Todd Van Horne

Todd Van Horne seeks a moratorium on vacation rental dwelling permits.

Seaside property owners Karen and Todd Van Horne are asking for a reversal of a planning department decision to grant a vacation home permit in their Ninth Avenue neighborhood, and for a moratorium on future permits in Seaside.

The Van Hornes appeared before the Planning Commission Tuesday, Sept. 3, after homeowner Jerry Johnson received approval for a conditional-use request for a four-bedroom vacation rental dwelling permit at 403 Ninth Ave. in Seaside.

“This is excessive and beyond city guidelines,” the Van Hornes wrote in their Aug. 14 appeal, delivered to the commission on Tuesday night. “The increased traffic, parking, disturbance issues we have witnessed in the past five years has grown exponentially with the overgrowth of VRDs.”

The Van Hornes say there are already too many vacation rental dwellings in their neighborhood and want to see the decision reversed.

In presenting his appeal of the conditional use permit on Ninth Avenue, Todd Van Horne asked Seaside to place limits of the percentage of vacation rentals, similar to rules in place in Lincoln City, Cannon Beach, or Gearhart.

Existing vacation rental dwellings exceed the city’s 20% maximum distribution requirement within the surrounding 100-foot area, they said in their appeal.

While owner Jerry Johnson of the Ninth Avenue property was out of the country, property manager Erin Barker argued the reason they were granted their conditional use permit was that vacation rental density area was 15%, not above 20%, which would have required Planning Commission review.

“I’d like to see the statistics that says we got the math wrong,” Barker said.

Acknowledging problems associated with some properties, commissioners fell short of endorsing a moratorium on VRD permits, as requested by the Van Hornes.

Planning Commission Chairman Chris Hoth said the commission had discussed a possible moratorium at previous meetings, buton the advice of the city attorney Dan Van Thiel determined that “doing what we’d like to do isn’t necessarily what we can do.”

“We’re not entirely free to say, ‘It’s a big problem, let’s cut the whole damn thing off until we fix it,’” Hoth said. “We might like to do that ... but will it stick?”

A cap on total numbers for homes currently and historically sitting empty is “counterproductive to fostering economic growth,” property manager Mark Tolan said during the meeting’s public comment period. “The current system works, but lacks teeth when property managers are not local and invested in the well-being of the neighborhood above all else.”

In continuing this item until the commission’s October meeting, planning commissioners sought to have participation from applicants, and will hear the matter on Oct. 1.

“We can all see that there are problems and we’re attempting to deal with it,” Hoth told the Van Hornes. “What you’re saying is helpful to us in learning to deal with things. At the same time, it’s a complex issue.”

A Planning Commission work session on vacation rental dwellings is scheduled for Sept. 17, and a joint City Council and Planning Commission workshop planned for Monday, Sept. 30.

“It’s front of mind — it’s what we’re talking about right now,” Planning Commissioner David Posalski added.

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