Gearhart’s vote on Measure 4-188 has begun. With the campaign starting the final push, it’s obvious what this thing is all about. It’s neither profound nor complicated: It boils down to money. The sponsors of Measure 4-188 want to reserve their right to make as much money on their property as possible. They want no hindrances, certainly no regulations. They believe it’s their right to turn their property into a motel. Not only to use it as a nightly rental, but to remove any obstacles that might reduce profits if they decide to sell, regardless of the impact on their neighbors.
The catch is that this commercial activity, nightly rentals, was never legal. This would-be motel is in an R-1 zone — a residential zone. Commercial use is not permitted. We own a home in Gearhart and spend much of our time here. Gearhart has been a sleepy beach community where a handful of vacation rentals coexisted peacefully with full-time and seasonal residents. Nobody gave it any thought — until several years ago. That’s when the short-term nightly rentals became supercharged by the internet. That’s when this cancer came to visit Gearhart.
The City was kind and conciliatory with those who had conducted illegal rentals. Though this usage was never a right, it was grandfathered into Ordinance 901. Everyone in town was given several months to apply for permits as short-term nightly rentals. This process entailed septic inspections, fire and safety inspections, and occupancy limits. This seemed like reasonable and pretty common sense stuff. But clearly this was not enough.
Those in favor of Measure 4-188, which is heavily financed by short-term nightly rental interests, are trying to convince us that growth of short-term rentals will bring “economic benefits” to Gearhart. Since the existing STR Ordinance 901 has been put in place, the number of full-time residents has increased. This is what creates a more sustainable, robust year round economy.
Even if their arguments weren’t so self-serving, there are few in our community who would trade our town’s beauty and quiet neighborly atmosphere for all the money in the world. Our town is a gem. Our town is not for sale.
Vote No on Measure 4-188.
Lisa Cerveny and David Russell