentals very shortly.”
In Seaside, density rules govern whether or not a neighborhood can approve more vacation dwellings. Applications are supported west of South Roosevelt Drive, west of North and South Holladay and west of Neawanna Street.
Planning review of vacation homes begins when a neighborhood surpassed 20% density. The 40% density level will not be supported by the Planning Commission, but it would still be permitted. “So at 46% it would still be allowed,” Cupples said.
Flory said he has faced an increasing number of situations where homeowners have been denied permits because neighborhood density exceeds 50%. Properties that have recently gone for sale whose density exceeded the threshold were in the areas of Eighth Avenue, 12th Avenue and Beach Drive.
“Some of the owners selling their houses in these areas were not happy the density threshold exceeded 40% or 50% as prospective buyers and buyers agents saw that as an obstacle to getting a VRD permit,” Flory said after last week’s meeting. “No application has been filed for a property that exceeds the current density threshold.
Not all vacation rental dwelling applications go in front of the Planning Commission for a public hearing and review, Flory said. The city’s zoning ordinance requires all VRD applicants whose density exceeds 20% to go to the Planning Commission. The review is conducted by the planning director if the density is 20% or less.
“As more properties get permitted as VRDs, the density of VRDs in the neighborhoods will increase, thus requiring more applications to be reviewed by the Planning Commission rather than the planning director. This increase will also cause fewer properties to meet the density thresholds set by policy thus potentially making them ineligible for a VRD permit.”
Seaside is not unique in its concerns of an over-saturation of vacation rental homes, Flory said. “A lot of cities up and down the Oregon coasts are running are starting to go into moratoriums and starting to do different things,” he said. “I know I’ve fielded calls from city administrators from lots of different places in in Oregon to see what we’re doing here and Seaside to help draft their policies and regulations.”
A work session on the topic is scheduled for Nov. 16.
“If this is something you guys are passionate about we need to spearhead this and figure out if we need to tighten the policy or change it,” Morrisey said.