GEARHART — Opponents of limits on vacation rentals in Gearhart say they are not getting equal time in the debate and the city has already decided to enact rules, overriding their input.
Gearhart property owners Katherine Schroeder and Nancy Marshall, in a discussion at Schroeder’s home Wednesday, said vacation homeowners could effectively regulate themselves.
They oppose the city’s plans to seek changes in the zoning code to regulate short-term lodging of 30 days or less.
Schroeder’s North Marion Avenue home was rented by the previous owners, and rented continuously for about 65 years.
Marshall, a North Marion Avenue resident, arrived in Gearhart in 1989.
“We’ve had the beach house since 1989,” Marshall said. “We needed to rent it, and continue to rent it. We’re not opposed to the tax, but to have the city tell me how I can use my property really irritates me.”
Schroeder and Marshall vigorously oppose restrictions.
“Those who want to regulate think it’s for the good of the community but those of us who don’t want regulations, think it’s to survive,” Schroeder said. “The regulations are not simply regulations, they are restrictions, also, which I think is a big distinction.”
“People think we’re making money hand over fist,” Marshall said. “We’re not.”
Renting their homes out on a short-term basis allows property owners to use their own properties for part of the year, Schroeder said.
Gearhart is different than other cities, Schroeder and Marshall both said.
Schroeder, Marshall and several other Gearhart families began meeting in 2014 when the topic first came on the horizon.
They say short-term rental owners should be self-regulating, with the first step education.
“What I’d like to see them do is educate those who have short-term rentals, let everyone know what they expect as good neighbors,” Marshall said.
Schroeder said the number, and the threat, of short-term rentals is vastly overrated and the small number of vacation property owners — by the city’s estimate, about 75 to 80 — does not need to be regulated.
“People think there are lots of us,” Schroeder said.
The city has tried to prove higher numbers of short-term rentals in Gearhart, but in the last two years, the number of such homes has remained about the same, she said.
“Sixty five percent of homes in Gearhart are secondary homes, they’re not primary residences. Of those. It’s a small handful who rent.
Bad apples among homeowners would be dealt with by peer pressure, Schroeder said. “We know who they are.”
Rather than new rules, the city should do more to enforce existing regulations, and condos or apartments should have a manager who enforces rules on their properties.
“Gearhart has noise rules,” Schroeder said. “They can enforce the noise rules, the garbage rules, the parking rules. They’re already in the books, they’re in the city code.
“In 28 years, not once have I ever had a letter from the city to say my party misbehaved, a party, or trash,” Marshall said.
Many of the complaints submitted to the city are undocumented or vague, Schroeder added, particularly complaints about garbage strewn about or noise from parties.
“How did they know it was short-term renters?” Schroeder asked. “They could very well be the owner using their own home.”