If Joe Foss and his friends really care and want to support Seaside, I’d love to see them move into the houses they own here. I deeply resent their complaints about how vacation rental dwelling owners should be appreciated for renting our houses to tourists when we have plenty of hotels and not enough housing available to people who work here. If you want a voice, become a resident and a member of the community. If an extra $30 a month to run your vacation rental is too much, maybe you should offer that house to someone who can actually use it — to live in.
That $200 million worth of Seaside property owned by investors should be owned by residents, and those houses should be occupied and controlled by locals. Lodging tax dollars — paid by tourists — only increase tourism and don’t support anything else like infrastructure or social services. Anyone who lives here can tell you that our community has been hollowed out by VRDs. A 2019 study shows that “58% of new homes built in the county since 2010 are used as short-term rentals.” Despite individuals like Mr. Foss, who follow the rules and keep their properties beautiful, VRD owners are taking advantage of our tourism economy, using our homes to make money for themselves, and depriving residents of access to housing. Most of those property owners, like Mr. Foss, are not locals. These people are not supporting anything. They are takers.
Thanks to community input, the city council has finally done something. A higher fee and a VRD cop is, in my opinion, not nearly enough. But it’s a start. With our tourism economy now deflated by public health concerns, what would really help Seaside would be if a bunch of telecommuters took up residence in their Seaside vacation homes and supported local businesses.
To the Mayor and City Council members of Seaside:
As a full-time resident of Seaside I am wholly against the reopening of Seaside to visitor and tourists in May. The people who live here need to be the first priority during this pandemic. Twenty-six new cases of COVID-19 have just occurred in Clatsop County. Why is there any consideration of opening happening now?
We have no access to testing of the 40,000 people who live in Clatsop County.
Providence Seaside and Columbia Memorial hospitals have a total of 50 hospital beds (that is not counting ICU beds and is not counting ventilators).
Right now the Gov. Kate Brown has put in place a stay-at-home order through July 6.
Choosing to open Seaside in May and allowing visitors and tourists in (especially those who will stay at hotels and vacation rentals) with absolutely no contact tracing in place (in addition to no available testing) is purposefully and willfully endangering the lives of those who live here.
If I were to get COVID-19, I would die. My 71-year-old mother is my primary caregiver (as I have a progressive, degenerative neuromuscular disease) and she would also die if she were to get COVID-19. We are doing our part to save lives by staying home (other than my mother getting groceries). Why should our lives be put on the line, or anyone else’s lives who live in Seaside or in Clatsop County, be put at risk?
The short-term thinking is absolutely incomprehensible to me. What are you going to do if you open Seaside in May and thousands of people start coming here and thousands of people get sick? Yes, there is serious economic devastation happening right now. Opening in May says loud and clear to the people who live here that you value business over human life. And it’s not just the lives of those who live here, because the lives of those coming here and staying in hotels and vacation rentals will also be put at risk. Who will decide who gets access to the extremely limited number of hospital beds and ventilators when that happens? Will you be the ones to decide? Will visitors and tourists, whose money you value more than the lives of Seaside residents take precedence?
It is unconscionable to open Seaside right now. And if you believe the economic pain being felt right now will not be far worse if you follow through with this insidious plan, you are mistaken. There is no way to enforce social distancing of visitors and tourists — it’s not even being fully enforced with the people who are here now. There is no way for any restaurant in the city of Seaside to open and feed visitors and tourists while following social distancing protocol. There is no way to keep people safe and healthy.
People need to stay home to save lives until there is testing for everyone, contact tracing is in place, and social distancing protocols can be fully in place and enforced for the protection of all.
Christina R. Buck
Commissioner Sarah Nebeker and I are close friends and I will always admire her service to this community and value our friendship.
However, we have fundamental disagreements on the solutions for affordable housing and their link to short term rentals. A recent Clatsop County housing study drew a firm conclusion that short-term rentals eat up available housing for our working families. Commissioner Nebeker and her associates sponsored a ballot measure in 2017 to repeal Gearhart’s commonsense vacation rental regulations and support unlimited rentals in Gearhart with no legal fire or life safety guidelines.
John Toyooka always puts community and working folks first and partisanship last. Like me he understands affordable housing and limiting short term rentals is a top priority in Clatsop County. John also pledges to regularly attend Gearhart City Council meetings, listen and be open-minded to the needs of Gearhart residents, and represent working families by supporting small business, living wages, and family health care and education.
John wants to help Gearhart build a new fire station to protect our community and be prepared for all emergencies from tsunamis to pandemics. He understands the Clatsop County housing study concludes that short-term rentals eat up available housing inventory in our coastal communities and he supports the Gearhart comprehensive plan to keep Gearhart residential. John Toyooka has the right views on protecting what makes our city special, that’s why he is the right choice for Gearhart.
Mayor Matt Brown